Steve Fidel
The Laie Inn, in the mid-foreground adjacent to the Polynesian Cultural Center, closed Nov. 3, 2009, to make way for updated lodging. The inn was operated by a contractor for Hawaii Reserves, Inc., Hawaii's property and development arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The replacement in is expected to be situated on the same property.

LAIE, Hawaii — The 45-year-old Laie Inn, adjacent to BYU-Hawaii and the Polynesian Cultural Center, closed for business Nov. 1 and will be demolished to make room for a new development.

Current plans call for a total redevelopment of the antiquated inn, according to Hawaii Reserves, Inc., the management arm of the LDS Church, which owns the inn.

A well-known story in Laie involves President Gordon B. Hinckley's stay at the inn in the early 1990s when he was a member of the church's First Presidency. "He actually caught a rat while he stayed there," said Steve Hoag, Hawaii Reserve's director of administration. "I think members of the First Presidency have not stayed at the Laie Inn in the last 10 or 15 years because of the condition of the inn."

Locally, reaction to news the Laie Inn was closing was mostly along the lines of "it's a surprise it wasn't torn down sooner," Hoag said. "There are a few people losing their jobs," he said, "But employees have known this was coming for years now."

Hawaii Reserves Web site says plans to build a new hotel will "provide an affordable, convenient place to stay for those planning a multi-day visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center, and it will also fill a standing community need — serving visiting families of Brigham Young University-Hawaii students and patrons of the nearby LDS Temple."

Groundbreaking for the new, modestly sized hotel is expected by the end of 2010.

Hawaii Reserves describes it as "Designed to showcase a 'Polynesian sense of place' with plans calling for grass-hut-type roofing for the reception building, and other Pacific Island architectural elements."

e-mail: sfidel@desnews.com