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January 6, 2016. BANYAN DRIVE, HILO, HAWAII. In preparation for returning its land back to the State, Uncle Billy’s Hilo Bay Hotel will cease hotel operations on Banyan Drive in February 2016.


Hilo, HI, January 6, 2016 – After 51 years providing kama’aina and visitors alike a true Hawaiian home away from home, Uncle Billy’s Hilo Bay Hotel will cease hotel operations along Banyan Drive effective February 1, 2016.

“This is where it all started for my family. I just wanted to have a business where my kids could work and build their families without having to leave home.” Uncle Billy (William J Kimi, Jr.)

Uncle Billy Kimi and his Uncle Billy’s Hilo Bay Hotel and General Store have been fixtures on Hilo’s waterfront resort area for over 51 years. They have each, in their own way, contributed to the culture and community that represents the best part of what it means to be Hawaiian, or “Local”. Along with providing a future for his immediate family, Uncle Billy’s Hilo Bay Hotel has provided work opportunities and career starts for thousands of folks in Hilo and the East Side. Over the years, Uncle Billy’s Hilo Bay Hotel and General Store have provided comfort to visitors and locals alike.

“Uncle Billy’s has always been about the people that make up our community. Sharing our lives with those from other places near and far is what made Uncle Billy’s Hilo Bay Hotel a favorite for Kama’aina and visitors alike.” Said Sandra Yokomizo, President and Uncle Billy’s daughter. “Whatever the State chooses to do with this property, nobody will be able to replace the people who have made this Hotel so special over the years.”

Uncle Billy’s site leases have run their course and are due to convert over to a month to month revocable permit upon their March 14, 2016 expiration. Over the last several years, as the land lease termination date approached, the Kimi family has agonized over what it could do to keep Uncle Billy’s legacy property operational into the future.

“We have spent more than simply money in attorney’s fees, appraisal evaluations, business plans and, not to mention, keeping an aging property in service beyond its functional capacity; we have exhausted our emotional reserves.” Said Aaron Whiting, Manager and Uncle Billy’s Grandson. “It seemed unimaginable that our little iconic Hawaiian hotel that so reflects the heart and soul of the Hilo community, would one day not exist.”

Hilo Bay Hotel started at a time when Hilo was just a small sugar cane town. There wasn’t much opportunity for the young, so many left the island. Uncle Billy felt he needed to do something to keep his family together so he decided to build a hotel. He acquired the vacant land on Banyan Drive that had been devastated by the 1960 tsunami and began to create and construct a 150 room hotel which 70 percent of the construction was done by his own two hands.

Hotel operations will continue fully staffed through January 31, 2016. January looks to be a busy month for the Hotel and it looks forward to a last minute rush of folks who want to stay “one more night” before it closes. Uncle Billy’s General Store will continue to operate as usual through February; at this time, there is no exact date for its closure. Uncle Billy’s Kona Bay Hotel is unaffected by these events and will continue operating normally throughout the period and beyond.

Ultimately, there will be 27 employees affected by the Hotel’s closure and another 10 employees related to the Uncle Billy’s General Store closure. Uncle Billy’s Hilo Bay Hotel’s management is actively seeking employers who might have an interest in hiring these workers. Employers are invited to contact Aaron Whiting via email at for any information.

The Hotel suspended taking reservations last fall, so there are very few commitments beyond Feb 1st. Hilo Seaside Hotel will be able to accommodate most of those reservations and management will be working with other Hotel properties in Hilo to pick up the remaining few. There will be no changes accepted to existing reservations for accommodations beyond Feb 1st. The Merrie Monarch Festival produces reservations for properties up to a year in advance of the Festival; if the Hotel cannot find alternate accommodations, those reservations will be cancelled and any deposits refunded. The search for alternate accommodations will begin immediately with guests being notified of the change as soon as possible thereafter.

The Hotel will be liquidating ALL of its property on site at 87 Banyan Drive, Hilo Hawaii. Everything from refrigerators and air conditioners to irons, beds, bed linen, furniture, restaurant equipment and more will be offered at liquidation prices. The sale begins February 5th and continues through the month of February or until all items are gone. Pre-sale interest in large items and/or large quantities should be directed to 961-6987 Monday thru Friday from 9am to 4pm

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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Aaron Whiting at (808) 961-6987 or email at

Contact Aaron Whiting
Telephone (808) 961-6987

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