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Hawaii Business Magazine’s 20 for the Next 20: People to Watch 2012

20 emerging leaders in local businesses, nonprofits, government, education and law

(page 7 of 21)

Photo: Courtesy of Greg Dickhens

GREG DICKHENS age 41

President, Kyo-ya Co.

It’s no surprise Greg Dickhens wound up in the hotel industry. He grew up in one.

His father, Don, was a hotel manager in Los Angeles, and the family lived on the property. When dad transferred to the Sheraton Waikiki in the late ’70s, Dickhens lived there, too.

“I didn’t live in a real house until I was a teenager,” he says, laughing.

Today, he is the president of Kyo-ya Co., which owns seven hotels, including the Sheraton Waikiki, where his dad was once hotel manager. He oversees the financial and operational functions of the company and is responsible for the repositioning and redevelopment of its hotels – four in Waikiki, and one each on Maui and in San Francisco and Orlando.

Last year, Kyo-ya announced plans to build the first new oceanfront tower along Waikiki Beach in more than 30 years, as part of the company’s $1 billion upgrade of its hotels. It will be built where the Moana Surfrider’s eight-story tower now stands.

“Seeing the dramatic improvement in the quality of our real estate portfolio and seeing the impact this has had on our employees and guests is the most rewarding part of my job,” Dickhens says.

An honor student at Punahou School, Dickhens left Hawaii and attended Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, earning a degree with an emphasis in real estate finance and property development in 1991. After spending a decade working in hotels around the world, he completed his MBA at UCLA and rose further in the industry ranks. He returned to the Islands in 2005 to work for Kyo-ya.

“He’s got a lot of experience in the areas of development and finance, and he’s spent a lot of time in the hotel industry,” says Ernest Nishizaki, executive VP and COO of Kyo-ya, who worked with Dickhens’ dad, too. “He’s certainly been very instrumental with the renovations. He’s so intelligent. I’ve learned a lot from him.”

Dickhens no longer lives at the Sheraton Waikiki – he resides near Diamond Head with his wife and two daughters – but walking around the hotel still brings back memories. And not just for him.

“There are employees who were working when I was 6 years old. I see them now and whenever I talk to them, they have a funny smirk on their faces because they remember me being this little kid running around.”

— CET

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