Walter Dudley Child, Sr. came to Hawaiʻi in the early 1920s … and fell in love with the islands. He began his career with the Hawaiʻi Sugar Planters Association. But his career followed the same changes that the state’s economy would eventually take, moving from agriculture to tourism. Following a decade of service at HSPA, Walter entered the hotel industry, purchasing the Blaisdell Hotel in downtown Honolulu along with his business partner, Dr. Donald Burlingame. Looking for expansion in the young Hawaiʻi travel industry, he then formed a hui to purchase the Naniloa Hotel in Hilo.
In the early 1950s, Walter became a director of InterIsland Resorts, Limited which grew out of the Inter-Island Steam Navigation Company. Walter was able to see the future of Hawaiʻi, emerging from an agriculture base to become a center for leisure travel. The fortunes of the company rose along with the growth in the visitor industry, and InterIsland Resorts began to grow into a chain, starting with the Naniloa, the Kona Inn, and the Kauaʻi Inn. In those early days of Hawaiʻi tourism, InterIsland Resorts became a pioneer in selling accommodations on the neighbor islands.
Investing in the company, Walter became president with full control of the operations. In fact, it became a family business, with Walter’s son, Walter Dudley Child, Jr. (Dudley) taking over the operations of the company when Walter stepped back to become chairman of the board.