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Posted 7/14/2005 8:42 AM Updated 7/14/2005 8:53 AM

Famed Kauai resort to re-open as condo, hotel mix

LIHUE, Hawaii (AP) — Plans for a famed Kauai resort that has been shuttered since Hurricane Iniki are moving forward, with construction expected to start next year, according to the principal sales broker for the project.

Still beautiful: Elvis Presley crooned his wedding vows in Blue Hawaii,which remains a popular spot for Elvis fans to tie the knot.

The plans call for the Coco Palms to re-open in mid-2008 with 200 condominium units and 104 hotel rooms, said Donna Apisa, president and principal broker of Oceanfront Realty International.

The 396-room resort — made famous as the backdrop for the 1961 Elvis Presley movie Blue Hawaii— sits on 45 acres along and around the Wailua River that was once a gathering place for ancient Hawaiians. It was the ancestral home of Kauai's royalty in the 13th century and was also the home of Kauai's last reigning queen, Queen Deborah Kapule, a wife of King Kaumualii, in the mid-1800s.

The Coco Palms, which opened in 1953, was developed as the image of what visitors then thought a Polynesian resort should look like. It was renowned for its 2,000-tree coconut grove, lagoons and evening torch lighting ceremonies.

The redevelopment of the resort will involve tearing down most of the buildings, except for the lobby building, because there was too much damage from the Sept. 11, 1992, hurricane and the 13 years of vacancy, Apisa said.

"We want to keep the flavor of Coco Palms, but it will be a new rebuild," she said. "We'll try to salvage as much as we can and recreate the feel of Coco Palms."

The $200 million Coco Palms project is a joint venture between developers Richard Weiser and Walt Petrie.

Sales and marketing of the condominium portion of the resort won't begin until the project has all its approvals from the state Real Estate Commission, Apisa said. The Kauai Planning Commission approved permits for the restoration in January.

The developer is currently talking to boutique hotel operators about running the hotel portion, Apisa said.

"We want someone who will be sensitive to the historical and cultural aspects of Coco Palms," she said. "It's got so much history and culture there that we want to do it right."

The project includes three restaurants, including the beachfront Sea Shell restaurant, across Kuhio Highway from the main property, which has also been closed since Hurricane Iniki. The renovated resort will also have conference space, a spa, a general store, a shop and a beauty salon.

The developer also wants to dedicate a museum as a tribute to the late Grace Guslander, the resort's general manager during its heyday. Many of the artifacts from that time are being held by the Kauai Historical Society. Elvis Presley's bungalow, fondly known as Cottage 56, will also be restored and used as a memorial to the late star.

Although the resort has been closed for nearly 13 years, weddings are still being held at the Coco Palms property.

Coco Palms is one of the last hotels devastated by Hurricane Iniki to re-open. Last year developer CTF Hawaii Hotel Partners won permits to rebuild the Poipu Beach Hotel on Kauai's south shore.

USATODAY.com - Famed Kauai resort to re-open as condo, hotel mix*



Let's start planning a TC party there NOW.

Never to early to plan. Sounds like they are going to try their best to keep the history alive at the site.

We took a Hawaii Movie Tour a few years ago when my niece got married on Kauai and they stopped at the Coco Palms and let you stand right where Elvis was in the bar scene in Blue Hawaii.

We drove by it again last December and I looked longingly at it, wishing someone would fix it up. They seem to keep talking and talking and talking about restoring it...I hope it really does happen!

If someone plans a party there...I'm going! woohoooo! To me it would be the ultimate place for a tiki party...


[ Edited by: Exoticat 2005-07-14 22:49 ]

They have been trying to fix this up for years. I have heard all kinds of stories about what they where going to do for over 10 years. Nothing has been done. When the hotel is done is when I will believe. I think the original land owners recently died so it maybe the reason for the new interest. There where a lot of lawsuits regarding the land and insurance issues after the hurricane.

Mr & Mrs NeptuneTiki just came back from Kauai and toured the old resort. They said it looked like the management just walked away from it after the storm with furniture, etc. still in the lobby.
I hope they do it up old style.

[ Edited by: Kailuageoff 2005-07-15 14:23 ]

Finally, here are the pictures from the Coco palms Hotel. We were on our way to snorkeling on the North Shore and saw the hotel. The first thing you notice ie the thousands of palms on the property. It is really eerie to see how everything is still in place. These beautiful lamp fixtures hanging from the ceiling, phones laying around, the posters hanging in the store and boutiques, it is as if it is exactly the same from when the hurricane hit. The debris, of course was cleaned out.

It brought back memories to my mother-in-law that remembers eating at the restaurant years ago.

Hopefully, the next time that we visit Kauai, it will be restored and brought back to the beautiful hotel it was and can be.

[ Edited by: Neptune Wahine 2005-10-15 07:20 ]

[ Edited by: Neptune Wahine 2005-10-15 07:24 ]


I say: Tiki Central event at the grand re-opening.

We are definitely hip to that!!!! Let's GOOOOOOO!!!!

I'm going to start saving up now, talk about paradise! I'd love a TC party there...


On 2005-07-14 22:48, Exoticat wrote:
We took a Hawaii Movie Tour a few years ago when my niece got married on Kauai and they stopped at the Coco Palms and let you stand right where Elvis was in the bar scene in Blue Hawaii.

We drove by it again last December and I looked longingly at it, wishing someone would fix it up. They seem to keep talking and talking and talking about restoring it...I hope it really does happen!

If someone plans a party there...I'm going! woohoooo! To me it would be the ultimate place for a tiki party...


[ Edited by: Exoticat 2005-07-14 22:49 ]

Savage Patty and I took that tour on our honeymoon too. It was very interesting. Standing in the same place "Blue Hawaii" was filmed(watch out for those coconuts). The highlight for me though was seeing where "She gods of Shark reef" was filmed. TC party in Kauai? We're there.


My dad and mom are over in Kauai right now and I asked them to swing by Coco Palms to see how the rennovation is going.

Here's the response, "Well, you know, not a lot gets done on schedule over here. No one is in a hurry except the mainlanders and that doesn't make much sense since they're on an island. It looks to me like not a lot is being done right now. In fact a lot people are working on roads that were washed out from that bad flood they had here recently."

So. There you have it from our TC reporter of the day: Kahiki Karl.
(He was raised in Columbus and a proud friend of the Kahiki.)

Well, looks like we might have to postpone the TC party for 2008, but I believe that one day, that hotel will be rebuilt in splendor and we should definitely plan on meeting up there. Get a few good Hawai'ian musicians to come and play, do it up island style.

[ Edited by: pablus 2006-05-17 12:49 ]


Please give me an excuse to go to Hawaii and hang out with you Pablus. Sounds wonderful.

My wife Monica and I also took the Movie Tour when we were in Kauai for our honeymoon five years ago, and even then the guides were talking about the big renovation plans. We figured by the time we reached our 5th anniversary it would be ready, the perfect spot to celebrate. Flash foward five years: no dice. So we're instead returning to another honeymoon spot, the Royal Hawaiian on Waikiki, to spend our 5th anniversary in a couple of weeks. Oh well, maybe for our 10th the Coco will finally be ready....but I'm not holding my breath.


On 2006-05-18 10:32, AquaZombie wrote:
My wife Monica and I ...

You're slipping man! You didn't say Monica the Tiki Goddess?! I'm shocked! :wink:


Coco Palms restoration in Limbo???



That is sad news....it sounded like the plans would have been conducive to a good restoration. Hopefully no private investors in the condos will be out any cash. :(

On 2007-09-17 05:09, rupe33 wrote:
Coco Palms restoration in Limbo???



cocopalms has left the building

Elvis was here ... but Hawaii hotel won't be rebuilt


Looking at the articles, it appears competing interests clashed in planning this project, but I smell something else as well...

One wonders what part of the process we will never learn.

On 2007-09-17 05:09, rupe33 wrote:
Coco Palms restoration in Limbo???



owners scrap plans for a revival :(

Sunday, October 14, 2007

'Blue Hawaii' hotel in trouble again
Developer puts Coco Palms, closed since 1992, up for sale.

The Orange County Register

The long-delayed resurrection of the beloved Coco Palms resort on the Hawaiian island of Kauai has taken another turn for the worse.

The Associated Press reported this past weekend that the latest developer to try to make a go of the property, closed since Hurricane Iniki in 1992, has decided to pull the plug on the project and put the remnants of the hotel up for sale.

A big chunk of the 1961 Elvis Presley movie "Blue Hawaii" was filmed at the Coco Palms. The hotel, on the east coast of the Garden Island, was an early pioneer in tourism of the outer islands, beyond Oahu's famous Waikiki. Kauai's last reigning queen, Queen Deborah Kapule, lived on the land in the middle of the 19th century.

Donna Apisa, the listing agent for the sale of 200 condominiums at the project, told The Associated Press that the developer is going to auction that land later this year. The prospects for the property have risen and fallen with the market for housing and hotels on Kauai.

After Hurricane Iniki, government officials have required changes to the site to prevent future flooding. The location, near the bustling Coconut Coast and across a busy highway from the beach, made the locale less desirable than those of hotels that were built later.

Apisa said the county Planning Commission's rejection of Coco Palms Ventures' plan to build a full-scale fitness spa at the property was one reason for the sale.

This isn't the first time a plan to reopen the historic property has fallen through. The property had been purchased by the Lincoln Consulting Group of Newport Beach. James R. Reed, the group's director, planned to create a property that would recall the Polynesian charm of the original.

Instead, the hotel went back to being a darkened wreck on the highway between the airport and Wailua, and is the last major hotel on Kauai that has not reopened or been razed after the hurricane.

The Coco Palms is best-known as the filming site of "Blue Hawaii." The film caught the hotel in its heyday, when it was a 47-acre tropical playground of lagoons and more than 2,000 swaying palms.

"The Coco Palms had an atmosphere of a Polynesian paradise that other hotels aspired to, but could never achieve," writes David Cisan of Kapaa, Kauai, on his hotel fan site, http://www.coco-palms.com.

The arrival of new guests in those days was heralded by a conch-blowing doorman. Rooms featured huge, seashell-shaped washbasins. Across the road, the hotel's beachfront Seashell Restaurant was a popular hangout for sun-blissed tourists. At sunset, the palm grove was the scene of a tiki-torch lighting ceremony that was quickly copied by hotels all over the islands.

Much of the romance and hoopla was created by Grace Buscher Guslander, the hotel's longtime manager. The lady transplanted from Collegeville, Pa., became a tourism legend, creating an ambience that wasn't so much Hawaiian as people's fantasies of what Hawaii should be.

Guslander won't see the end of her beloved hotel. She died this past spring, weeks after the Kauai Planning Commission approved the plan to bulldoze the Coco Palms' carcass. Yet she endured the long agony of the property in the years after the hurricane

The location of the resort, one of the earliest on the island, near busy Lihue and across a noisy highway from a mediocre beach, made it less attractive to the sun-and-fun crowd as resorts sprouted in the '70s and '80s. Guslander sold the hotel in 1985. By the early '90s, the hotel and its reputation had deteriorated.

The death blow came on Sept. 11, 1992, when Hurricane Iniki slammed into the island, devastating the Coco Palms and other hotels. One by one the others reopened, but the Coco Palms, mired in insurance tangles and other squabbles, remained shuttered, its famed palm orchard sprouting "No Trespassing!" signs.

On the face of it, the Coco Palms' demise is part of a sad trend of recent years. The tourists' Hawaii of the 1950s and early '60s tried to create a Polynesian fantasyland: low-slung, laid-back, with copious gardens. These picture postcards of the Hawaiian dream are disappearing, replaced by generic condo developments.

What remains are the lagoons and the famous palm orchard. The current owners had moved far enough along on their plans to launch a glossy advertising campaign for the residential units it was selling and to plan on reopening a smaller hotel portion by the end of 2008.

Oh how I wish I had massive mula!!! I hope somebody buys it that will restore it to its original splendor and atmosphere. It is so sad to see it sit in such ruin, but maybe it is for a reason. I liked the idea of condos and a spa with a hotel option...it sounded great. :(

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Travel Talk: "Blue Hawaii" memories
Reminiscing about Kauai's "Coco Palms" hotel

Hi Gary. I was totally shocked to discover that the hotel
in which I had vacationed more than 25+ years ago, "The Coco Palms,"
will be torn down.

I just cannot fathom that which was once a gem could be destroyed.
I truly thank you so much for the article which brought back so many lovely memories of my stay there.
That hotel was a true paradise.

I remember first seeing it in a postcard and told the travel agent,
"This is where I want to stay."
Regardless of all the others the agent offered, I wanted to stay there and did.
I also wanted to thank you for the history behind the hotel.
I had no idea that Elvis had filmed the movie, 'Blue Hawaii' there.
If I would have known all these tidbits now I would have relished even more my stay.
I don't know if you are old enough or if you ever saw it in person
to experience it when it was so lovely.
I searched and found a picture from back then.
This is how I want to remember it, but I will save your article.
I don't know why, I guess to remind me that all things eventually will pass.
I will have to contact my friend who also stayed there.
I regret having to give her the bad news, because we always brought up
that hotel when speaking of Hawaii.
I again thank you for bringing back all the lovely memories
of Kauai and, "The Coco Palms."
I loved your article. Take care.
Sincerely – G.V., O.C.

Thanks for the nice note. Yes, I was able to see the Coco Palms once, in the early 1990s,
while it was still open, though it was in decline.
I thought about staying there but on that trip decided instead to check out another hotel up in Hanalei.
I thought "next time" I'll stay at the Coco Palms.
Then came Hurricane Iniki.
I've been waiting and now it increasingly looks like there may be no next time.

The fact that there have been three plans to revitalize the property shows that there is incredible drawing power to the place.
Hopefully another plan will come up before the Kauai local just throws in the towel and just bulldozes the place and puts up a strip mall or something else.
The Coco Palms as it is today is such an eyesore, so damaged by the hurricane and then so many years of neglect, now that it would be almost impossible to save anything recognizable.
Most everything would have to be recreated, though the grounds with the ponds, palms and meandering rivers are still there.
I plan on keeping on top of the story, so check back ...
Thanks for reading.


January 28th, 2008
State senator proposes public purchase of shuttered Kauai resort

LIHUE, Hawaii (AP)
State Senator Gary Hooser is proposing having the state and some still undetermined partners buy Coco Palms Resort on Kauai's east side and convert it into a historic park.

Hooser, who represents Kauai and Niihau, introduced a bill requesting
the appropriation of $10 million for the purchase.

The resort has been close since Hurricane Iniki inflicted heavy damage in 1992.

Coco Palms Ventures bought the resort in March 2006,
planning a 220 million dollar development
to include 200 condos and 48 bungalows.

But the developer decided to put it up for sale in September
before the plans could get under way

Coco Palms was once inhabited by Kauai's Hawaiian royalty.
In the mid-1800s, it was home to the island's last reigning queen, Deborah Kapule.


Kauai finds itself at a bittersweet crossroads
By Laura Bly, USA TODAY

KOLOA, Kauai
This winter's candlelight vigils and banner-waving protesters are gone,
their legal challenges exhausted.
Soon, bulldozers could roll past Koloa's wooden sidewalks,
clucking chickens and stop sign plastered with a "Die Developers Die"
bumper sticker, ready to transform a ragtag grove of monkeypod trees
into a shopping center.
But here in Hawaii's oldest sugar plantation town,
little more than a coconut's throw from the burgeoning tourist resort of Poipu,
the stymied effort to preserve what local shopkeeper Lee Jacobson Rowen calls
"the soul of Koloa" is a symbol of a much bigger fight for Kauai's identity —
and future.

The paper continues: "For those who live here, the rewards are obvious.
The negatives are also evident: traffic, overrun areas that were
once secret or sacred, expansions of the tourism infrastructure.
And though that infrastructure benefits residents in many ways,
it also fosters the 'us and them' mentality.
Resentment builds (and) visitors become the target."

Targets or no, visitors are thronging to the island Elvis Presley put on the vacation map with his 1961 movie Blue Hawaii, one of more than 50 films that have used Kauai's lush, staggeringly gorgeous scenery as a stand-in for paradise.

A record 1.27 million tourists arrived in 2007, aided by a boost in non-stop flights from the mainland and almost-daily calls by cruise ships. Despite a statewide economic slowdown and slump in real estate sales, the outlook for Kauai — where at least a third of the island economy is directly related to tourism — is "more ebullient than any other part of the state," noted First Hawaiian Bank's Leroy Laney.


If any property represents Kauai's struggle to find
a balance between preservation and growth,
it's the Coco Palms.

Opened on the island's east coast in 1953 amid coconut palms
planted by Hawaiian royalty, the hotel catapulted to fame
as the setting for Blue Hawaii but was never rebuilt after Iniki.
Despite a string of revival efforts — the most recent would have included
200 luxury condos and a fitness spa — it remains a crumbling eyesore
along the main highway, its blown-out roof shingles gaping like missing teeth.

"This place had the aloha spirit from Day One,"
says sixth-generation Kauaian Larry Rivera, 77.
Rivera started as a busboy and wound up as headliner, hobnobbing with the likes of Elvis and Ricardo Montalban, whose Fantasy Island series included scenes filmed on Kauai. He now croons Kauai, the Last Paradise during weekly gigs at the nearby Hilton, but still officiates about two dozen Blue Hawaii weddings a year from the same lagoon-side spot where Elvis said his celluloid vows.

A new Coco Palms plan, proposed in the Hawaii legislature late last month,
would use public and private funding to transform the onetime home of the island's last reigning queen into a historic park and cultural center — including the wedding chapel that helped bring Elvis, and Kauai, so much fame.

For his part, Rivera wants to see his iconic haunt returned to its resort glory days.
But he's mindful, too, of the lyrics to a song he recorded in 1999:
"This is one island, many peoples, all Kauaian. …
Hawaii belongs to everyone, to take care of and share."

Coco Palms being considered for park site

State Sen. Gary Hooser this week proposed a plan to convert
an Eastside eye sore into a public park.
The Kaua‘i Democrat introduced a bill in the Senate requesting an appropriation of $10 million in matching funds to buy Coco Palms Resort — still shuttered after Hurricane ‘Iniki ravaged the island in 1992.

The legislation calls for the acquisition of the resort and its conversion into a public historical park and cultural education center to preserve and benefit native Hawaiian culture.

“It’s a very long shot,” Hooser said Friday. “But I think we should try. There’s a fair number of people in the community talking about the concept.”

Kapa‘a resident Marcia Kay Sacco, who runs http://www.kauai-wedding.com, said the park would be “a wonderful asset to our community and visitors alike.”

“Personally, out of respect for the kanaka maoli and their ancestors, Coco Palms should be preserved as a cultural public park and educational center,” she said.

It would be unlikely for the state to be willing to pay the whole price and manage such a facility, Hooser said, which is why Senate Bill 3221 asks for matching funds.

“I’m hoping we’ll find a partner — maybe two or three,” the senator said. “This would put the property to use the way it deserves to be.”

The bill instructs the state Land and Natural Resources Department to enter into negotiations with parties who might match funds with the state and contribute developmental and operational expertise, a news release says. Organizations such as the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the Department of Hawaiian Homelands, Kamehameha Schools, Kaua‘i County and other federal officials and agencies will be approached.

“There’s still a long way to go to make it a reality,” Hooser said.

A state-leased coconut grove comprising half of the 35 acres where the resort sits in Wailua could be part of the park, he said.

“We are in a declining real estate market,” Hooser said. “The property would be very challenging to develop.”

Coco Palms Ventures bought the resort in March 2006, planning a $220 million development to include 200 condos and 48 bungalows.

But the developer decided to put it up for sale in September 2007, partly blaming the county Planning Commission after it rejected a plan for a full-scale fitness spa.

Some residents, such as Hooser, say the developer simply
“missed the market” and wants a way out.
Coco Palms Ventures could not be reached for comment at press time.

The property remains on the market, but real estate agents said yesterday that there are some serious buyers and a purchase and sale agreement may be in place. This could not be verified at press time.

Hooser first suggested the idea of turning the resort into a park
five years ago, but the idea never found footing.

The bill calls for an extensive community process to determine the needs and desires of local residents and a community advisory board composed of local residents, native Hawaiian cultural practitioners, former Coco Palms employees and others who are familiar with the area’s history, the news release says.

Coco Palms was once inhabited by Kaua‘i’s ali‘i, and the area around the mouth of the Wailua River was once the birthing place of chiefs and the home of royalty and numerous heiau. In the mid-1800s, it was home to the island’s last reigning queen, Deborah Kapule, the release says.

Agricultural pursuits around the beginning of the 20th century included the copra and coconut plantation of William Lindeman and numerous rice and taro farmers. Coco Palms also provided the setting for the finale wedding scene in Elvis Presley’s 1961 “Blue Hawaii.”

The resort still houses 2,000-tree coconut groves and is the largest of only three similar groves in the entire state of Hawai‘i. However, it has been deserted for the past 16 years and remains in a state of what Hooser’s bill calls “extreme disrepair,” with the exception of its wedding chapel that continues to host the popular Blue Hawaii weddings, the release states.

To provide public testimony on the bill, e-mail [email protected]
or call 808-586-6030. To read the bill in its entirety,
visit capitol.hawaii.gov


Community group forms in hopes of purchasing Coco Palms
By The Garden Island
Published: Sunday, March 29, 2009 2:11 AM HST

WAILUA — The Friends of Coco Palms, an ad-hoc steering committee, has formed in an effort to purchase the historic Coco Palms property for public benefit, a news release said this week.

The purpose behind its formation is to preserve the unique natural features and culture of the property, while making it available for public use.

Sponsored by the Kauai Public Land Trust, the group intends to work with the community to determine the best use of the property, including strategies to acquire the property and plan for its long term protection and management.

The property has remained shuttered and untouched since it was damaged by Hurricane ‘Iniki in 1992, and the property is in decay and begging for rescue, the release said. Formed in 2007, the committee seeks to pave the way for a Coco Palms future that is culturally based, historically respectful, publicly accessible and cherished by Kauaians for generations to come.

The Friends of Coco Palms is led by an executive committee comprised of Pat Griffin, Diane Zachary and Sen. Gary Hooser. Additional members include: Gary and Beryl Blaich, Andy Bushnell, Bill Chase, Robin Danner, Puna Dawson, Christobel Kealoha, Linda Pizzitola and Rayne Regush.

The release says that the committee’s intent is to fund a development plan for the Coco Palms Resort that will include a comprehensive community vision for the property and a solid estimate of the costs needed to put that plan into action. Once a vision for the property has been created, the group hopes to reach an accommodation with the current landowner for the purchase of the property and begin securing public and private funds for acquisition.

To begin this process, the committee has set an initial fundraising goal of $25,000 and, to date, it has successfully raised $5200. The money will reportedly be used for administrative support and to pay start-up costs associated with grant writing, publicity, and organization building.

In addition the committee has begun the second stage of fundraising, applying for various larger grants that will enable them to begin the community discussion, hire professionals who can make assessments of the property and develop possibilities for its self supporting, viable future.

The Friends of Coco Palms have posted a survey on their Web site, http://www.friendsofcocopalms.org and community members are strongly encouraged to visit the site, take the online survey and sign-up to become a “Friend of Coco Palms”, or make a donation towards the group’s efforts.

is there any way to get the pics that neptune wahine posted on page one BIGGER!!!! they look like great shots .


On 2009-04-01 15:29, Sophista-tiki wrote:
is there any way to get the pics that neptune wahine posted on page one BIGGER!!!!
they look like great shots .

don´t know - but primo kino posted lots of AMAZING pictures here:

OMG thanks those ARE great!!

... omg ... ...

BREAKING NEWS — $80,000 damage in hotel fire

Published: Thursday, December 3, 2009

LIHU‘E — An early morning fire today did an estimated $80,000 damage to a portion of the shuttered Coco Palms Resort in Wailua, according to a county press release.

Around 1,000 square feet of a building of the resort formerly occupied by a retail store on the second floor of the wooden structure was destroyed by the fire.

Firefighters had the initial blaze under control by 4 a.m. after the 3:05 a.m. alarm, but were called to return around 9:30 a.m. when the fire flared again, according to the county press release and property caretaker Wayne Perreira.

The fire was fully extinguished by 10:30 a.m., the press release states.

Perreira’s office suffered water damage, he said. There is no electricity in the building where the fire took place, Kaua‘i Fire Department officials said.

Perreira’s office has electricity.

An investigation is ongoing to determine the cause of the fire.

Two trucks from the Kapa‘a fire station, three from Lihu‘e and a battalion chief responded to the initial alarm, the press release states.

Photos and video will be posted to the Web site as they become available.
A complete story with photos will be in the Friday print edition ...

Insult to injury

By Coco Zickos - The Garden Island
Published: Sunday, December 6, 2009

WAILUA —Charred wood and melted glass is all that remains of about one third
of the northern portion of the former retail annex to the world-famous
Coco Palms after a Thursday morning blaze further decimated
a once-iconic hotel already in disrepair for years.

“There’s nothing left,” said Hawai‘i Movie Tours owner Bob Jasper, who was on scene with wife Jerri as soon as hotel caretaker Wayne Perreira alerted them to the situation.

Approximately 1,000 square feet of the wooden building’s second floor was destroyed early Thursday morning, amounting to some $80,000 in damage, according to a county press release.

“It’s very sad,” Jerri Jasper said after firefighters left the property for a second time around 10:30 a.m. “We’re just really relieved they stopped it as quick as they did.”

Coco Palms is important to the Jaspers’ business as Hawai‘i Movie Tours has tours of the property for visitors and provides free visits for kama‘aina twice each month.

The blaze was initially deemed under control before 4 a.m. following a response from firefighters to a 3:05 a.m. alarm. But reports of a flare-up prompted them to return around 9:30 a.m., according to the county press release.

The fire “had to be manmade because there is no power in the building,” Bob Jasper said.

Whether it was intentionally started is anyone’s guess at this point, Jerri Jasper said.

However, vandalism, theft and squatters have been common occurrences since Hurricane ‘Iniki obliterated the property in 1992. The fence — built about a decade ago — has been ineffective at thwarting trespassers, Bob Jasper said.

“Someone’s responsible for this,” he said.

Even if it was a “camper” trying to keep warm by building a fire, they should still be held accountable, Jerri Jasper said. “People should know better.”

This is the second time a fire has hit the hotel since it opened in 1953, said Larry Rivera, an entertainer who worked at Coco Palms for several decades.

“A long time ago, the library burned down,” he said Thursday.

This time, however, keepsakes were safe, Rivera said, as he carted boxes full of Coco Palms memorabilia away from the smoldering ruins.

“This place is very near and dear to my heart and this is just a shame,” Jerri Jasper said, adding that she hopes someone will come forth if they witnessed anything “suspicious.”

Although the Kaua‘i “landmark” is a mere shadow of what it once was, she said she would like to see the 400-room hotel “come back” to life some day.

To be able to “focus on the rich history,” allow it to be open to the public and honor the kama‘aina would be ideal, Bob Jasper agreed. “This place means a lot to people.”

Pat Griffin, head of the Friends of Coco Palms steering committee dedicated to the acquisition of the Coco Palms property for public benefit, said Thursday that Coco Palms has a long, important history.

“It was a place that was open to local folks as well as grand travelers, very well-known entertainment personalities as well as political and royal dignitaries,” she said. “It was a place that really in the early Kaua‘i resort era ... set the standard for many years.”

She said the fishpond was designated on the National Register of Historic Places earlier this year.

“There was glamour to it and there was theater to it, and people really loved it. There are people who are now, 40 years later, still in contact with one another because their time visiting the Coco Palms was so special,” she said. “It holds so much history from so many periods in our past.”

Earlier this year, the Kaua‘i Planning Commission granted developers a three-year extension to various permits, giving them until 2013 to clean and refurbish the dilapidated historic hotel fronting Kuhio Highway in Wailua.

Demolition of the existing structure is one of the major hurdles standing in the way of the planned project, and it is unclear how the blaze impacts that objective.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, the county press release says. Anyone with information about the blaze can call Kaua‘i Fire Department Captain David Bukoski at 241-4982 or the main number 241-4980.

SAD SAD SAD....I feel so blessed to have stayed there when it was in existance and so beautiful.

The CocoPalms must have been wonderful in its day, but now it is delapidated.
I also wonder if another fire would ruin the wonderful coconut grove.

I wish a developer would get the financing, tear it down and rebuild as it is in a great location and right across the beach, and that area needs more oceanfront bar & grills - Scotty's BBQ may be the only one.


We drove past this lovely resort on our last trip to Kaua'i. You can't help but drive past it really...
The beautiful building is still seen from the road, and it yanked at my heart-strings to see it in such shape. When I was young I remember my grandma listening to Elvis, and watching Blue Hawaii... and grandpa saying one day he would take her to the Coco Palms. He was stationed on Oahu before they got married, but hasn't been back to the islands since. (It's been 55 years now.)

In its current state he will never get to see it...

As a long term writing project I aim to tell the story of Coco Palms, so that its memory will live on. If anyone would like to contribute please email me. [email protected] (Please indicate Coco Palms in the subject.)

I am hoping to talk to not just former employees, but people who have stayed there/were married there... both before and after its abandonment. Even local businesses affected by its stagnation. Really, anyone with pictures, video, news articles or personal stories about this wonderful icon...

There is too much history and too many memories there to just let it waste away. Too many people have been touched by this place, and sadly half as many know of its recently sad story.

I wish the developer of Waikiki's International Marketplace would develop the Coco Palms instead:


That is great news! While we get to celebrate the preservation of this famous mid-century Hawaiian landmark we are, sadly, losing another as we watch the final two weeks of the International Marketplace in Waikiki before it is -- really -- torn down. Both the International Marketplace and the Coco Palms had appearances in Elvis' "Blue Hawaii" in common.


My Future Hawaii holiday - after this years Hawaii holiday and after So-Cal next year.

"Kauai’s Coco Palms – the once world-famous resort has been in disarray since it was shut down abruptly by Hurricane Iniki 21 years ago. An approval by Kauai County Council has given the establishment a chance under a county ordinance that allows developers to restore hurricane-damaged structures to their pre-Iniki condition without the requirements of adhering to current stricter health and safety standards. Coco Palms Hui LLC has been given a 24-month window by the county to refurbish the resort to its former glory, and to transform it into a premier destination and cultural icon. Tentative plans are to renovate three guest-room buildings along Kuhio Highway and repair five hotel structures, including Seashell Restaurant, Queen’s Audience Hall and Chapel Palms.

According to The Garden Island newspaper, Coco Palms Hui developers are working with Hawaiian Land Trust and state Department of Land and Natural Resources to determine whether four acres of an adjacent 20-acre site can be set aside for a cultural center or pavilion per the hui’s tentative plans. The remaining 16 acres will be designated preservation and conservation.

Coco Palms made its mark in the film industry during the final scenes of Blue Hawaii. My sisters and their friends drooled over Elvis Presley when they saw him crooning The Hawaiian Wedding Song to actress Joan Blackman. That scene remains vivid in my memory as the King and his bride-tobe stood stationary on a double-hulled canoe that was flooded with fresh island flowers, as they flowed through the lagoon to the Wedding Chapel. Perhaps future weddings at Coco Palms Resort will be popular someday following rebuilding efforts.

Seven years after Blue Hawaii, Elvis would return to Coco Palms with his real-life wife Priscilla. Ellen Garcia of Lihue met Presley during his 1968 vacation, along with Priscilla and the Presleys’ newborn Lisa Marie. Garcia tells me she looks forward to the new and improved resort, but says, “It won’t be the same without Elvis,” who sang Kuuipo to her when they met briefly in April 1968 in the grove of some 2,000 coconut trees at Coco Palms."


So cool. Can't wait to see it again in all its refurbed glory!

It will be interesting to see if the final development limits itself to the same height and refuses the urge to add condos, timeshares, etc.

I always wonder what rate of return and the turn-around time for such developments work. If I was a financier, I would want to maximize the return, which would necessarily mean more development. However, as a visitor to Kauai, I hope the original features of the lagoon, the facade and the coconut grove at the rear of the property are all maintained.


The county's Iniki ordinance that they will be operating under limits them to rebuilding to the same building 'footprint'. And reports have said it will have fewer rooms, something like 280 vs 330 that CCP had before.
Plus, they can't build higher than it was, there's a law limiting building heights to no taller than a coconut tree. :)

Good info on the ordinances. Let's watch where this goes...

Architect: "But what kind of coconut trees?"
Developer: "I dunno, it just says 'coconut trees.'"
Architect: "Well, in that case, let's use Jurassic coconut trees. The small
ones grew to be about, what, 300 feet tall? Yeah, that's the
City Council: "Oh, crap..."


I will just post those Elvis photos from the Coco Palms
from that last link.

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