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Ever since Coco Palms Resort closed in 1992 due to substantial damage from Hurricane Iniki, devotees of the iconic Kauai property have waited for news of its reopening. Now they have reason to cheer.
Hyatt Hotels recently announced that Coco Palms will undergo a comprehensive reconstruction, with work beginning in 2015. When the property reopens in 2017, it will feature 331 guestrooms, 32 bungalows and several restaurants, lounges and swimming pools. Plans call for preserving the original footprint of the property and its signature lagoon.
Hyatt will manage the property for the hotel’s Hawaii-based owner and developer, Coco Palms Hui.
Coco Palms opened in 1953 on grounds that were once home to the last reigning queen of Kauai, Deborah Kapule. Over the years, it garnered a devoted following with such distinctive touches as clamshell sinks in the guest bathrooms, thatched-roof pavilions and 2,000 coconut palms, one of the largest coconut groves in the state.
Setting new standards for Hawaiian hospitality, the hotel welcomed VIPs, heads of state, Hollywood stars and everyday travelers. It played a role in the 1961 Elvis Presley movie “Blue Hawaii” and in the film “South Pacific,” as well as the television show “Fantasy Island.”
According to Jordan Meisner, senior vice president of operations for Hyatt, the renovated Coco Palms will honor the spirit and history of the resort. An on-property community center will highlight the cultural significance of the site and teach visitors about the area’s native culture, history and arts.
Hawaii wholesaler Pleasant Holidays, which sold Coco Palms from the 1960s until its closure, will add the legendary hotel to its portfolio when it reopens, according to president Jack Richards.
“Any new or revitalized hotel in Hawaii is good news for travel agents and will stimulate travel demand,” Richards said. He expects Coco Palms to be a ”major draw for consumers and a net positive for travel agents selling Kauai.”
“There is great interest in reopening Coco Palms, which will help increase business to the island of Kauai from the U.S.,” said Richards. “Elvis fans in particular should be very interested in visiting the resort.”