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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, October 28, 2004

Kapalawai Resort developer sticking with original plan

By Jan TenBruggencate
Advertiser Kaua'i Bureau

LIHU'E, Kaua'i — After an attempt to modify the proposed Kapalawai Resort to make it more "family-friendly," developer Lew Geyser has decided to proceed with his original proposal of 250 separate cottages on a vast lawn surrounding an ancient inland fishpond.

Geyser this week withdrew plans before the Kaua'i Planning Commission to reduce the project density but convert 42 of the units into two-bedroom units with kitchens. The original plan called for 500-square-foot cottages, each with a covered lanai and wet bar, but no kitchen. All would have views of the ocean.

The project is on 160 acres of oceanfront land near Pakala Village that is owned by the West Kaua'i Robinson family. A sprawling 1897 Robinson family home will be restored and be part of the project. The old inland fishpond will be restored, as will an old Portuguese oven and other historic sites on the property.

Geyser said the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks changed the landscape for financing resorts, and he was unable to get financing for the hotel. In discussions with hotel operators and financiers, he was urged to change the configuration of the resort. Some wanted the cottages nearer the water. Others wanted all units to have kitchens. Still, others were satisfied with a mix of kitchen units and cottages without kitchens.

One consistent recommendation, he said, was that he consider developing a condominium-hotel. This way, the loan to develop the property could be fairly quickly paid off through the sale of the cottages as condominium units. The units would then be rented as hotel rooms when owners are not using them.

Geyser said he found that some members of the Kaua'i community, who had backed the original hotel plan, had concerns about units with kitchens. Instead of risking a denial of his revised project, Geyser said he decided to seek financing for the original 250-unit, no-kitchen configuration, but to market the units as a hotel-condominiums.

"The hotel gets most of the units," he said.

He said he is in discussions with two companies that could finance the project. "I am so close. I expect it will be done in four to six weeks," he said.

Geyser's Kapalawai Resort LLC has not yet made a deal with a hotel firm to manage the project.

Reach Jan TenBruggencate at jant@honoluluadvertiser.com or (808) 245-3074.