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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, January 28, 2006

Coco Palms Hotel sale means rebirth

By Jan TenBruggencate
Advertiser Kaua'i Bureau

The torch-lighting ceremony by canoe paddlers will be revived when the Coco Palms Hotel on Kaua'i reopens in 2008, its new owners say.

Coco Palms Hotel

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LIHU'E, Kaua'i The sale of the Coco Palms Hotel closed yesterday, clearing the way for its new owners to start a $220 million reconstruction project as part of a plan to reopen the classic hotel by the summer of 2008 55 years after it originally opened.

Developer Richard Weiser said his goal is to capture in the new Coco Palms the history and feeling of the property Kaua'i's first resort hotel and the prototype for Polynesian hotels across the Pacific. Weiser said plans are for 196 condominium apartments and 48 bungalow-style hotel rooms on the property. He said people who knew the old Coco Palms will "see a lot of similarity of design."

Mayor Bryan Baptiste, helping announce the sale, predicted that "the aloha spirit will hopefully permeate from those buildings again."

Coco Palms Ventures LLC is a joint project of The Weiser Companies and Petrie Ross Ventures. Richard Weiser, Walt Petrie and Phil Ross are its principals. Yesterday's sale covered 16.4 acres of fee simple land and 17 acres of leased state land, most of which makes up the coconut grove.

As part of the rebuilding, Coco Palms is participating in the expansion of the stretch of Kuhio Highway fronting the resort from three to four lanes.

The hotel was built around ancient royal ponds, and situated between a coconut grove and the white sands of Wailua Bay on Kaua'i's eastern coast.

"The Coco Palms has been a part of a lot of people's lives," Baptiste said. Among them is former Mayor Maryanne Kusaka, who is assisting Weiser in the restoration. She recalled that she was once a singer there.

Reach Jan TenBruggencate at jant@honoluluadvertiser.com.