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Tiki Central Forums » » Locating Tiki » » Coco Palms Resort Hotel, Kauai, HI (Hotel)
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Coco Palms Resort Hotel, Kauai, HI (Hotel)
aquarj
Grand Member (8 years)  

Joined: Apr 02, 2002
Posts: 1076
From: SF bay area, CA
Posted: 2012-09-06 09:08 am   Permalink

Yes bigbro, although there is almost zero tiki there, the Coco Palms and its architecture are iconic. Lots of good mana, vibes, chi, juju, uh... fahrvergnugen (?) there. I highly recommend Bob's Coco Palms tour to anyone visiting Kauai. Bob used to run a Kauai movie tour of several sites on the island, including the Coco Palms. But now it's just the Coco Palms, and together with his wife he is also acting as caretaker. When you see some of the shots by the lagoon with the close cropped grass, that is thanks to them. Otherwise that stuff grows like gangbusters in Kauai. They've also tried to combat some of the poaching, which has even included their own maintenance tools.

And Vamp now that you bring it up, as a matter of fact, there **IS** news in the works with some new owners. I have more to post on that later, but Bob told us about a Korean group that is proposing to redevelop the site. The good news is that their plans attempt to preserve the character and even some of the structures, where possible. We got to see 3 development renderings, which I'll share here, coming up.

But as much as that may be good news for the site, it still means that there could be limited time to see it as it is. Not that ANYTHING moves fast in Kauai, EVER, and especially not development. Anyway, just a word to the wise for the yearning explorer.

-Randy


 
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4WDtiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 03, 2004
Posts: 1856
From: Omao, Kauai
Posted: 2012-09-06 09:36 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2012-09-06 00:42, aquarj wrote:


Our visit started thanks to this thread, in fact the preceding post from 4WDtiki with the info about Larry Rivera. My parents went to Kauai for their 10th anniversary in 1972, and stayed at the Coco Palms. So this year the family gathered in Kauai for my parents' 50th anniversary, 40 years later. I wanted to see if it'd be possible to arrange an official visit. After contacting Larry Rivera (a living legend who's definitely worth another story), I learned that a guy named Bob Jasper conducts tours of the Coco Palms for a decent fee. We decided to take the whole family to that, and I have to say it was really outstanding. Naturally we couldn't explore on our own, but it was 2+ hours of pretty thorough walking around and tons of great stories about the land, the Guslanders, and a wealth of movie trivia.



aquarj, thanks for returning the favor! From your above link to the newspaper article, I learned that locals can take the tour for free on Fridays! I've been dying to go, and drive by there every day on the way to work, always eyeballing the place as I go by.
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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4252
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2012-09-06 9:05 pm   Permalink

Randy, thanks for posting those great photos. What a fun family excursion.

Here are a few old slides photos I clipped from the web from the Coco Palms to give a look when it was thriving.


























Look forward to some more of your photos.

DC


 
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Bora Boris
Mr. Unreasonable

Joined: Mar 25, 2005
Posts: 2570
From: Boogie Wonderland
Posted: 2012-09-06 9:29 pm   Permalink

While we wait for more amazing photos from Randy, here's a favorite I downloaded the other day.

South Pacific's France Nuyen at the Coco Palms.



 
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aquarj
Grand Member (8 years)  

Joined: Apr 02, 2002
Posts: 1076
From: SF bay area, CA
Posted: 2012-09-06 9:57 pm   Permalink

4WDtiki - yeah check it out, there were some locals with us when we took the tour. I don't know if the kamaaina deal still holds, but could be.

DC - those photos are fantastic! Great to see old shots like that, especially with the Kamalani canoe and also a shot of the lagoon and dining area.

Some more pics. In the last set I ended at the approach to the dining area. From this view, looking to the right is the Lagoon Terrace Lounge, and the left is the Lagoon Dining Area.


So after crossing over the bridge and under the A-frame, here's looking to the right




Great mural with the colors still bright


One thing I love about places of this pedigree is how attention was given to almost every surface in terms of texture and design, with combinations of forms (geometrical and natural) and materials (rock, wood, reed, ceramic, etc.)


Now looking the other way, to the Lagoon Dining Area


The curved supports coming down from the A-frame


After passing through, looking back up at the A-frame we just exited. Guests would see this as they come to dine or lounge.




That hut thing is the fire pit


Closer look


Stairs to mystery


Next we got to go into one of the buildings there with the hotel rooms. Of course there's no power, so it's pitch black until you go into a room, where the only light comes from the dusty windows. Here's one of those giant clam shell sinks intact. (This was almost total darkness, so I leaned on the wall to take a long exposure.)


Outside the building we were just in


Stepping back a few paces, we were just in the building on the left, and there on the right is what we've been waiting for - THE LOBBY!


Next time I'll post more images of the lobby.

-Randy


 
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aquarj
Grand Member (8 years)  

Joined: Apr 02, 2002
Posts: 1076
From: SF bay area, CA
Posted: 2012-09-06 10:11 pm   Permalink

Hey, great photo Boris - what a beauty! I guess that must've been during the filming of South Pacific, because the Penhallow book shows that the cast and crew stayed there. Rossano Brazzi celebrated his 39th birthday in the Coco Palms dining room (young guy!).

-Randy


 
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aquarj
Grand Member (8 years)  

Joined: Apr 02, 2002
Posts: 1076
From: SF bay area, CA
Posted: 2012-09-07 9:43 pm   Permalink

This batch of photos is the spectacular Coco Palms lobby - jawdropping to get a sense for what it was, and sad to see what it is...

Looking from the outside, at the end that is collapsing


On the lower left you can see how the beam split, and above that, how it pulled away from the roof


Here you can see that first arch resting back on the second one




Now inside, on this whole side of the lobby the concave arches have turned convex (or something like that)


Turning toward the main desk




Like a ghost










Turning toward the other end of the lobby




On this side the giant arches still look reasonably intact with the original concave curve








Still more after this!

-Randy


 
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abstractiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 604
From: Lodi, CA
Posted: 2012-09-08 09:33 am   Permalink

aquarj, nice work. Love this temple.

 
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aquarj
Grand Member (8 years)  

Joined: Apr 02, 2002
Posts: 1076
From: SF bay area, CA
Posted: 2012-09-09 9:24 pm   Permalink

My last set of pics starts with the view out from the lobby across the original receiving area where cars would drive up.


Akiko's Taxi sign is still there opposite the lobby. Those stairs lead up into a building that I think was offices and shops.


Looking in the window of one of those shops opposite the lobby - maybe this was some kind of travel service.


Looking back at the lobby


The receiving area outside the lobby is flanked by two stands like this.


The other side of the receiving area. Look at all the Daily Activities and Tours Available - Waimea Canyon tour, Kalalau Valley tour, Paradise Pacifica garden tour, Na Pali Zodiac boat expedition, and of course Wedding Arrangements.


Just stepping to the right from the last photo, this is looking back toward the building we were in earlier.


Now looking back at the receiving area and the lobby. That little rock platform on the island in the center is where the tower used to stand.


Turning to the right


More to the right


Cool how they use the same motifs


Looking back on another building. We didn't go over there, but some of the earlier posts on this thread had some more pics from that building I think.


The transparent roof


Looking back as we head toward the front gate




Back at the front gate


OK, now the good news! I hope it's not a breach of anything to show the development plans here - it was fantastic that Bob could bring them out. We got to see three renderings from the latest owner's concept. It was very gratifying to hear that they want to keep a lot of the original character and even some of the buildings where possible, despite the hard fact that much of the site is beyond repair.

Here's the site plan. Much of the original concept holds - the landmark central lobby, the lagoons, the array of outlying buildings (not high-rise). They also want to renovate the Seashell restaurant over on the beach side of the highway, and also build a footbridge for access to the restaurant and the beach.


Rendering of the buildings along the lagoon


The lobby area - maybe a little scaled down, but very evocative of the original


OK, that's it for the photos I took on this visit, but I'd like to post some more stuff I've been gathering as well, coming up!

-Randy


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11107
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2012-09-09 11:46 pm   Permalink

Wow, I am ready to jump on a plane right now! ....wait, I'm in Germany right now...and I just was in Hawaii...Sigh...






 
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christiki295
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 09, 2003
Posts: 3811
From: LA-2547 mls east Hawaii &5500 Easter Is
Posted: 2012-09-10 07:50 am   Permalink

DC: Thank you for the excellent photodocumentary, especially as that structure is, once again, rumored to be redeveloped:

Patrick Duddy, of Relax Hotels and Spas and Maxum Construction of Hawai‘i LLC, has been behind the scenes of Coco Palms development for years.

He is reportedly working with as-yet-unnamed investors interested in the property.

“This project is a great opportunity and once we get investors to pull the trigger, we can bring back an incredible property for the people of Kaua‘i,” Duddy said. “The mayor of the island is an absolute prince who really wants to see it built.”

Duddy said he is working with various groups to try to bring the project to fruition. There are huge challenges, he said, from incorporating existing entitlements and permits with their vision to move forward.

“It has not happened yet,” Duddy said. “We are in constant communication.”

The resort zoning area is for 16.4 acres, while the 17-acre coconut grove is conservation-zoned land leased from the Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources.

A major issue, Duddy said, is that the property is below the FEMA flood plane and likely could not be insured in its current condition. He said there is a good chance of getting a project started if the groups work through the due diligence process.

Hurricane ‘Iniki severely damaged the property in 1992 and it fell into disrepair as insurance claim battles went on for years.

The County Planning Commission denied a health and fitness spa project in 2007. The most recent effort to build a condominium, housing and hotel project was abandoned soon after, with another hotel project by the current owner, Phillip Ross and Coco Palms Ventures, said to be derailed by the economic downfall in 2008.

The resort plans lagged and the county granted an extension of permits in 2009 to allow the owners to demolish and construct by 2013. The current permit is to build 200 multi-family dwellings and 48 hotel units, along with rebuilding the Seashell Restaurant, a pedestrian bridge over Kuhio Highway and traffic improvements.

The property remains up for sale with the project not showing any signs of progress.

As Coco Palms lay dormant, other work in the area has drawn protests as burials and artifacts continue to be uncovered during construction digs. There are natural wetlands on the property that parallels the mouth of the Wailua River. It was once the site of many royal dwellings and religious structures.
The fishpond was man-made and has taken a variety of shapes through the centuries. It was designated in the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.

Nonprofit groups have fought to protect the property and to require any project to preserve and ensure public to cultural and historic areas.

Friends of Coco Palms, an informal group committed to protecting the history and culture of Coco Palms, began meeting in 2007. The Hawaiian Islands Land Trust serves as fiscal sponsor.

Contemporary concerns also focus on preserving the history of the world-famous resort. The property was a location for several well-known movie scenes and many celebrities were regular guests at the hotel. Thousands of couples were married at the lagoon and honeymooned at the hotel and cottages.

In 2009, arson heavily damaged the retail annex that fronts the highway. The site has more recently become the target of vandals, copper thieves and ornament hunters.

The only allowed activity on the property recently has been the Hawai‘i Movie Tours by Bob Jasper. Each weekday at 2 p.m., for $20 — or free to Kaua‘i residents on Fridays — he offers a tour and storytelling of the safe areas of the movie sites, grove, lagoon and the main lobby with its roof ripped back as a living reminder of the destructive force of Hurricane ‘Iniki.


 
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aquarj
Grand Member (8 years)  

Joined: Apr 02, 2002
Posts: 1076
From: SF bay area, CA
Posted: 2012-09-10 09:34 am   Permalink

Quote:
On 2012-09-10 07:50, christiki295 wrote:
Patrick Duddy, of Relax Hotels and Spas and Maxum Construction of Hawai‘i LLC, has been ...


Just to give attribution, that text is from
this article in The Garden Island, which has the interesting title - "Coco Palms sale remains unofficial".

I forgot to mention, the tour guy Bob Jasper mentioned a facebook page, which I think is this one. Looks like a lot of interesting stuff on there, including a comment that there were some errors in the Garden Island article quoted and linked above.

-Randy


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aquarj
Grand Member (8 years)  

Joined: Apr 02, 2002
Posts: 1076
From: SF bay area, CA
Posted: 2012-09-14 12:03 am   Permalink

Maybe it's fitting to have a burst of new info about the Coco Palms now, since it was 20 years ago, almost to the day (9/11/1992 !!!), that hurricane Iniki hit Kauai and caused the damage that triggered the end of an era.

Here are some screencaps circa 1961 from Blue Hawaii scenes at the Coco Palms, with some modern day views intermingled. Unfortunately I don't have a great copy of Blue Hawaii, so the quality is so-so...

The Coco Palms wagon pulling off the highway into the hotel








Horseback riding - that's the chapel in the background on the left


Inside the same chapel building now


Here's one of the two bridges on the path to the dining area


Same bridge (far left) as the group walks to their cottages. The dining area is behind the group (offscreen to the right), but doesn't appear in any shots. And the dining area A-frame with the giant conch shell wasn't there yet.


Almost identical view, at night with the torch ceremony


Dialog beside the fire pit




Same fire pit (or same location anyway, may have been rebuilt sometime)


Inside Elvis / Chad's cottage, we see him standing at the shell sink and it almost looks like the gold tiles are there. Someone's knocking?


Oh, it's just that pesky Ellie




More visitors


Similar shot today, supposedly this was the exact same cottage. Probably sometime someone said the original natural colors were too dark, so the shutters and the lava rocks along the lower wall have been painted white.


Opposite that door is this back door...


...which is the same door the girls are running out


And now they're clustered around the outdoor shower




Here's one of those outdoor lava rock showers now. It must've been rebuilt with rougher rock.


Now for a little plot stuff - the girl's teacher is excited about something, and it seems she's excited about Elvis / Chad




Just then Chad's girlfriend Maile is walking up (note how the path ends, which means this is the very first cottage)


Looks bad to Maile, but it's really just a happy hug, because...


...the teacher was happy because she found love. This must be in one of the lagoon dining areas.


Elvis / Chad runs to Maile's cottage. Here's that current view of the cottage exterior again.


Running to tell Maile the good news...




She's not in the mood to hear his news




Back to the lovebirds on the lagoon


Big business deal in the bar


Everything else is speedily resolved, and we get the famous lagoon wedding scene






Launching from the area of the same two bridges near the dining lounges, the ones they walked across earlier




Here's the view today from roughly the same spot, looking up the lagoon














-Randy


 
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aquarj
Grand Member (8 years)  

Joined: Apr 02, 2002
Posts: 1076
From: SF bay area, CA
Posted: 2012-09-17 10:33 pm   Permalink

Of course there are many many movies filmed at the Coco Palms, and probably Blue Hawaii is the most famous. How about the 1967 Japanese movie Minami Taheiyo no Wakadaisho? Roughly translated as "Young Guy in the South Pacific", this was an installment in the series of Japanese films starring Yuzo Kayama as Yuichi, the Wakadaisho ("young guy") in the title. Throughout these films, Yuzo Kayama roughly translates as the Japanese Elvis, with a little singing, a bunch of pretty girls, a little trouble, a climactic competition of some sort, and a happy ending with more singing.

In this one, Yuichi is hopping the South Pacific in pursuit of Sumi-chan, an airline stewardess. One of the stops is on Kauai, with a helicopter ride around the interior canyons and then a quick scene (and song) on the grounds of the Coco Palms. The following scenes are actually with a different girl Yumiko, but I'll skip that subplot.

Yuichi sings with ukulele in the coconut grove


And along the lagoon


Probably the Queen's Cottages in the background, as he sees Yumiko


There's Yumiko! This is that same pair of bridges that leads to the dining area. You can see the tall lobby roofline in the background, and the absence of the A-frame over the dining area (apparently not built yet in 1967).


Neat action shot, with more of the lobby roofline visible






Despite the exotic locations, this movie is also known by the more pedestrian title Judo Champion in English speaking countries, because -you guessed it- there's a judo competition involved at the end. Here's the movie poster...



Now just for fun, a couple comparison images of that same view looking over the bridges toward the dining area. First, back to Elvis and 1961. See that palm trunk curving off to the right in the foreground?


That's the same palm curving off on the far left side here in 1967.


And here's a very similar angle in a beautiful shot from the Penhallow book, after the A-frame and second level were built, and the giant shell too


Some more good images to come from that book, which is highly recommended BTW. That is, David Penhallow's "The Story of the Coco Palms Hotel: The Grace Buscher Guslander Years 1953-1985" as discussed a few places here on TC. Great people stories. I'd still love to read more of the architectural and design stories too, but really the book is without precedent as a history devoted to a single place. But in the end it makes sense, cuz there's something special about the Coco Palms.

-Randy


 
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aquarj
Grand Member (8 years)  

Joined: Apr 02, 2002
Posts: 1076
From: SF bay area, CA
Posted: 2012-09-17 10:37 pm   Permalink

Oh yeah, and one more comparison with that A-frame shot, here's roughly the same angle now


-Randy


 
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