For 30 years, the Coco Palms Resort on Hawaii‘s island of Kauai has laid in ruins. Famously featured in Elvis Presley’s film “Blue Hawaii,” the resort is under new ownership, and its fate could be decided this week.
The new owners want to build a new 350-room hotel on the same site, according to KITV, and the permits are up for approval at a Kauai Planning Commission meeting on Tuesday. Opponents, however, would prefer it be turned down and replaced with a park or cultural preserve.
“They’re given special exemption to rebuild on an Iniki ordinance from 30 years ago. I mean, when our whole understanding of environment and our whole understanding of like cultural significance, it’s changed. Our entire understanding of how we go about projects like this has changed. So we really need to change,” Fern Holland of Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action told Hawaii News Now.
A Hawaiiana resort built in the 1950s, the Coco Palms Resort sits among 2,000 coconut trees. Its design was Hawaiian-influenced with thatched-roof cottages and held nightly torch-lighting ceremonies. Film productions shot on the island brought movie stars, such as Boris Karloff and Rita Hayworth, to its doors. Elvis Presley’s film “Blue Hawaii” featured the Coco Palms and showcased the resort’s lagoons in a scene when Elvis is serenading his bride.
In 1992, the Category 4 hurricane, Iniki, hits Kauai with sustained winds up to 145 mph. Already known to have a persistent flooding issue, the hotel was flooded by the hurricane, which caused too much damage to reopen. The derelict resort can be seen on the side of the road when driving by the Wailua River.
There have been many investors since 1992 who have tried to revive the hotel, but failed. The last developer defaulted, according to KITV.