Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Sunday (Maroochydore, Australia)

Hawaiian Resort No Longer Blue; the Iconic Coco Palms Is to Be Refurbished after Being Decimated by a Hurricane 22 Years Ago, David Ellis Reports

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Sunday (Maroochydore, Australia)

Hawaiian Resort No Longer Blue; the Iconic Coco Palms Is to Be Refurbished after Being Decimated by a Hurricane 22 Years Ago, David Ellis Reports

Article excerpt

THE news that $100million-plus is to be spent on renovating and re-opening a resort that's been closed since a trashing by a hurricane 22 years ago is hardly likely to have many folk wanting to leap, one would think.

After all, by the time it re-opens in 2017 it will have been a quarter of a century since that cyclone, and some 60 years since the resort opened in the first place.

Wouldn't it be more logical to simply bulldoze it, and build a brand-spanking new resort, rather than a strapping-up of the old?

Normal logic would say "yes". But this is no normal resort. And as soon as word got out a few weeks back about its revamp, packagers of weddings, honeymoons and marriage-vow renewals were in a literal grid-iron frenzy to be first to get to the resort's new owners.

Why? Because we're talking about the grand old Coco Palms Resort on the island of Kauai in Hawaii, made oh-so famous when Elvis Presley "married" Joan Blackman there a whole 53 years ago in one of the most-watched movies ever: Blue Hawaii.

That 1961 20-minute "wedding" had such an impact on audiences - the film's soundtrack album topped American charts for 20 consecutive weeks - that the Coco Palms Resort was instantly flooded with enough bookings for weddings to have it scheduling multiple events almost daily for months on end.

Even 31 years later, when Hurricane Iniki swept over Coco Palms and much of the rest of Kauai, look-alike Blue Hawaii weddings were still a major part of its business.

Coco Palms had been built in the early 1950s with just 24 rooms on a beachside playground of Kauai's one-time royal family, opening with all of two guests who were nonetheless treated equally royally during their stay by a general manager and four staff.

It grew over the years to a sprawling 400 condominium units and traditional-style rooms, amid a plantation of 2000 coconut palms planted by the Kauai royals, and hectares of latter-day gardens, tropical orchids, ferns and shrubs.

Then in September 1992 Hurricane Iniki rampaged across Kauai with winds of 300kmh, with one gust registering an incredible 365kmh.

Almost all of Coco Palms' windows and doors were blown in (or out), rain flooded every corner of every room and public space, furnishings were trashed, and the gardens resembled more a mulching depot than a once-lush tropical showpiece. …

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