Insight Hawaii Insight ‘Fresh eyes’ on a favorite Kauai resort By Shane Nelson / July 14, 2014 Share 1 -- After nearly 19 years in the Aston Hotels & Resorts portfolio, the Waimea Plantation Cottages property on Kauai is now operating under new management. Coast Hotels, which is Canada’s largest hotel brand and now manages 10 properties in the U.S., took over day-to-day operations at the 27-acre, 60-cottage resort last week, marking a return to Hawaii for a hospitality company that formerly managed hotel properties on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island of Hawaii. A long-time favorite for many experienced Kauai travelers, the Waimea Plantation Cottages offer some of the most authentic accommodations in the state, consisting entirely of fully renovated former sugar plantation homes, many with multiple bedrooms, dating to the first half of the 20th century. Located in one of Hawaii’s most tranquil oceanfront settings, each of the property’s individual cottages has a full kitchen, refurbished period furniture and a covered outdoor lanai, all steeped in a genuine, old Hawaii feel that’s unlike any other resort I’ve stayed at in the Islands. Plus the stargazing on a cloud-free night there is just breathtaking. As the Waimea Plantation Cottages are truly one of my favorite hotel experiences anywhere, I wanted to know what Coast Hotels hand in mind for the place moving forward, and asked the company’s executive vice president and COO, Doug Rigoni, if the British Columbia-based management firm intends to maintain the property’s authentic appeal. “That is the pure, 100% focus for us at this property,” he assured me. “I’m so enthusiastic about this place. You go there and it just touches you. … People really love that hotel.” Rigoni told me he got married on Oahu only a few weeks ago and said he’d been out to the Waimea Plantation Cottages since then, a recent Kauai experience he raved about. “You can sit there and enjoy the smell of the flowers, listen to the birds, and the chickens of course, and hear the ocean crashing, enjoy the cool breeze and the sunshine,” he said. “That’s what the place is for: to just let it all be and take it all in. It moves me right now just talking about it because it’s such a magical place.”Still, ownership decided to change management companies for a reason, and I asked Rigoni if he could tell me why. “I just think the owners wanted to have some fresh eyes on the property,” he told me. “Aston is a good company, that’s been in Hawaii a long time, and I’ve got nothing but good things to say about my friends in the hotel industry.”Rigoni conceded there would be changes moving forward, but said Coast Hotels is still early on in its evaluation process, noting that turning to the Waimea Plantation Cottages’ many longtime employees will be a major part of future planning. “There are long-term people that have been there 25 years or more,” he explained, adding that personalized, attentive service will certainly be a focus. “They know that feeling we want to capture.” Meanwhile, daily rates won’t “significantly change” in the near term, according to Rigoni. An excellent launching point for travelers interested in spending significant time hiking in or around Kauai’s stunning Waimea Canyon and the island’s gorgeous Kokee State park, or those looking to explore the Garden Isle’s less frequently visited western coast, Waimea Plantation Cottages is a popular location for large family weddings and is particularly well-suited for multigenerational vacation bookings. Visit www.waimea-plantation.com.