Waimea cottage resort gets OK for expansion

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WAIMEA, Hawaii -- Waimea Plantation Cottages on Kauai is in the midst of alterations, plans and possibilities that could significantly increase the size of the resort while providing an economic boost to the island.

Aston Hotels & Resorts Hawaii, a subsidiary of ResortQuest International, manages the property, which comprises 58 cottages scattered over a 27-acre coconut grove.

The resort and the 600-acre parcel on which it sits are owned by the Hawaii-based Faye family. Recently, zoning was approved to allow a total of 250 units as well as the development of a golf course and a marina.

The resort also will be allowed to expand a spa completed a year ago.

Kelvin Bloom, president and chief operating officer of Aston Hotels & Resorts Hawaii, said the project is still "conceptual and quite fluid."

Though he could not quantify the expense, he said "it could range anywhere from eight digits to nine digits. ... It represents a very significant development and very significant introduction of capital."

But no matter what is done or when it is completed, those involved insist they will maintain the integrity of the "old Hawaiian plantation atmosphere."

"It's really important to keep the same ambience," said Paul Schow, general manager of Waimea Plantation Cottages.

"Nothing will be higher than two stories. And it has to fit the property that we already have. It will kind of melt into the [current] property."

Indeed, the resort maintains its authenticity through the Faye family's efforts. When a run-down plantation house is ready to be torn down -- anywhere on Kauai -- they purchase it and carry it away on a flatbed truck, then place it in their coconut grove and begin the restoration process.

Schow estimated that a minimum of $150,000 is put into each one. To this day, many cottages display the nameplate of the last family that resided there.

This is the ambience the Fayes and Aston do not want to change. But they do want to keep up with the growing demand for spa amenities and Kauai's emphasis on health and wellness.

Last year, one cottage was converted into the spa, and a whirlpool was added. A sauna appears to be next on the list, said Schow.

One of the development ideas is a public and private marina that would be developed in Kikiaola Harbor.

Currently, two companies have permits to operate out of the harbor, according to Schow, so a limited number of excursions might be possible.

Other plans include refurbishing two more multibedroom units like the Kruse house.

Completed in September, the five-bedroom cottage has a common kitchen and living room suitable for corporate meetings or family reunions. But the units also can operate individually, bed-and-breakfast style.

As an incentive to agents, Waimea Plantation Cottages is in line with all Aston Hawaii properties in offering 10% commission across the board, in addition to 50% off the rack rate for travel professionals who visit.

For additional information, call (808) 338-1625 or visit www.waimea-plantation.com.

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