Luck was not with the Hanalei Colony Resort in 2018 as it suffered through damaging spring floods followed by a devastating fire in the middle of summer. Now, after 20 months of cleanup, repairs and construction, the property is ready to reopen to the public.
In April 2018, the north shore of Kauai was hit with record rainfall. Flood waters swept down from the mountains, destroying farms, tearing down homes and blocking roads with landslides.
The Hanalei Colony Resort, west of the actual town of Hanalei, was cut off from regular vehicle traffic for more than a year. As road repairs were executed, only residents and workers were allowed to use the narrow roads.
For a while the resort served as a community hub, distributing food and medical supplies while also housing construction workers, volunteers and government officials. Then, at the end of July, an electrical fire broke out in the laundry facility. The road closures made it that much harder for firefighters to get there, and the laundry and housekeeping areas were lost. Overall, Richards estimated the cost of the damage at $8 million, with the majority coming from the fire.
"We certainly anticipated being open by now. Who could ever have thought this could take so long?" said general manager Laura Richards. "The road closure impacted us quite a bit because it was hard to get people in and out, and you had to wait a long time to even start repairs."
All of the flood repairs are complete, but there is still work to be done on the property, including rebuilding the lost laundry and housekeeping facilities, so only a portion of the available suites will be rented in order to minimize construction impacts on guests.
Although the property is not fully restored yet, management decided it was time to bring back guests and restore some normalcy. The Hanalei Colony Resort is now taking reservations for stays starting Dec. 20.
"We've been working with limited funds and not all of the insurance claims are resolved yet, but we've remodeled one whole building, four suites, that will be newly opened in December," Richards said. "We had in-house carpenters, so I kept them on during the closure to work on repairs. We had a bridge from one side of the property to the other, and when that collapsed it took out our Wi-Fi and electricity. So that was a big project."
Much of the staff was forced to find work elsewhere during the closure, but Richards was pleased to report that the majority are now returning along with the guests. The resort first opened in 1969 and features 45 suites, a restaurant and day spa.
"We're really excited," Richards said. "We've been serving various organizations and holding community events here, but we felt it was time for guests to come back and to get going again. The reservations started coming in right away, and we are already pretty much sold out for Christmas. It's just been phenomenal after being closed for over a year and a half."
The resort hoped to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2019, but as it became a lost year in terms of guests, the revelry will have to wait until 2020.
"We'll still celebrate like it's our 50th, just a little late," Richards said.