$200M Coco Palms
restoration gets OK

LIHUE » Elvis Presley fans can start planning their 2007 summer vacations: The Coco Palms Resort, where Elvis was married in the movie "Blue Hawaii" and where he spent his real honeymoon, will get a $200 million facelift.

The restoration project was approved yesterday by the Kauai County Planning Commission.

Considered the most elegant resort in all of Hawaii during the 1950s and 1960s, the Coco Palms has been closed since Sept. 11, 1992, when it was heavily damaged by Hurricane Iniki.

Developer Richard Weiser plans to spend $200 million to restore the hotel to look as close as possible to the Coco Palms in its glory days.

After the Planning Commission approved all the permits yesterday, Weiser said construction will begin this summer, and the 104-room resort should be open by the middle of 2007.

Despite being boarded up for 15 years, the resort is the high point of daily movie location tours of Kauai. One of the buildings that will be preserved is Cottage 56, also known as "The Elvis Cottage." It was used as a set in the 1961 movie "Blue Hawaii."

The rebuilt Coco Palms will have about 90 fewer rooms than the original to make space for 200 condominiums.

Although Weiser has won over most critics of the project, a handful of Hawaiian activists protested the plans for the hotel yesterday.

They want the property, which was the home of Deborah Kapule, wife of King Kaumualii and the last reigning queen of Kauai, preserved as a cultural park, even though there are no funds to build one.

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