As a child and also a teenager, my parents took our family to Hawaii many times. We vacationed on Kauai and stayed at the world famous COCO PALMS HOTEL at the Wailua river. The Hotel was famous and had been in many Hollywood movies such as South Pacific, Blue Hawaii and many more. the Coco Palms Resort Hotel was within walking distance to the beautiful Pacific Ocean and the Wailua Beach. Each evening the Lagoon Dining room would fill with families and it was like going back in time to a simpler time. During the holidays in 1973 my Dad took us for Thanksgiving and our family was able to see the famous tree planting ceremony for those of us who were lucky enough to be there at that time period. That ceremony left an impression on me and established a love for the hotel and lodging industry. The pride of the Hawaiians, and the pride of the hard work was especially gratifying for me to see.
Fast forward to 2003, my husband and I were married on the beautiful island of Kauai. The Coco Palms Hotel has been closed since 1992 when the Hurricane Iniki damaged the resort with winds and rain. Through a long time friend, Joe Kauo my husband and I had the good fortune to meet the original Hotel Manager of the Coco Palms, his name is “Big John Kauo” in 2009. Big John started out as a waiter and worked his way up to Hotel Manager. He tells the story of doing almost every job at the Hotel from dishwasher to panty manager to managing the bellman.