|Remembering and Reviving the
Coco Palms Hotel
From The Star-Bulletin, Thursday, April 6, 2000:
Grace Buscher Guslander,
Grace Buscher Guslander, world-renowned Kauai hotelier, died at her home in Wailua, Kauai yesterday at age 89.
A native of Collegeville, Pa., she came to Hawaii in 1948 and worked at a variety of jobs until 1953 when Lyle Guslander, owner of the hospitality company Island Holidays, bought what was then a 24-room roadside lodge on Kauai, the Coco Palms, and asked her to manage it for him.
She developed it into a 35-acre Polynesian-style resort that would become famous as a movie setting.
She married Guslander in 1969, the same year he sold his business to Amfac Inc.
The hotel became known for the remaining coconut trees of what had been a copra plantation, the giant clamshell wash basins and its outdoor, low-rise flavor of Polynesian hospitality.
The 396-room hotel at Wailua has been closed since it was severely damaged by Hurricane Iniki in September 1992. It is scheduled to be torn down and turned into a time-share resort.
Guslander won a worldwide title of Hotel Manager of the Year in 1965, and in 1979 was the first woman to win the Man of the Year award at the International Hotel, Motel and Restaurant show in New York.
She had a flair for showmanship, remembered the names of most of her guests and was known as the grande dame of Hawaiian hospitality.
Guslander is credited with pioneering the Hawaiian torch-lighting ceremony, which hotels throughout the islands copied from the Coco Palms. She worked until 1985, when she was 74. Lyle Guslander died in April 1984.
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