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Coco Palms could be next for Wyland
By Kristen Consillio / kconsillio@starbulletin.com

July 3, 2008

World-renowned marine life artist Wyland, along with a San Diego hotel developer, is aggressively seeking to acquire and put his name on Kauai's historic Coco Palms Resort.

San Diego-based eRealty Cos., which unveiled yesterday the artist's penthouse studio at the Wyland Waikiki hotel, is attempting to expand the contemporary boutique hotel concept to the neighbor islands.

The partners want to seal a deal by the end of the summer to acquire Coco Palms, which is the ideal site to open a second Wyland-themed hotel, said Ed Bushor, a principal at eRealty.

"We want to turn it back into a great location for the state and for people to travel to," Bushor said. "We're making it our mission to make that a green Wyland hotel."

Their goal is to acquire by the end of summer two neighbor island properties, including Coco Palms, and attempt to help the state acquire and protect the controversial Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu's North Shore, where Wyland resides.

"Of course you'd have to develop the hotel (site), but we would develop it sensibly at the right pace and keep the North Shore country," said Wyland, a longtime conservationist.

The partners have targeted an undisclosed second hotel property in Kihei on Maui, and want to redevelop an existing hotel in Kona either through an acquisition or joint venture, Bushor said.

We like to pick a hotel out that's in disrepair," he said. "Wherever there's a hotel in need we want to come in and make it green again and make it beautiful."

The cost to restore Coco Palms, the island's only hotel still shuttered by 1992's Hurricane Iniki, would be close to $40 million in addition to the purchase price, according to Bushor.

Coco Palms Ventures, which bought the Wailua resort in 2006 for $12.3 million and put the 18.8-acre property up for sale last September, shelved plans to restore the resort made famous in Elvis Presley's film "Blue Hawaii" in favor of other projects on the East Coast and due to a slowdown in the residential resort market.

The project has permits for 200 luxury condominiums, 104 hotel units, restaurants and retail shops.

Meanwhile, Bushor said the cost to redevelop and transform smaller properties to Wyland hotels will range between $10 million and $15 million.

Their expansion plans include developing a Wyland hotel on every major island and make the properties 100 percent green.

eRealty, the exclusive developer of Wyland hotels, hopes to build at least one Wyland-themed property each year over the next five years, focusing solely on Hawaii and eventually branching out to the mainland and overseas, Bushor said.

"We'd like to hit 20 hotels in the next 10 to 15 years," he said.

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