POSTED: 18 MARCH 2008 - 10:00am HST

Kauai Lagoon Condos- Damn!
They're out at at the airport.

image above: illustration from Ritz Carlton's Kauai Lagoons website. Welcome aboard.

by Juan Wilson on 18 March 2008

There has been a long and spotty history of resort development to the east of Kalapaki Bay. In the early part of this decade my wife and I liked to go out to the Whaler's Brew Pub out by the Ninini Point Lighthouse. It was the only business out at the point. We'd go there at sunset to eat coconut crusted Thai shrimp and drink their dark ale. Sometimes we'd be about the only people there.

To get to Whaler's we had to drive past the Kauai Lagoons in the middle of the golf course and past an abandoned luxury shopping center. We could never quite understand who had built this monument to bad business planning but we liked the coconut shrimp and micro-brew beer, and the fantastic sunset views from Whaler's.

Since 2005 we've been reading about efforts to revive this resort area with a gargantuan plan by Kauai Lagoons LLC, a joint venture between a partnership led by local developer Kevin Showe and Marriott Vacation Club International.

For a while Ron Kouchi was the "local boy" pushing this project with a position as public relations director. Looking at Ron today I'd say it must have been very profitable. Now Ron is back on the County Council, and Phase One of the project is for sale.

mage above: The site plan for Kauai Lagoons.

Kauai Lagoons Phase One includes:

"Grand Residences by Marriott" (78 units)
"The Ritz-Carlton Residences
" (14 units)
"The Ritz-Carlton Club
" (28 units)

The Ritz-Carlton offering is being advertised for sale on TV and the internet. In the TV ad show well-heeled mainlanders in aloha togs are riding bikes, drinking wine, boating, golfing and having a wonderful time. The voice-over extols the high-end luxury features of living at the top of the food chain. There is an extended video version of the ad on the website without the voice-over. It's soundtrack sounds like generic golf course flyover muzak.

Both the TV ad and web video heavily feature travel on the water by water taxi and a classic Chris Craft pleasure boat.

In the ad they imply you'll be able to have your own boat, or ride a water taxi from the lagoon marina into the ocean and then off to distant exotic locales. For people unfamiliar with the layout of our island or the wildness of our ocean, some false conclusions will easily be made. Nothing in the Ritz-Carlton promotion hints at the the truth about the nature of Kauai Lagoon.

image above: Still from the web video showing the approach to Nawiliwili harbor and the southern tip of the site.

image above: Still from the web video showing a Chris Craft speeding in the water

image above: Still from the web video showing Huleia Stream entering Nawiliwili Harbor

image above: Still from the web video showing a cruise along the shoreline.

image above: Aerial view of Kauai Lagoons. "You’re only a water taxi ride away from dining and shopping."

image above: View of Nawiliwili harbor from abandoned Whaler's Brew Pub.

The advertising may be technically "accurate" but is guileful and evasive. They falsely portray one feature of the project and ignore another. If the Ritz-Carlton ad was not running every 20 minutes on CNN, CNBC and other stations I frequently watch, I would not have become so annoyed with their ad's implications.

There is a lagoon which is a reservoir for the site but it is not an inland waterway with access to the ocean or anywhere of the site of the project

The Kauai Lagoons project is nestled between the major runways of Lihue Airport and that is not mentioned..

The ad begins by asking the viewer to
"Listen to the sound of trade winds whispering"
and ends with ths instruction to
"Just stop and listen"

They never mention the sound of an approaching Boeing 737 with full flaps and reverse thrusters screaming overhead.

Below are a views of the proximity of the site to the runways.

mage above: View of Kauai lagoons lower left and main approach runway above it.

mage above: View of site plan in relation to GoogleEarth view of Lihue Airport

image above: View from the site of jet landing at Lihue Airport

"Imagine starting your day traversing the stunning Kauai Lagoons in a classically restored vessel. Teeing off on a Jack Nichlaus golf course and putting a birdie next to the Pacific. Enjoying the majestic view of plush mountains, on your way to a first class spa experience. Lounging on a private, white, sandy beach next to swaying palm trees and fragrant plumerias. Ending the day meeting friends for dinner at a luxurious restaurant overlooking the crystal azure waters of the sea. It’s no fantasy. All of this and more is available at the Ritz-Carlton Residences Kauai Lagoons."

From Ritz-Carlton Kauai Lagoons Website

Unique features and planned amenities of the Kaua‘i Lagoons Resort include:

• 520 acres on the shore of the Pacific Ocean and Kalapaki Bay
• Dramatic vistas of ocean, bay, golf course, mountains and lagoons
• World-famous Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf experience
• 38-acre freshwater lagoons
• Private homes, estate lots and villa opportunities
• The Spa at Kaua‘i Lagoons
• Fitness center
• Fine dining
• Docks and marina in freshwater lagoons
• Miles of bike paths, walking and jogging trails
• Shoreline access trails
• Five minutes from Lihu‘e Airport with shuttle services
• Water Taxi and shuttle service within Kaua‘i Lagoons Resort
• Minutes from Lihu‘e town shopping and restaurants
• Option of Condominiums or Town Homes

*The spa is proposed and subject to change.
The Developer does not guarantee a spa will be built.


Kauai Lagoons selling luxury condos
by Andrew Gomes 26 October 2006 in The Honolulu Advertiser

The new owners of the Kauai Lagoons resort yesterday unveiled a refined development plan that includes selling million-dollar house lots, multimillion-dollar condominiums, luxury time-share and even a few small private islands.

For sale at the high end: a pair of small islands in the man-made 38-acre lagoon for $8 million.

At the low end: a time-share permitting 21 days of annual use for about $300,000 and up.

The roughly estimated $1 billion redevelopment plan for the former Chris Hemmeter resort near Lihu'e is one of the biggest resort expansion projects in the state.

Jobs, shoreline access, more tax revenue as well as more than $1 billion in real estate sales are expected to come from completing the partially developed resort.

The plan involves selling 750 vacation accommodation units — a mix of time-share units, condos and single-family home lots — largely on a site Hemmeter originally envisioned for a second hotel.

Kauai Lagoons LLC, a joint venture between a partnership led by local developer Kevin Showe and Marriott Vacation Club International, has been formulating project details over the last year, and is now bringing the first parts of the expansion to market.

The developer recently began marketing two pairs of small islands — one pair for $5.5 million and the other for $8 million — as exclusive home sites.

On Wednesday, sales are slated to begin for a 78-unit condo complex named Kalanipu'u where prices for furnished units start at $1.7 million.

Early next year, the developer plans to start selling 14 condos under the Ritz-Carlton Residences brand for prices starting at $4.5 million.
Showe said Marriott's branding and the property's navigable waterway filled with fish will create a unique second-home and vacation resort that he believes will better weather the slowing real estate market.
"Clearly the real estate business is always a cyclical business," he said. "There is a slowing of resort developments in terms of demand, but this is a resort experience that is incomparable."

Showe projected that complete buildout of the plan could take 10 years and cost around $1 billion. He also estimated that at full capacity the resort will accommodate 2,000 to 2,500 visitors and have 500 to 600 employees.

The initial development phases include demolishing some of the decaying parts of the resort such as the abandoned retail center Fashion Landing and Inn on the Cliffs restaurant site, and building condos and time-share in their place.

Other initial work next year will involve moving the 14th and 15th holes of the Kiele Golf Course away from the lagoon and closer to the ocean to provide room for condos.

Two other Kiele holes, Nos. 9 and 10, will be relocated to make room for 50 single-family house lots along the golf course mauka of the lagoon.

Later phases of development will include roughly 300 furnished condos and 300 time-share units.

Of the condos, 252 are to be developed under Marriott's Grand Residences brand and 46 under Marriott's Ritz-Carlton Residences brand. Buyers have the freedom to use the units or rent them out through Marriott or outside management firms.

Prices and maintenance fees have not been determined, though average annual maintenance fees for Ritz-Carlton Residences are $36,000.

Of the time-share units, 72 are to be developed under the Ritz-Carlton Club operation affording 21 days of annual use, and 224 under the Marriott Vacation Club affording the more traditional one week of annual use.

Prices and maintenance fees have not been determined. The average Marriott Vacation Club time-share in Hawai'i costs $40,000. The average maintenance fee for the Ritz-Carlton Club on Maui is $16,500.

The Ritz-Carlton Residences and Grand Residences are new to Hawai'i, and essentially provide condo owners hotel-style services by Marriott, which can manage the units as nightly vacation rentals if owners choose.

Robert Calhoun, regional sales and marketing vice president for Marriott Vacation Club, said the project is the most diverse integration of Marriott brands at one resort.

"This is an absolute first for the company," he said, regarding the endeavor as greater than the company's hotel and 750-unit time-share at Ko Olina Resort & Marina on O'ahu.

Other parts of the Kauai development plan are 82 affordable rentals with one to three bedrooms at Waipouli, and 31 two-bedroom affordable condos to be for sale at Kauai Lagoons.

The rentals will be available to those earning 65 percent to 120 percent of Kaua'i's median income, or roughly $40,000 to $73,000 for a family of four. For-sale affordable condos will be available to first-time homebuyers earning 80 percent to 120 percent of Kaua'i's median income, or about $51,700 to $73,000.

Public shoreline access is being created from Kiele's 16th hole, which will lead to a planned comfort station with bathrooms, showers and picnic area. Access to a larger 4-mile stretch of shoreline from Kalapaki Beach to Ahukini Landing near the airport is being discussed with the county.

If completed as expected, development at Kauai Lagoons will largely complete development of the resort that has been difficult for other owners to finish.

Hemmeter opened Kauai Lagoons in 1987 with an ornate 840-room Westin Kauai hotel, a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course and wildlife-populated islets surrounded by the lagoon plied by gondolas.
A second Nicklaus golf course and two high-end shopping centers also were developed, but Hemmeter ran into financing problems that halted plans to build a second hotel, condos, time-share units and a third golf course.

Japanese firm Shinwa Golf Group acquired the golf courses, retail centers and expansion sites for about $200 million in 1991, but its effort to build on Hemmeter's grand vision was ruined the next year by Hurricane Iniki, whose damage forced the hotel and retail centers to close and hurt golf operations.

The hotel reopened in 1995 after it was bought by Marriott and converted to hotel and time-share use, but Shinwa abandoned its development plan and in 2002 was forced to sell its Hawai'i assets to help reduce debts.

Canada-based GolfBC acquired Shinwa's Kaua'i property in 2003, and partnered with Showe in 2004 to develop the resort, which already had most of the needed zoning for expansion.

Showe said he saw much of the property's potential in its lagoon, which he said would be impossible to develop today largely because of cost.

see also:
Island Breath: Foodland boycott demo 3/12/08
Island Breath: Nelson plan for Koloa 1/20/08
Island Breath: TGI #21 Koloa Monkeypods 1/11/08
Island Breath: Koloa Trees = Koloa Town 1/2/08
Island Breath: Short count on tree canopy 12/31/07
Island Breath: Candlelight Vigil for trees 12/29/07
Island Breath: Monkeypod S.O.S.
Island Breath: Monkeypod Threes Threatened 12/18/07
Island Breath: Koloa Village Plaza Plan 8/9/06
Island Breath: Koloa-Poipu Moratorium 7/23/06
Island Breath: Annuls of False Advertising - Kevin Showe 7/15/07