Old Kalapaki recalled at the opening of the Kauai Surf Hotel

On Friday evening, July 1, 1960, a party celebrating the opening that day of Inter-Island Resorts’ Kauai Surf Hotel at Kalapaki was held at the Planter’s Bar lanai of the new hotel.

Dedication prayers were offered in English and Hawaiian, after which Gov. Quinn commended host W. Dudley Child Jr., the president of Inter-Island Resorts, who then addressed the guests.

Among them was Charles Rice, the previous owner of Kalapaki, who for many years had welcomed friends, family and island leaders into his home above Kalapaki Beach with gracious hospitality.

With him sat his wife, Patricia Rice, his son, Robin Rice, and his daughters, Juliet Wichman and Edith Plews.

Members of Kauai’s old kamaaina families — the Robinsons, Fayes, Knudsens, Wilcoxes, Sloggetts and Danfords were present, as was Mary Cooke, nee Moragne.

Dr. Kuhns, who pioneered modern medicine on Kauai, newspaperman Charlie Fern, long-time Kauai banker Frank Crawford, and Inter-Island Resorts founder Walter D. Child were also on hand.

One guest dimly recollected being swung up out of a whale boat by a strong Hawaiian sailor into Frank Crawford’s arms on a pre-dawn morning of long ago, when steamers would anchor off Kalapaki and send passengers ashore in whale boats.

A few remembered Kauai’s polo team — Charles, Arthur and Philip Rice, and John Malina — swimming their ponies into Kalapaki Bay to be hoisted aboard a steamer for Honolulu, where they would compete against the Dillinghams and Baldwins.

Others reminisced about how the Robinsons transported their Niihau cattle to Kauai — how herds were lowered into Kalapaki Bay from a cattle boat and swum ashore.

Juliet Wichman noted that “on steamer afternoons, travelers from the other side of Kauai came to our house for tea before they sailed. About 5 o’clock the steamer whistle would blow and then they had to get in the small boats to go out and board.”

In 1986, the Kauai Surf closed to make way for extensive renovations. The Westin replaced it in 1987, and the Marriott took over in 1995.


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