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Kaua'i Surf Resort, Nawiliwili:
There is the ghost of a lady who choked to death in the ladies room around 1977. She haunts the area. Recorded by Gordines, Fall .77 class. Informant was Gilbert Serrato.
People believed the reason for the hauntings was that the hotel was constructed on a grave or graves. Bones were found when constructing the swimming pool .Recorded by Gordines, Fall 77 class. Informant was Gilbert Serrato
A person was working in a private room to store wine glasses. The chairs in the room kept moving in front of him and the lights went out. The door also closed on him. He left the room quickly. Recorded by Gordines, Fall 77 class . Informant was Gilbert Serrato.
The breakfast cook came in early one morning. Only he and his helper were there. A lady came in through the back door and disappears. He didn't think much about it. He began to wipe his face with a towel and found that the towel was covered with blood. His face was cut in several places but didn't know how it happened. Recorded by Giordins, Fall 77 class. Informant was Gilbert Serrato.
Hale Nani, Koloa
When Hurricane Iwa's shrieking winds and thunderous surf got done battering Kaua'i's south shore, 4 miles of Po'ipu coastline lay in ruin. Hard hit was a small hotel just west of Koloa Landing, a hotel that for decades had battled the elements. On the night of Nov. 23, 1982, against the full force of Iwa's fury, it finally lost the fight.
For those who had purchased the hotel's 80 rooms during a condominium conversion, the hurricane represented a $2.8 million loss; only a fraction was ever repaid by insurance. For others, those who believed the eerie stories about ancient Hawaiian bones having been ground up into the hotel's foundation, Iwa's destruction was expected, perhaps even justified.
Information about the hotel's earliest days exist only in the memories of the island's kama'aina-county planners have been unable to locate any files on its initial construction. Many people recall that the hotel was built by Mainland contractors in the late '50s or early ';60s. During its 20-odd years of existence, the hotel had many owners and many names: the Hale Nani, Sheraton Seven Seas, Ponderosa of Kaua'i, Hale Nani again, then finally Po'ipu Village Resort. From the beginning it was one of those places that attract rumors like guava do fruit flies, and there was always talk on the south side about the Hale nani. Most of it was about ghosts.
Many locals believe the hotel was doomed from the start. One reason was its location on the flood plain of Waikomo stream. Koloa Realtor Bob Lloyd, who later co-owned a restaurant and disco at the hotel, recalls wading through 3 inches of water in the lobby during one heavy rain, the parquet tiles bobbing like toy ships in the flood. With no reefs protecting the hotel's rocky perch atop Nahuma'alo Point, it was exposed to the ravages of frequent high surf. Waves often crashed over the sea wall and into the pool, and sometimes even flooded first floor rooms. The two-acre site also needed plenty of fill, and boulders were brought in to shore up the place. stormy seas would toss the smaller rocks through hotels windows, or batter the pool and foundation with them. But most people think it was the sand used for the hotel's concrete that provoked the disturbing rumors and brought on its ruin.
Dr. William Kikuchi, a Kaua'i Community College anthropology instructor, one day was doing an archaeological survey on the south side for the Bishop Museum when he was called to the Hale Nani. At the time, the hotel was still under construction. The contractor led him to a small dark room on the bottom floor in which two big plywood boxes sat.
"I looked in them, and they were just filled with skeletons." Kikuchi says. "it was a gruesome sight. It looked like something you'd see in Cambodia, with all the skulls."
Kikuchi discovered the bones had come in with the truckloads of sand from the Keoniloa[sic] sand dunes at Maha'ulepu. The sand had been sifted at the hotel site, and the largest bones removed and thrown into the boxes.
"I told the contractor, 'Your concrete is filled with pieces of human bones,' "Kikuchi recalls:
"There had to be bone chips, bits of finger bones and toe bones and small pieces that fell through the sifter with the sand. All the tiny bones were missing [from the boxes]. That was very disturbing to me. Keoniloa[sic] is a very famous burial ground. There were so many bones in the dunes then you couldn't walk there without hearing crunching sound. They were sticking up out of the sand. They [the contractors] had to know about the bones. An archaeological treasure was lost there, and to the Hawaiians, it was just desecration."
When the contractor asked what should be done, Kikuchi told him to rebury the skeletons in their original resting place at Maha'ulepu [sic].
"Whether they did that, I do not know," Kikuchi says. "Years later, I was told the bones weren't taken back, that they were poured into the concrete walkways around the hotel. But I don't think anybody in their right mind would pour [place] the bodies into the concrete. So the question is, what happened to those bodies ?"
Different people tell different stories. Some think the bones were simply thrown into the sea, but Kikuchi says local fishermen and divers would have noticed all those skeletons. Karon Anglin Hansen, whose father worked for the company that operated the hotel in the mid-1970s, says she was told that racial tensions had flared at the job site, and Filipino workers threw the large bones into the cement mixer to spite the Hawaiian workers. The concrete then was poured in the swimming pool area. The Hawaiians walked off the job in protest, placing curses on their fellow workers.
Hansen and her brother later removed what was reported to be the pool's offending slab and hosted a big lu'au and blessing. That seemed to put a stop to some of the rumors about haunting, she says . (Although the pool was totally demolished in the hurricane, with pieces of it thrown up into the second and third floors of the hotel.)
Hansen says some Ni'ihau residents who had stayed at the Hale Nani on several occasions determined the hotel was not haunted because ti- leaves grew around the hotel and their dogs willingly crossed the threshold. But Hansen's mother, Grace Anglin, recalls that once a painter turned down a lucrative job because his dog refused to come into the hotel.
The stories persisted. Bob Lloyd says reports about night maids and kitchen workers seeing ghosts prompted him and his partners to present a blessing and lavish lu'au before opening their restaurant and disco. Keli'i Aka, one of three kahuna to participate, took a plate full of lu'au food into the storeroom and poured two glasses of vodka and brandy from newly opened bottles. He left everything there and warned that the offering should never be touched or moved.
Lloyd says the restaurant proved to be a great success- until one day the chef decided he'd had enough and threw the offering away. An hour and a half later, the oven blew up in the face of the cook who tried to light it, sending him to the hospital with serious burns. That same night, a waitress slipped on the floor and was knocked unconscious. A few days later, the hotel owners notified Lloyd and his partners that they planned to revoke the restaurant's 20-year lease. A bitter legal battle followed and the restaurant was closed.
"It's an interesting coincidence that things were clear sailing until he [ the chef] did that," Lloyd says.
Greg Solomon says stories about strange occurrences also prompted him to seek the services of a kahuna before opening the Whaler's Cove restaurant (which was ultimately destroyed by Iwa). The kahuna seemed to detect a spiritual presence and blessed the restaurant and its storerooms using special salt from Kaua'i and Moloka'i. He left some salt with Solomon and told him to sprinkle it around once a month while ordering the spirits to leave. He also warned Solomon's superstitious Italian chef to stop leaving food out for the ghosts, saying they would keep coming back as long as they were fed.
"I spent a lot of late nights there and was never really spooked , but I heard a lot of stories," Solomon says. "things would disappear out of rooms and then reappear in the same place a few days later. We had a lot of injuries in the kitchen, too, and our electronic cash registers were always breaking down for no reason. Whenever something happened we blamed it on the ghosts, and I'd get out the salt and sprinkle it around."
After Iwa destroyed the place, Solomon says the remaining concrete foundation was hauled away and used as a fill for a berm along a cane road near Kiahuna. A new condominium project now sits on the site, and sop far it hasn't generated any spooky rumors.
Whether Hale Nani's troubles were caused by faulty design or the angry spirits of displaced skeletons is impossible to say. But Kikuchi feels the stories about the hotel are important and shouldn't be disregarded.
"This is how legends are born. The force of legend shapes human behavior and reinforces certain values. In this case, it the value that says: 'Don't mess around with the dead.'"
The Tale of the Haunted Hotel by Joan Conrow, Honolulu: The Paradise of the Pacific: June 1989. pg. 78,79.