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Times a changin’ in Kaanapali

By Staff | Mar 24, 2016

Cranes and front-end loaders dig in Whalers Village. PHOTO BY NORM BEZANE.

KAANAPALI – If you have not been to Kaanapali, our economic engine, lately, there continue to be big changes.

Whalers Village has been under rehab since late fall, forcing visitors to go through a maze to get to shops. Some structures have been torn down and are being replaced with glitzy shops. One nice change: huge new palm trees in the interior court will provide shade for afternoon events.

In this columnist’s opinion, the shopping center continues to do things that disrespect our unique approach to how things are done. We are not Chicago, where the shopping center owner is based, and have standards not appreciated by Whalers Village owners.

The rehab has been hurting merchants, according to several businesspeople the columnist has talked to, and the center has not given them a break on the very high rents it charges.

The center has also gone sign crazy. It recently put up a sign on a small tree at the entrance to Leilani’s that states: “Do not climb on the tree.” In 14 years, the columnist – who walks by almost every day – has never seen anyone climbing on that tree.

Worse are signs it recently put up on palm trees on the lawn steps from the beach with seven rules of things prohibited. Maui is beautiful in part because we do not allow billboards on roads.

There should be more restraint on the beach path, including resorts who in some cases have adopted the habit of putting up garish promotional signs.

GOOD THINGS ALONG THE BEACH PATH: All is not lost. The Kaanapali Beach Resort Association slogan, “Where the world comes to play,” is more accurate than ever before. Changes have been gradual, but now what you can see and do is quite different than years past.

You can sit on lavender or pink picnic tables and enjoy shave ice, sip coffee and read the papers at the relatively new Marriott Starbucks with a killer view (whales for the seeing). Visitors can sunbathe on more than 100 lounges on new swatches of grass between the beach path and ocean at five resorts. Few were there a few years ago (the Westin has an area called the “Palm Park”). The Marriott has 41 that get crisp white towels added by attendants each morning,

You can rent paddleboards at three different places that were not around just a few years ago, see fishing taught, or stop by a kiosk not there before and hear about time shares. Look again toward the ocean in the evening, and people (usually women) can gawk at brides no longer married on the beach but under flowered trellises on the green space.

Nearby last week, an area table set with 32 wine glasses and lined with eight large flower bouquets shining in the sun awaited guests. You can see cooks in expanded and remodeled barbecue areas at the Whaler condominium and Kaanapali Alii.

You can watch catamaran rush hour (four now sometimes return to the beach at once) and sunset on many days. Since last December, you can stop by the Hyatt Residences, the first new resort added since the Marriott expansion, with the best bar view of the beach and sea.

And just in case a swimmer gets in trouble in the ocean, a strong swimmer can grab rubber rescue tubes identified with bright yellow flags, put there at the suggestion of environment groups. And you can read new handsome signs that explain about preserving reefs.

Even Hula Grill has changed – you can buy Hula Pie while listening to afternoon or evening music.

Clearly, the world has much more reason to come to play. The beach path comes with and ocean, too.