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Our Kauai Hotel History Celebrates Over 100 Years of Island Hospitality

Step back in time to the Hawaii of yesterday. Set on three tropical acres at the end of Nawiliwili Bay, this plantation Inn was the first on Kaua'i and retains an old Hawaiian charm. The Kaua'i Inn was the first hotel on Kaua'i, when John Wayne and the cast of Donovan's Reef relaxed poolside talking with guests.
 
Our Kaua'i Inn story begins in 1890 when it opened as the Fairview Hotel. Before, travelers stayed with residents. The Fairview became the Lihue Hotel in 1925, and in 1935 became the Kaua'i Inn with a total rebuild of new rooms, pool and a restaurant by the new owner, Matson Navigation. Reservations were by mail or overseas cable. Marketing was tough, so in the 1950's, a luau was hosted for 150 travel agents. At that time a room with all meals was $5 a day! The Inn was the place for beauty pageants, high school proms and special dining.
 
The Kaua'i Inn was moved to Kalapaki Beach in the sixties. In 1991 it underwent a three million dollar renovation only to be hit by Hurricane Iniki's winds of up to 225 mph! Soon after, the McKnight family found themselves purchasing the hotel with no roofs. After years and just a few workers, the McKnights moved buildings, refurbished wood floors and brought the Historic Kaua'i Inn back to life. At most times the work crew was no more than one or two hired workers along with the McKnight family of five, Tom and Jami with children Tony, Aaron, and Megan.
 
The Inn today is still family run and owned. All guest rooms have a microwave, refrigerator, 27" flat screen TV, air conditioning and include a continental breakfast. Every guest is special to these fourth generation hospitality owners and more than likely a family member checked you in or took your reservation.
 

Moments in History

 
The Kauai Inn Lihue, History
1890
 
Newspaper article stating that the original Kaua'i Inn called the Fairview Hotel at the time opened in 1890 and was ran by a Mr. Spitz. Before the hotel was built travelers relied on the hospitality of Kaua'i residents. It later became known as the Lihue Hotel.
The Kauai Inn Lihue, History
1925
 
In 1925 the Lihue Hotel, originally known as the Fairview Hotel, opened.
The Kauai Inn Lihue, History
1935
 
An overview of the Kaua'i Inn's tropical gardens and scenery with pool side lanai.
The Kauai Inn Lihue, History
1940
 
During this time reservations could only be made by mail or overseas cable.
The Kauai Inn Lihue, History
1950
 
A luau held for 150 travel agents hosted by the Kaua'i Inn, which offered a room with all meals for $5 a day.  This Hawaiian extravaganza was held in the Kaua'i Inn pool area with blossoms floating on the water's surface.
 
 
The Kauai Inn Lihue, History
1950
 
The Gift Lanai at the Kaua'i Inn featuring an ad of the latest trends during the 1950s. The advertisement included bathing suits for $6.95 and sundresses at $4.95.
The Kauai Inn Lihue, History
1956
 
The Miss Kauai Contest was held at the Kaua'i Inn's pool lanai area and at the Kaua'i High School gym. Pictured here are contestants from the Miss Kauai Contest before meeting with judges for a personality contest.
The Kauai Inn Lihue, History
1991
 
In 1991 the Kaua'i Inn was finally finished after nearly 3 million dollars was invested in years of renovations. The new pool, refinished landscape, and remodeled buildings helped to enhance the Kaua'i Inn's tropical atmosphere.
 
 
The Kauai Inn Lihue, History
1991
 
An advertisement for room specials at the Kaua'i Inn starting at $69 and for $10 more you can receive a rental car. Since then prices have defiantly gone up for both rooms and rental cars in Hawaii.
The Kauai Inn Lihue, History
1992
 
Here is a magazine article discussing the newly done Kaua'i Inn with all of its modern amenities at the time.
 
 
The Kauai Inn Lihue, History
1992
Almost a year after renovations Kaua'i was hit by possibly one of the worst hurricanes of its history. Hurricane Iniki reported winds up to 225 miles/hour atop Kokee. Owners of the Kauai Inn were devastated by the disaster.  Soon after Tom and Jami McKnight found themselves owners of the hotel which didn't even have a roof at the time.
 
The Kauai Inn Lihue, History
1993
 
Immediately the new owners, the McKnight family, went to work on the Kaua'i Inn. Buildings were moved further apart to take advantage of the 3 acres. New foundations were poured of concrete while plastic tarps served as temporary roofs until time allowed for the construction of new ones.
The Kauai Inn Lihue, History
1994
 
Heavy machinery was purchased to help aid in the massive construction of new roofs, landscape, plumbing, and electrical.
The Kauai Inn Lihue, History
1995
 
Eldest son Tony McKnight replaces old walls with new ones aided by the assistance of some hired help. At most times the crew was no more than one or two hired workers along with the McKnight family of five, Tom and Jami with children Tony, Aaron, and Megan (probably why it took 10 years to complete).
The Kauai Inn Lihue, History
1997
 
Some things never change . . . the wood floors were kept and refinished along with the redwood trim and crown molding which was recycled and refinished displaying the Kaua'i Inn's depth in history.
The Kauai Inn Lihue, History
2001
 
Nearly a decade later, the Kaua'i Inn opens 24 of its 48 units.
 
The Garden Isle Newspaper does an article on the significance of the rebirth of the Kaua'i Inn.
The Kauai Inn Lihue, History
2003
 
Over a decade later, the Kaua'i Inn is fully functioning.  At almost anytime or day you can stop by and talk with family members that struggled for over 10 years to put the historic Kaua'i Inn back together, most likely they checked you into your room!