Kamuela Inn News
There’s really no place like Kamuela and Waimea on the Big Island of Hawaii. Once home to the largest cattle ranch in the USA and still the fifth largest – this town is famous for rodeos, tropical fruit, and horseback riding.
Sadly, because we were traveling in a time of travel lockdown amidst the Covid-19 pandemic and a hurricane threatening – much of Waimea was either shut down or inaccessible to us – but having been there before, I can tell you three things that I love about the town – it’s an artsy little community, it has multiple amazing farmers markets, and the Parker Ranch is a must see.
On this trip, I discovered a fourth thing I love in Waimea – The Kamuela Inn. As their website says Upcountry Hospitality and Timeless Charm. It’s not just a couple of phrases. They live it. I’d also add that there is a level of comfort and luxury that is missing from nearly all hotels and inns these days. Here’s one example – the bedding.
My wife and I have stayed in a lot of hotels all over the world. Never in all the years we have travelled together have we ever looked to find the tags on the sheets and pillows – until this trip! These were the most comfortable sheets and pillows either of us had ever slept on and when we found the tags and looked to acquire some for ourselves – we discovered why – the sheets, duvet, and pillows on our king size bed added up to nearly $1000! I’m not talking about the bed here – I’m talking about the sheets, pillows and blankets on the bed.
That wasn’t the only detail. The shower was magnificent and the overall design of western wood design, and luxury western decor really worked. There are multiple outdoor areas where guests can lounge or even barbecue. Unfortunately, as mentioned these were secured because of the pending hurricane while we were there.
Our room was outfitted with a kitchenette where we were able to cook for ourselves and the breakfast in the morning was very generous. Due to the pandemic the regular breakfast buffet was shut down but the staff has adapted to the situation by giving guests the chance to order breakfast the night before with generous portions of hot local breakfast (Portuguese sausage, eggs, and rice), cereal, yogurt, bagels, juice, and coffee.
Kamuela Inn is close to parks and shopping centers and when there isn’t a pandemic, one of Hawaii’s best restaurants Merriman’s is right next door. Our favorite restaurant in Waimea though is Dan-0’s Doner. We lived in Turkey and love a good doner. This is the German style served in bread with a variety of sauces and the best falafel that either my wife or I have ever tasted. Their fries too are amazing!
Edlyn, the manager of the Kamuela Inn was an amazing source for information while we were there. She and the staff were incredibly approachable and informative. Since the ranch activities we had been planning on were closed she let us know about some of the locals only deals going on – one of which fulfilled a dream for both my wife and daughter. That was our trip over to Dolphin Quest. Due to the pandemic – there was a significant discount offered to Hawaii residents. It was a great suggestion and since it was on the dry side of the island – it was open even with the hurricane approaching.
Some of the best reasons for visiting Waimea (Kamuela) are to explore the restaurants, shops, and galleries – this unfortunately was something we weren’t able to do this time – but we did make it out to a couple of the farmers markets where I bought some special Big Island treats. Not just the heavenly mangoes and papaya but also very reasonably priced and perfectly roasted coffees from Makua Coffees, our favorite amazing mamaki tea from Waimea Herb Company, and some really great beef jerky that I forgot the name of and will have to go back for!
There are multiple farmer’s markets in Waimea. Go to LoveBigIsland.com where they have detailed each of them and where I lifted the names and dates from below.
- The Waimea Town market, open Saturday between 7:30 a.m. and noon.
- The Waimea Homestead farmers market, open Saturday between 7 a.m. and noon.
- The Waimea mid-week market, open Wednesday between 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 pm.
- The Kamuela Farmers Market, open Saturday between 7:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.
- You can also buy farm-fresh produce at the Kekela farm market.
So, even though there was a hurricane threatening, a pandemic raging, and we even had a 4.8 earthquake one morning, we really enjoyed our trip to the Big Island. I would say most of that was because of Kamuela Inn and our new friend Edlyn. We will be back! Thank you for making us part of your Ohana!
Kamuela Inn 65-1300 Kawaihae Rd,
Kamuela, HI 96743
We are honored to be the recipient two years in a row for TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence. Here is one of our recent reviews:
Reviewed by alseven37
May 13, 2019
Kamuela Inn , Waimea ..Big Island , HI.
Staff, Service and management truly outstanding!!! Breakfast food and presentation was excellent. Recommend very highly. Management and Staff are very welcoming and pleasant. Location is central to many sightseeing places.
To read more reviews or leave a review please visit our TripAdvisor profile.
Tim Bostock and Melanie Holt had owned a series of rental properties over the years but had never fully emerged themselves in the hospitality industry.
Then, while exploring the northern upcountry area around Waimea on Hawaii Island, the husband-and-wife team discovered the Kamuela Inn. The 30-room property had been neglected for years, but Bostock and Holt saw an opportunity. By June 2015 they were owners of their first hotel.
“When we bought it, the place was run down,” said Holt, who is also the owner-operator of The Real Farm, a sustainable organic farm on the island. “We had been buying distressed properties, just rentals, not hotels or B&Bs or anything like that. We saw the potential here.”
Now, three years into their first hospitality venture, they have completed extensive renovations on many of the rooms, freshened up the property and have plans for further improvements in the next 18 months.
The Kamuela Inn is located near the heart of Waimea, with easy access to popular cafes and restaurants. It is on Kawaihae Road, but set back from the roadside behind some commercial businesses and a private residence, providing a sound barrier from any traffic. The hotel was first established in 1961 by Muneo and Yukio Sameshima, and Yukio still lives on the property next door.
“She’s a sweet old lady, and we check in on her here and there,” Holt said.
The renovations were done in a “chic paniolo,” or Hawaiian cowboy, style, Holt said, a nod to the area’s history as a major cattle producer. There are rustic touches like exposed beams, sliding wooden bathroom doors and ceiling fans. The cozy rooms come with WiFi and cable TV, and a free continental breakfast featuring locally made pastries, fresh fruit, yogurt, cereals, tea, coffee and juice. The rooms also feature different art from Hawaiian artists and are stocked with botanical and fruit-based toiletries made locally.
The inn offers a variety of accommodations (starting at $129 per night), including standard rooms, larger suites, and rooms with kitchenettes. The two executive suites are spacious, and boast full kitchens and dining areas. The largest is more than 800 square feet with bunk beds and a king-size bed in a separate room. The inn also offers washers and dryers for guest use.
“We get a lot of bikers who like this area and stay here, and the laundry facilities are a big plus for them,” Holt said.
The typical clientele includes local families, small convention groups, outdoors-oriented travelers, and a good flow of European, Australian and Canadian guests, according to Holt.
Other renovations included new roofs, plumbing, electric and water heaters, and repair to long-term damage. Some rooms remain to be renovated, with all of the work scheduled to be completed by the end of 2019, Holt said.
Additionally, Holt has a vision for turning a weathered and worn wooden tea house behind the main building restored so it can host local art exhibitions, which is how it was originally used by the Sameshima family. They also have plans to enlarge the breakfast dining area and configure it for more natural sunlight and to add a meeting space.
“We are just getting started with weddings, and this is a nice spot for small reunions,” Holt said. “And, I think we attract people who are trying to get away from the resort atmosphere.”
Download the full article: Rustic restorations at Kamuela Inn [pdf]
The Kamuela Inn is a charming 30-room boutique hotel. It is centrally located in Waimea, set back from Kawaihae Road, in a relaxing and peaceful location.
The new owners, Tim Bostock and Melanie Holt purchased the property two years ago and have been undergoing a series of upgrades and renovations. They have incorporated the paniolo (cowboy) style of Waimea and used contemporary touches such as art by local artists, barn doors, and exposed wood features. The Kamuela Inn includes many different types of rooms. Some have a fully-equipped kitchen or kitchenette, two are executive suites, plus there are deluxe, standard and ADA accessible rooms. Each room is very comfortable, with all rooms having new beds and linens. Prices for all rooms include a continental breakfast, free parking, and WiFi. Coin operated laundry facilities are also available.
Mel and Tim had never worked in the hospitality industry before, but both share a love of travel and feel strongly about the beauty and people of Waimea. “We feel that travelers to this part of the island are looking for a deeper connection to the island than a resort can offer.” Their usual guests include local families, alumni, small convention groups, and active travelers such as cyclists or hunters. The Kamuela Inn is also very popular among Australian and European guests.
The main challenge of the inn has been trying to run it as “business as usual” during the upgrades. It is always their goal to make sure that guests have a relaxing and comfortable stay during their visit. Their greatest asset is their staff, particularly their innkeeper Edlyn Carvalho who goes above and beyond to make sure everything runs smoothly.
“We are blessed to have such a hard-working and honest staff who know the town and are happy to share their aloha and knowledge with the guests,” said Melanie.
The Kamuela Inn is especially suitable for weddings and parties. Large groups can rent out the entire facility and there is room on the newly improved front lawn for a large tent.
In the future, Melanie and Tim plan to create a library, large meeting room, commercial kitchen, and bar. While there may be other places to stay in Waimea, none have the appeal of the quaint Kamuela Inn. They also offer a discount to Ke Ola Magazine readers—enter KEOLA when you book your reservation!
As featured on westhawaiitoday.com
By Landry Fuller Special to West Hawaii Today | Wednesday, December 7, 2016
WAIMEA — Tucked behind a storefront, quietly hidden from Kawaihae Road, sits Kamuela Inn. The historic property, positioned on nearly two acres, opened in the early 1960s but lost its luster over the last decade. New local owners, Melinda Holt and Tim Bostock, came to the rescue last year with a vision and an eye for design. Renovations are now underway, bringing a refreshing, clean, modern look to the inn.
With no real experience in the hospitality industry, Holt and Bostock have been quick learners, relying on the expertise of a variety of local talents to help restore and upgrade the inn, as well as operate it at a new level.
“I had always toyed with the idea of owning a nice boutique hotel one day,” Holt said. “I thought it would be so good for this town to have a lovely place for people to stay and I love transformation. It’s been tremendously rewarding because the people we’ve worked with so far have been so talented.”
Handmade by their local chief carpenter, Kina’u Puhi, horseshoes are a signature design element consistent throughout the property, used for everything from towel racks in the guestrooms to accent pieces in public areas.
Within the 12 renovated guestrooms, a “chic paniolo” feel comes from barn doors used as bathroom or bedroom doors. The showers have been expanded and redesigned with stylish granite and stone, also used on the bathrooms counters. A different piece of original art from Holt’s personal collection decorates the walls of each guestroom, while a bold accent color gives them each their own personality. Cork tile has been added to the floor “because it’s so clean, sustainable, warm and soft on your feet,” she said.
The remaining 19 guestrooms plan to be restored next spring. In the meantime, all have new beds, sheets and pillows made of island fabrics from Sig Zane Designs in Hilo. Locally sourced Ola bath products are also in-room for guest use.
“We had all of our bed skirts, pillows and things locally sewn by Cynthia Spencer,” Holt said.
Accommodation options include one-bedroom units, kitchenettes, kitchens and penthouses that range from 168-384 square feet. Two executive suites are close to 1,000 square feet each, comfortable for 4-6 guests. Perks in all guestrooms include new flat-screen cable TVs and free Wi-Fi. Parking is also free and guest laundry is available.
Room rates begin at a mere $89 per night, depending on the season, and complimentary upgrades are possible when available.
At the new front desk, walls are covered with recycled wood pallets found at Waimea Feed Supply and other places around town. The dining room has been redesigned with reclaimed wood and hanging glass light fixtures. Large scenic photos by local photographer Anianiku Chong add a splash of color to the room. Guests stop by throughout the morning at leisure to sample locally baked pastries with flavored homemade butter, cereal, fruit, coffee, tea and juice as part of the free continental breakfast.
“I think the interior design is very contemporary but paniolo, and very clean and colorful. We used as many sustainable things as possible,” Holt said.
On the exterior, one of the two wings has been painted in colors reminiscent of the Hawaiian flag, which serve as a preview of what the entire property will look like when the renovation is completed.
“I came up with the colors largely with my friend John Staub, an interior designer from Philpotts,” Holt said. “We had some fun with paint swatches. I love the colors. I think they’re great.”
Other renovations include new roofs, plumbing, electric and water heaters, and repair to long-term damage. On Sept. 1 the entire property became smoke-free.
To run the inn, Holt and Bostock initially considered hiring an outside management company, but learned a lot by reviewing proposals.
“Mostly we learned what we didn’t like about them,” Bostock said. “They didn’t have the heart for it, or a heart for this town. A place like this shouldn’t be a cookie-cutter experience. It should be something really unique, like staying at your favorite auntie’s on the Big Island,” Holt added.
A traditional Japanese tea house sits in the backyard, a part of the property’s history. The inn’s original owner, Yukio Sameshima, still lives next door.
“I check on her. She’s so cute and still drives in her 90s,” said Edlyn Carvalho, who has worked her way up the ladder from housekeeper to personal assistant to property innkeeper and manager. “She brings me flowers and avocados.”
The inn’s employees keep everything running smoothly.
“I feel like the staff we have here couldn’t possibly work harder than they do,” Holt said. “They’re cheerful, enthusiastic and they want to make it succeed.”
The overall goal over the last year has been to create an upmarket boutique hotel that’s a destination, while still accommodating for local families.
“We’d like to see it used more by eco-tourists, family reunions and alumni groups,” Holt said. “By the time we get finished with the renovation, it’s going to be very special.”