WAIMEA — It doesn’t seem that long ago that Waimea Country Lodge and Paniolo Country Inn had a new owner.
A familiar site in Waimea where Highways 19 and 190 meet, the 21-unit lodge and all-day restaurant were purchased by Dwight Manley, a sports agent and real estate developer from Orange County, California, from the Richard Smart Trust in 2015 for $1.7 million.
Earlier this month, they went back on the market for $2.9 million. The original asking price in 2015 was $2.5 million.
They sit on just over two acres and are listed by Bob Chancer with Mauna Kea Realty, who sold the property to Manley originally.
“It’s not in MLS, so it was selectively marketed beginning several weeks ago,” Chancer said.
The Waimea business is one of three real estate properties Manley has owned on Hawaii Island. A regular visitor for more than two decades, he also purchased a 1.28-acre, raised, ocean view lot in Kaunaoa at Mauna Kea Resort from Men’s Wearhouse founder George Zimmer in 2015. In addition, Manley owned a home at the same resort that he sold recently.
“He lives in California and has spent less time in Hawaii lately and thought the community would be better served if the Waimea business had an owner who could be there,” Chancer said.
Manley had big plans for Waimea Country Lodge and Paniolo Country Inn originally.
“I think there is a big need for quality lodging, both short and long-term, and of course, I want the history and integrity of the Hawaiian roots to remain,” he told a Pacific Business News reporter in October 2015.
As recent as March this year, Travel Weekly reported that Manley intended to “tear down the lodge and build 50 units, each measuring 450 square feet.”
Once a part of historic Parker Ranch, the farm-style lodge first opened in 1976 with additions made in 1985 and 1988. Towards the end of last year, Manley ended a long-term management contract with Castle Resorts &Hotels, and on Jan. 1 brought in his cousin, Keri McQueen, to run the lodge.
“She has turned things around,” Chancer said.
McQueen had been a property manager, primarily for commercial properties, in Orange County. Minor renovations were done at the lodge earlier this year.
“He didn’t pour any major capital into the project, but it’s managed much more efficiently now,” Chancer said
A new wastewater system was added just before Manley bought the property. Travel Weekly reported in March that Manley was working on “getting county approval to connect to a nearby sewer line.”
“He’s gone through preliminary work to connect to the Parker Ranch Center. When he lost interest in being here, that was put on the back burner,” Chancer said. “Someone could resurrect that plan.”
Paniolo Country Inn restaurant was built in 1966 and updated in 1978. It has been a Waimea fixture for more than 50 years. Danny Perreira has managed the casual dining outlet for nearly 25 years. Currently he has a month-to-month lease.
Perreira started working as a cook at Paniolo Country Inn in 1985, attained a lease to manage and operate the restaurant with a partner in 1992 and bought out his partner in 1998. When Manley purchased the property three years ago, the lease was switched to month-to-month.
“I’m cool with the lease but I don’t want to lose my business,” Perreira said. “The owner is a good guy and didn’t bother us at all. He tried to do what he wanted to do, but it didn’t happen. He had big intentions. I seriously wish he could sell it to me on an agreement sale.”
Perreira added that he’s looking for people to help him buy the motel and restaurant.
Nancy Gomes has been a server at Paniolo Country Inn for about 22 years.
“Danny has put a lot of sweat and tears into it,” she said.
Justin Henshaw, a loyal customer, has frequented the restaurant with his family for more than 25 years.
“We’ve been eating here since 1991 or 1992, bringing the kids and coming in for a home-cooked meal,” he said. “We would hope that new owners would maintain the heritage, history and consistency, but it would be nice to have it refreshed.”
Chancer said he’s done several showings of the property since it went back on the market and has one potential buyer. For questions about the property, Bob Chancer or Jake Chancer can be reached at 938-3000.