History of Kauikeolani

Emma Kauikeolani was known for her gracious hospitality, sumtuous parties and caring nature. Today, the home, which is named for her, is a gracious and enduring host with a legacy of luxury and home to the lucky few who have discoverd its graces. Here is a brief history of the wilcox family and the Estate...

At Hanalei, Albert Spencer Wilcox found the inspiration to build his life around the Kauikeolani Estate. Born the fourth son in a Protestant missionary family of eight boys, Albert grew up surrounded by the enchantments of 19th century Kauai. His parents, Abner and Lucy Wilcox, forsook all that was familiar to them when they stepped on to the sailing ship Bark Mary Frazier, and took to sea in 1836, the eastern seaboard falling forever behind the wake of their dreams. Their passage took them from Boston to Honolulu, 116 days around Cape Horn, crossing the boundaries that separated Hawaii from the rest of the world. On these distant islands, they found not only a calling for their church, but also landscapes of unimaginable beauty and a native Polynesian people in transition, intact in culture and rich with intrigue awaiting the Wilcox’s in their new home.

For young Albert Wilcox this world would grow with him, becoming his own. A mystical web spun in the opposing fabrics of missionary virtue and ancient Hawaiian tradition. As one the first generation of foreigners to be born on Hawaiian soil, he and his brothers grew up weaving an enduring Hawaiian lifestyle that is unique even today.

The passing of the seasons and the turning of the years brought new changes and unseen ambitions to Hawaii. Growing from a child into a man, Albert was said to have become an industrious and likable character, eventually finding his success as a sugar planter around the turn of the century. The North Shore of Kauai had always been his home, and as his business interests grew so did his land holdings in Hanalei, his birthplace, and the place closest to his heart.

In 1898 Albert married, taking Emma Kauikeolani Napoleon Mahelona as his wife. He adopted her children, and eventually her namesake to become that of his estate. The Hawaiian language is imbued with double meaning; Kauikeolani is “a beautiful vision that comes in the early morning mist,” and embodies both the gracious Emma and the landscape that greets you from Kauikeolani as you awake.

Finally and most fundamentally, Patsy states that Kauikeolani is a place to slow down and to discover your own relaxed spirit, remembering, all the while, that it is just, “a little part of a little island, in the middle of the Pacific.”

Kauikeolani Porch

Kauikeolani at night.

Albert Wilcox

Albert Wilcox

Emma (Kauikeolani) Wilcox

Emma (Kauikeolani) Wilcox


Doorway to the past