Herb Coyle most recent job before retirement was as the manager of the Plantation Inn in Lahaina. My wife and I frequently enjoyed listening to him and his wife Dee sing at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel, where they preformed every Sunday for 24 years. Herb’s primary career was as a counselor at Maui Community College (now called University of Hawaii Maui College). I interviewed Herb in February of 2011 at the Plantation Inn. See the complete interview below.
Jon: Are you originally from Maui?
Herb: I was born in 1950 in Ansbach, Germany. My dad, a local boy (Hawaiian, Chinese, English, Irish) from O’ahu, was in the military, stationed in Germany. He married my German mom and then moved all of us to Kane’ohe, O’ahu in 1952. I grew up on the Windward side of O’ahu until 1966. My family moved to Pukalani, Maui while I finished High School at the Kamehameha Schools. Aside from traveling away from Hawaii during my college and military years, Maui has been home. In 2004, Dee and I moved from Pukalani to Ka’anapali and love it.
Jon: What did you do at Maui Community College?
Herb: I was in the Counseling Department and served as the Director for most of my 30 years at the College.
Jon: What did you like at that job?
Herb: I was a product of Maui Community College and enjoyed the privilege of helping adults from my community earn an education and pursue their dreams. The faculty and staff were the most dedicated group of people providing the highest quality education to all learners.
Jon: What years did you and Dee sing at Kaanapali Beach Hotel on Sundays?
Herb: We sang at the Sunday Brunch there from 1983 to 2007.
Jon: What does Dee still do at that hotel?
Herb: She is the Director of Training. She provides training for the employees.
Jon: What did you like about singing there?
Herb: Dee and I are proud of our Hawaiian heritage. I love Hawaiian music. From the beginning, Dee and I discovered that our singing together was something special and we wondered what it would be like to perform publicly together. So, finding a venue like Ka’anapali Beach Hotel to perform at was a perfect fit. They are Hawaii’s most Hawaiian hotel and we wanted to share Hawaiian culture through its music. I especially liked connecting with our listeners and enjoyed knowing that people all over the world have come to Hawaii and have been introduced to a bit of our history and culture through our music.
Jon: My wife and I still listen to your Hawaiian music CD frequently. How can people get your songs now?
Herb: We are on iTunes if anyone wants to hear/purchase our one and only album. Polinahe – Herb & Dee Coyle.
Jon: What other jobs have you done on Maui?
Herb: In my youth I have worked in the pineapple fields of upcountry Maui, done construction work in Honolulu, was a busboy at the Maui Palms hotel in Kahului, tried being an equipment installer for the Hawaiian Telephone Company with my dad on Maui and learned to be a radar repairman in the Air Force. My telephone company experience was what motivated me to go to college and pursue a different career.
Jon: Why did you start working at the Plantation Inn a couple years ago?
Herb: After retiring from the college and doing nothing for a year, I entered the visitor industry by becoming the manager of The Plantation Inn, in the heart of Lahaina town. During that one year of “unemployment,” I enjoyed golfing, riding my motorcycle and discovered I could learn to cook (my favorite recipes are from Giada de Larentiis). One day, Dee came home and asked me to help out at the Inn because someone was going on maternity leave and they needed a part-time Front Desk person. After much deliberation, I agreed and the rest is history.
Jon: What is good about staying as a guest at Plantation Inn?
Herb: The Inn is an oasis. As an adult preferred property, it is peaceful, quiet and serene as one might imagine being out in the country and yet, it is a convenient 200 steps from Front Street, the heart of Lahaina town. We have 19 rooms with a swimming pool and heated Jacuzzi and offer free parking to our guests. Our complimentary breakfast is exceptional. Chef Gerard Riversade has been running his restaurant in the front of our property for 28 years and provides a select breakfast menu for our guests served poolside.
Jon: Do you get residents as well as tourists staying there?
Herb: Absolutely. From Lahaina and other west side folks that want a special treat, to those visiting from far away places like upcountry Maui. Also, from our Lana’i and Moloka’i to all neighbor islands, we can provide the convenient weekend get-a-way for residents throughout the state. Our distant travelers include many international visitors from around the world (England, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Japan, New Zealand and Australia) as well as Canada and every state in the United States.
Jon: Why do people like to stay at the Plantation Inn in the middle of Lahaina instead of on a beach?
Herb: I think the Inn’s travelers are looking for a smaller and more intimate location to stay at. They know what they are looking for and consciously choose us versus a larger hotel. In addition, many of our guests are interested in the convenience of being walking distance to and from everything the town of Lahaina has to offer. Seasoned travelers know that it doesn’t take much to drive to the beaches on Maui … after all, they surround us and are easy to find.
Jon: What changes have you made as manager of Plantation Inn?
Herb: I’ve been given the opportunity to upgrade the property in many ways. From hiring a grounds person that truly cares about and knows how to make plants thrive and flowers bloom to begin completely renovating rooms to reflect a more Hawaiian plantation era décor. I am very serious about wanting our guests to know that they are here in Hawaii and I hope I can do this by creating an environment that reflects Hawaii during the plantation era. We’ve begun this by researching what a typical home during this period might look like and then build on that. Several rooms have already been transformed and the feedback from our guests have been very positive.
Jon: What do you like about working at that Inn?
Herb: The staff, the guests, the location. What a privilege.
Jon: Is this the only B&B in Lahaina?
Herb: No, there are several B&B’s in town. Most are smaller properties that are typical B&B’s with 4 or 5 rooms. Ours is a little larger and could probably be more accurately described as a small Inn.
Jon: How is Plantation Inn different from other B&B’s in Lahaina or other places on Maui?
Herb: We are more centrally located in town than other properties. Also, we provide free parking and have a swimming pool and heated Jacuzzi. We serve a sit down breakfast poolside. All rooms are air-conditioned with most rooms fitted with a 32 inch flat screen TV. Gerard’s Restaurant, an award winning restaurant, is located on our property.
Jon: What else would you like to tell us about yourself?
Herb: Love to play golf in my spare time … and … love to travel, especially to Europe. Dee and I have visited Italy and Germany more than a couple of times and love it! Can’t wait to return there again to explore new places.
Jon: What else would you like to tell us about Plantation Inn?
Herb: Try us … you’ll like us!