After hearing so many great things about Cook's Discoveries Waimea Suite (in Frommer's and The Lonely Planet, in various news articles, and online) I was anxious to book it for the the second half of our stay on the Big Island. Much to my surprise, it was actually somewhat of a disappointment.
First, let me say that the owner, Patti Cook, was kind enough to meet us in the evening after we'd spent a long day traveling from Kona.
This, during a time that I know she was very busy with the Christmas parade and other activities. Yet she offered (and we accepted) to do a load of laundry for us that evening, and it was ready and warm the next morning. So there is no doubt that Patti knows how to be a good host.
Second, she employed exquisite taste in decorating the Waimea Suite. It has a modern, yet vintage-y feel to it, and there are all kinds of cool books all over the place.
However, the two things that really spoiled our stay there were 1) the overpowering smell of varnish or mothballs or something really unpleasant; and 2) the 4" winged cockroaches (plural) that lurked in the kitchen and bathroom.
Specifically: when we first entered the Waimea Suite, my family and I were totally overwhelmed by a really strong chemical-ish smell. We couldn't figure out whether it was varnish or mothballs or what, but we could not stay in the place with the windows closed--it was that bad.
To make it worse, Patti had asked us, quite reasonably, to close up all doors and windows every time we went out...but this served to trap the smell and gag us every time we re-entered. It was so bad that we kept the windows open whenever we were there, and even slept with them open through rain and wind and cold air. We found it odd that no reviews made note of this undeniably putrid smell, and Patti acted like she didn't notice it either.
As to the winged beasts, all I can say is "gross!!!" Actually, I have more to say. When we first arrived, Patti was showing us around the kitchen when a four inch cockroach crawled out of a cabinet. My 5 yr.
old, in her 5-yr.-old way, said, "excuse me Patti, but a huge cockroach just crawled out," and Patti responded by saying something dismissive like, "really? i didn't see it," and moved on. But I saw it, my daughter saw it, and every night we were there we saw two or three big old winged cockroaches. One even managed to get on me and flickered its filthy wings when I flicked it onto the floor. I can still recall the spine-tingling sound. Again, "gross!!"
Although the Waimea Suite boasts a "fully stocked kitchen", the last place we wanted to be was in that roach haven (so we ate out a lot).
Now, I realize that these big creatures live on the Big Island, and that is not Patti's fault. What bothered me was that Patti acted as if she had no knowledge of cockroaches in her place. At the very least, she might have a sign or something to encourage her guests to be sure not to leave dishes in the sink and to wipe all counters after preparing food. This would at least acknowledge there is a problem and suggest a way to help prevent it. Instead, she just sort of dismissed it.
Enjoying Hawaii is largely a sensory experience (sight, smells, etc) that when one has negative sensory experiences, it tends to ruin the positive as well. Unfortunately, both the smell and the cockroaches at the Waimea Suite made such a strong sensory impression on me and my family that we now refer to the Waimea Suite as the "roach motel." And we vow never to return.
Those were the two main negatives about the place that really killed it for us. However, there were little things, too. For example, we had read that Patti was so overly friendly and accomodating. This seemed to be a consistent theme in the visitor book and the reviews I mentioned earlier. However, maybe it was her busy schedule, but we actually found her to be a little stand-offish. In fact, we had read that anyone who books with her directly gets a $20 coupon to use at her store. After she failed to offer this to us, my husband went to her store to ask her about it (and of course she obliged).
Relatedly, I had trouble even booking the reservation with her. She had claimed to send email (but I never received it); when I called and she said she'd call back, she never did--I had to call her again. I should have taken this as a cue to book elsewhere, but I had read such raves about the place and I was determined to stay there. Never again. Never again...