Hello Friends and Family,

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Kapalua Bay Hotel and Visit to Lana‘i

The Kapalua Bay hotel has been a fixture on Maui since 1979 when it was build as a Rockresort (as in Rockefeller, for the rich and famous). Quoting from their website, “Welcome to the luxurious Kapalua Bay Hotel. Perched above beautiful Kapalua Bay, "America's Best Beach" - the award-winning resort is known for its gracious Hawaiian hospitality, understated elegance and intimate ambiance in a magnificent oceanfront setting. Designed to reflect the classic style of Maui's plantation era, the hotel's three low-rise wings follow the scalloped coastline, gently descending to the sea. One wing stretches toward the island of Moloka‘i, one toward the island of Lana‘i, the third toward Haleakala, Maui's 10,000-foot dormant volcano.”

Sadly, Maui Land and Pineapple has decided to tear down the hotel and replace it with The Residences at Kapalua.  This development will consist of 11 buildings of up to six stories, 90 units of 2- and 3-bedroom condos plus 65 timeshare units.  Prices for the former are $3.5M to $4.0M and I’m told the latter will run $1M per month.

For those of us who have been coming to Maui for many years, it is quite sad to see this fine hotel torn down.  I am also saddened because my good friends Vince and Gigi were married here and will not be able to retrace their steps with fond remembrance.  But as ML&P said, the company was not making enough money and something had to be done.  Sound familiar?

On Tuesday I took the boat over to visit friends on Lana‘i.  As you may or may not know, Lana‘i was formerly "The Pineapple Isle" because it was almost entirely a pineapple plantation.  This was the source of the tastiest pineapples I’ve ever eaten. 

However, Castle & Cooke (parent company of Dole Pineapple) decided that they could grow pineapples more cheaply elsewhere (low cost over quality — also sound familiar?).  Fortunately, they did take into consideration that the residents of Lana‘i would have no other source of employment once the pineapples were phased out.  Therefore they built two luxury hotels — Manele Bay Hotel at Hulopo'e Beach (pictured to the left) — and the Lodge at Koele at the edge of Lana‘i City — to provide replacement employment.  These two hotels are currently being renovated as the management is being turned over to Four Seasons.

Even with these changes, a trip to Lana‘i is like going back in time — perhaps to what Hawaii was like in the early 1900’s.  There are few paved roads, mainly those between Manele Bay and Lana‘i City (with a population of just over 3,000 people, it’s hard to call it a city).  There are still the remains of the pineapple roads, mostly red dirt (or red mud) that require the use of a 4WD vehicle, but which allow you to explore the whole island.  There is lots of beautiful scenery everywhere, very little obscured by man-made obstructions.  Warm tropical beaches and cool pastoral fields (some even complete with horses) and pleasant pine forests.

My favorite place to stay is not the luxury hotels but Hotel Lana‘i.  Built in 1923, these were guest rooms for visitors to the pineapple plantation.  They have been refurbished and upgraded to provide comfortable accommodations.  But the best news is that the owner is Henry Clay, a very talented chef who provides the most wonderful dinners on the entire island of Lana‘i.

If you ever plan a trip to Hawaii for a very special occasion (such as a big anniversary), seriously consider spending a few nights on Lana‘i.  Life seems so easy there and your cares just float away.  I guess that’s why my friends love their island home.

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com