Hualalai’s individual communities each possess unique character and ambiance, all offering spectacular vistas and cooling tradewinds.
By Camilla McLaughlin
All photos courtesy Hualalai
An old Hawaiian saying is, “You don’t choose the island, the island chooses you.” After a recent visit to Hualalai on the island of Hawaii, I left completely smitten by the magic of the place, and in my wildest dreams I tend to think maybe I am one of the chosen.
It doesn’t take long to fall under the spell. Arrive at Hualalai and you’re greeted with a mai tai and a lei. Check-in takes place in a comfortable open-air space with the ocean shimmering under the moonlight in the distance. In a region awash with five-star properties, Hualalai is a standout, and what makes it so exceptional is passion — passion for the property paired with a reverence for the land and the Hawaiian culture that is shared by everyone who works there. It permeates every aspect of the resort from architecture to food to the Alaka‘ i Nalu, explorers of the waves. Very few places are able to orchestrate such a fine balance between authenticity, a connection to the land and a superlative guest experience.
During a recent visit, anticipation of an annual food and wine celebration with visiting celebrity chefs, was full on. An herb garden was being readied for a pop-up cooking academy. Chefs worked with David Choi, director of natural resources, to gather salt from a nearby stretch of beach. Also at the ready was a stock of oysters grown onsite in a lake fed by a subterranean aquifer and drawn through lava wells, only one of a couple sites verified by the state for this cultivation. These oysters are only available to residents and guests at the resort.
In addition to a Four Season’s resort, Hualalai includes residences ranging from villas to custom homes. Outdoor shower gardens, walls that disappear to open homes to the tradewinds, and designs that uniquely align with today’s lifestyle preferences are hallmarks, as are views of distant mountains and Maui. Almost everywhere, the ocean forms a backdrop thanks to changing elevations. Owners have extensive private amenities, including a clubhouse and restaurants. One of the resort’s two golf courses is private. Also reserved for residents is a beachfront restaurant, a prime place for dinner and sunset cocktails. Chefs at all the restaurants are masters at coaxing the best from the local bounty.
Rather than buildings, the most prominent feature here is the landscape — miles of coastline and lava rocks, an iconic signature of the island. The grounds are extensive with pathways that meander past low-slung bungalows embraced by a jungle landscape. Locals like to say the resort sits lightly on the land, and that’s only possible when development is guided by a commitment to stewardship.