Carrie Collidge Contributor Travel
Four Seasons Magical Resort Hualalai is a Forbes Five - Star Resort. Where billionaires live alongside millionaires.
One of Earl “Uncle Earl” Regidor’s unofficial duties as Ka`upulehu Cultural Center Manager at the Four Seasons Resort Hualālai is performing a blessing at home sites before ground is broken. Home buyers at the sprawling luxury residential development that surrounds the Four Seasons Resort Hualālai often invite Uncle Earl to perform the ancient blessing to consecrate the land---once the site of an ancient fishing village---before building a new home. The blessing, which is attended by the homeowner’s family and their contractor, consecrates the land out of respect for the Hawaiian people who lived there for centuries before them. “I do the blessing for the sake of asking permission and guidance,” explains Regidor, who performs another blessing once construction is completed in each room (or when an already existing home is purchased).
This rich Hawaiian culture, in addition to a laid-back and relaxing lifestyle, family-oriented community and an extremely friendly staff, plays a large role in enticing people from around the world to invest in a home at Hualālai, the master-planned residential community and private club that is located on exclusive Kona-Kohala coast on the leeward side of Hawai`i Island.
Upon entering the resort, visitors are mesmerized by the beautifully landscaped 865-acre property. The elite, which includes many members of the Forbes 400 and Forbes World's Billionaires lists, come here to decompress, relax and recharge like nowhere else in the world. “The energy here is different than any other place,” says Regidor. “It is soothing and relaxing. You feel it immediately the moment you step on the property.”
At Hualālai, high profile guests, celebrities and homeowners can let their hair down while their children can roam freely throughout the expansive property. There’s no need to be concerned about security in this gated enclave. The crime rate is non-existent while the staff at the private club and the hotel are so discreet that the names of high profile hotel guests and homeowners are rarely mentioned above a whisper. Homeowners and their families are respectfully referred to as “Members” and recognized immediately by staff members, many of whom have worked at the Four Seasons Resort Hualālai for 20 years or longer.
While the rich and famous can afford to own a home (or even a private island) just about anywhere in the world, there are countless reasons why they are drawn to Hualālai. To begin with, the property is pristine with immaculate landscaping, the water is crystal clear, and the Four Seasons-trained staff is beyond compare. It is utterly impossible to pass one of the many staff members while on the property without being greeted with a cheerful “aloha”. And, unlike the Caribbean and Mexico, there’s no risk of contracting the ZIKA virus from menacing mosquitos while the possibility of devastation caused by unpredictable weather is remote---the last tsunami in 2011 did minimal damage to the property.
While most other vacation destinations have off-seasons due to bad weather, Hawai`i Island is a four-season destination that can be enjoyed all-year round---and the sun shines nearly 300 days a year. There is no bad weather season here---or even a rainy season---only sunny days with temperatures that average 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the hottest month (August) and 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the coldest month (January). The total annual rainfall averages only eight inches. The resort, including the Four Seasons, does experience busy seasons, which coincide with school breaks, Christmas and the month of August.
Avid golfers, including some well-known members of the professional golf community, rave about Hualālai Club, where they can play golf to their heart’s content. Tee times are never required at the private golf course which is off-limits to anyone other than Members and their guests. In total, fewer than 13,000 rounds of golf are played annually on the club’s private Tom Weiskopf-designed 18-hole golf course. The hotel’s Jack Nicklaus-designed course, which is open to both Hualālai Members and hotel guests, hosts approximately 25,000 rounds a year---but this is still a paltry number compared to other comparable resort golf courses around the world. In other words, rarely would a twosome or foursome need to wait to tee-off or feel rushed by a group playing behind them. In addition to two golf courses there are two practice facilities including a short game practice area at both courses, three putting greens with two at the Ke`olu golf course and two teaching pros on staff at each course
Originally developed during the early 1990’s by Kojima, a Japanese general contractor with investment from Cosmo World, the hotel officially opened for business in 1996. Today, it is co-owned by billionaires Michael Dell and Rob Walton, former chairman of Walmart. The Hualālai development consists of the Four Seasons Resort Hualālai, a Forbes Five-Star rated hotel that offers 243 guest rooms and suites located in a series of two-storey bungalows. The residential component of Hualālai is currently comprised of 330 homes and private club facilities.
The rate for a room or suite at the Four Seasons Resort Hualālai ranges from approximately $900 a night to upwards of $15,000 a night with a minimum stay of seven nights (or ten nights during peak seasons). The hotel is so popular that it is necessary to book a reservation to stay there during peak periods, include the holiday season, up to a year in advance. It’s worth noting that Four Seasons Resort Hualālai is the only hotel on the Hawai`i Island awarded a Forbes Five-Star rating and one of only a handful throughout the islands of Hawai`i with such a rating.
Home ownership at Hualālai
Of the 330 homes on the property, there are only 33 homes on the market and eight empty lots available to purchase if a buyer prefers to custom build a home. The inventory of Hualālai properties available for purchase currently includes empty lots (which typically sell for $2 million to $2,695,000). Villas without pools, currently on the market, range in price from $1,475,000 to $2,650,000 while larger residential villas with pools range in price from $4,418,000 to $6,950,000. There are also a number of single family homes currently available for purchase ranging in price from $3,975,000 to a $14,950,000 home that was recently featured on Forbes. This custom-built home offers 7,070 square feet of interior air conditioned space with five bedrooms, five full baths and two half baths. The home is offered completely furnished (including a valuable art collection), and features an additional 2,437 square feet of covered outdoor space.
With such easy commercial air-service, in addition to an airport that can accommodate private jets of all sizes, most homeowners hail from California, Texas, Canada and Japan. According to Kildow, the majority of homeowners started off as hotel guests and one-third of all home sales each year are to existing homeowners who are trading up for a larger property. Only six of the 330 families who own homes here call Hualālai their full-time residence, including Kildow and his wife, Barbara.
Homeowners have full access to the hotel and a private club
Homeowners are also required to pay a membership deposit of $250,000 and annual club dues of $43,229 which provides membership for their immediate family (including parents, grandparents, grandchildren and son-in-laws and daughter-in-laws) at the private Hualālai Club. Upon joining the Hualalai Club, Members have access to two private club facilities, that are off-limits to hotel guests, which includes two private Members'-only club restaurants, Ke`olu Clubhouse and the Hualālai Canoe Club, a fitness center, two private swimming pools and the Members'-only 18-hole Tom Weiskopf-designed Ke`olu golf course. The golf course features several complimentary “comfort stations” that are tended to daily by the club’s chefs that offer a wide range of fresh food---from chicken, tuna and fruit salads to a wide range of snacks and cookies---in addition to a full bar.
Annual membership dues also provide Members with a broad array of amenities at the Four Seasons Resort Hualālai, which includes access to the resort’s swimming pools (of which four are at the hotel and one at the spa), three oceanfront restaurants and two oceanside lounges. Members can also use the Four Seasons’ world-class 28,000 square foot full-service luxury spa and fitness center equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and a plethora of complimentary fitness classes, from spinning to yoga. There’s also a tennis club with eight Rebound Ace surface courts and teaching professionals, a beachfront watersports program that features outrigger canoes, paddle boards and snorkeling, and the previously mentioned golf program. There’s little need to leave the property as a trading post on site called Hualālai Trading Company is stocked with all the essentials, from grocery items, wine and beer to prepared food.
There’s no need for Members to carry a wallet during their time at Hualālai , as everything, including all charges at the hotel’s restaurants, bars, boutiques and sports facilities, can be assigned to the Member’s account number. Members receive a 10% discount on all food and beverage purchases at the hotel. And every home is equipped with a golf cart, which is the only transportation necessary to get around the grounds of Hualālai. In addition, transportation to and from Kona airport is also provided for Members. “Imagine returning to Hualālai with only a carry-on bag,” says Kildow. “Your arrival is care free with a staff member at the airport waiting for you. And when you leave Hualālai, a staff member will meet you at your front door to drive you to the airport. It's a very personalized service.”
The Hualālai home owning experience
Once a home is purchased, Four Seasons Resort Hualālai offers a management service called Hualālai Villas & Homes that takes care of a homeowner’s every need---from arranging for grocery shopping to catering a dinner party. Other services, such as housekeeping, landscaping and home maintenance are also taken care of, as well as receiving deliveries and packages. And before the homeowner returns to their property, the property manager will make sure that it is clean and everything is in place according to the owner’s preferences, from organizing their shoe racks to stocking their kitchen with favorite foods and beverages. The Hualālai community
Members of the Hualālai community celebrate “ohana”, which is a Hawaiian concept that emphasizes that families are bound together and must cooperate and support one another. According to Uncle Earl, nearly every Hualālai Resort resident supports the Hualālai `Ohana Foundation, a fund started by a group of homeowners wishing to provide funding for qualified Four Seasons Resort Hualālai employees and their families who have educational and medical expenses. The foundation also pays for transportation and other related costs incurred when Four Seasons Resort Hualālai employees and their families seek medical care off-island.
The Hualālai `Ohana Foundation is an example of the meaning of “aloha” at Hualālai , says Regidor, who explains that the word means much more than “hello” and “goodbye”. Indeed, once you visit Hualālai Resort, you quickly see first-hand that aloha also translates into love, peace and compassion. These attributes, which are not found at many other luxury resort destinations, make Hualālai Resort a unique and magical place to own a home.