Construction of a $250-million hotel and condominium project, described as representing the "second wave of Hawaiian development," will begin next year in the master-planned Wailea resort on the island of Maui.
The project, however, will have a certain Southern California flair: It is a joint venture between Newport Beach resort developer Bergheer Co. and Los Angeles-based Grand Champions Resorts. For good measure, the architect of the 250-room luxury beach-front hotel and 188 condos is Irvine's Corbin/Yamafuji & Partners Inc.
"We talked with developers throughout the world, and Southern California builders consistently had an affinity for what we were trying to accomplish at Wailea," said Gary Gifford, vice president and general manager of Alexander & Baldwin Co.'s Wailea Development Co. subsidiary, the master developer of Wailea.
"Southern California is the most sophisticated building community in the world from all standpoints--design, merchandising, marketing--and we wanted these areas of expertise especially represented at Wailea."
Neither Bergheer nor Grand Champions is a newcomer to the resort development business. Bergheer has built resort and vacation properties in Palm Springs, Indian Wells and Scottsdale, Ariz., as well as co-developing the $160-million Colony at Mandalay Beach residential and resort community in Oxnard. Grand Champions has projects under way in Indian Wells and the Virgin Islands.
The Wailea venture, however, is the first Hawaiian project either developer has undertaken.
"We have been looking at many Hawaiian properties for several years and this (project) met all our qualifications," said Karl Bergheer, president of the Bergheer Co.
The popular Wailea Tennis Club will top the list of recreational amenities at the new project, Bergheer said. He explained that the partners have signed a long-term lease that will allow owners and guests to use the club, often called "Wimbledon West" because it has the only grass courts in the Hawaiian islands.
"We are close to completing negotiations to purchase an additional 700 acres on which to build two major 18-hole golf courses," Bergheer added. Wailea already boasts the two most played golf courses in the islands, he said.
The Grand Champions Resort Hotel will be a luxury hotel in the European tradition, with butler and concierge services. The hotel will rise seven stories and be tucked into a lush hillside.
"The minimum hotel accommodation will be a suite, and we'll also have a separate section called the Tatami Suites," said architect Bob Yamafuji. The Tatami Suites, he explained, "will be situated in a Japanese-style garden, not unlike a traditional Japanese inn, with a system of interlocking pools and spas."
The low-rise condos will be built in clusters around the tennis club and range in size from 955 to 1,439 square feet.
Wailea Development's Gifford said the new project "represents the second wave of Hawaiian development" because a growing number of builders are coming back to the islands after construction began to taper off in the late 1970s. Seibu Developers of Japan recently opened a 350-room hotel in the 1,500-acre Wailea resort, and more condominiums are under construction at a nearby development known as Wailea Point.