Hawaii’s Iconic Mauna Kea Resort Remains As Unique As When Laurance Rockefeller Developed It In 1965

Real Estate

Hawaii’s iconic Mauna Kea Resort on the Big Island’s Kohala Coast is unique. “Mauna Kea is truly a family legacy for many. The children and even grandchildren of the original owners who now own the properties do not want to sell. They want to use it with their children and make their own memories on the beach for years to come,” observes Steve Hurwitz, broker-in-charge at Mauna Kea Realty – A Hawai’i Life Company.

That multi-generational devotion to Mauna Kea Resort may account for some of the current market fundamentals. “Our market is a snapshot of what’s going on in highly desirable resort areas around the country,” Hurwitz explains. “We have high demand with low inventory resulting in price escalations and multiple offers,” Hurwitz adds. He points to average selling times dropping from 6 months to 30 days for desirable properties. “Many properties are not on the market and trading as pocket listings.”

Jim Allison, a salesperson with Mauna Kea Realty for years, concurs with Hurwitz. “Inventory is depleted here as people who could work from anywhere and wanted out of the rat race chose to move here during COVID. We have two good private schools, and it’s a place people really want to be.” The latest Mauna Kea Resort Sales report shows an 83% year-over-year sales increase for Q1 – Q3 2021.  

The Mauna Kea Resort buyer demographic has recently trended younger, with buyers hailing from the West Coast, including California and Washington. “The Mauna Kea market was always considered a second-home market. That has changed a bit with the pandemic as younger families are moving here and making it their primary residence,” observes Robert Chancer, principal broker at Mauna Kea Realty.

Laurance S. Rockefeller set the standard for world-class resorts when he created and developed Mauna Kea. It set the tone for what today remains one of the world’s top resorts. Rockefeller curated an extensive collection of Asian and Oceanic artwork throughout the resort that further set it apart.

Set on 1,839 acres of pure oceanfront luxury sits Mauna Kea Beach Hotel and the Westin Hapuna Beach Hotel. Two championship 18-hole golf courses ranked No.12 overall in the Top 100 Golf Magazine complete this perfect picture of the good life.

The luxury residential real estate at Mauna Kea Resort remains as iconic as Rockefeller’s grand vision of decades ago. This includes Fairways at Mauna Kea South, Fairways at Mauna Kea North, The Villas at Mauna Kea, Kauna’oa at Mauna Kea, Bluffs, High Bluffs, Hapuna Beach Residences, Kumulani at the Uplands, Moani Heights, Apa’apa’a Heights and Wai’ula’ula. Mauna Kea’s highest-priced sale in 20 years was at Kauna’oa, a five-bedroom six-bath 6,700 square foot home on two-plus acres, which sold in February for $18.5 million.

“This was the first luxury resort to develop a residential ownership piece as part of the resort,” said Chancer. “I have been involved with the resort and a club member since the seventies. It has always been very much a multi-generational place. That’s why we do sell a lot of property that has that connection,” Chancer explains. Strong relationships develop and continue for years among Members and their families at the private Club at Mauna Kea Resort. Members have access to social events, amenities at both hotels, golf courses, beaches, and spas.

After entering the front gates for Mauna Kea Beach Hotel are the Fairways at Mauna Kea South, Fairways at Mauna Kea North, and The Villas. These are Mauna Kea’s oldest communities. Fairways South was the first residential community developed with Rockefeller’s input. This was the forerunner to the current ownership trend of luxury branded residences attached to luxury resort and hotel properties. The homes are a mix of original, remodeled, and teardowns with stunning ocean views. Before COVID prices were in the $3,000,000 to $4,000,000 range. They currently are selling when available for between $5,000,000 to $8,000,000.

Fairways North was the second single-family residential community to be developed. It is gated with large lots and expansive contemporary homes many with ocean/coastline views. The Villas own the distinction of the first condominiums built in the early ’80s. They were originally built with most as 2,700 square foot two-bedroom villas.

Over the years, several units have been converted into three- and four-bedroom homes. Some original owners remain at The Villas, as do their children and grandchildren who inherit properties. As a result, The Villas do not often come on the market.

Matt Beall, chief executive and principal broker for Hawai’i Life, expands on Mauna Kea Resort’s legacy. “The history combined with the sense of place that is now so well-formed creates that generational interest. They do understand the value of Mauna Kea Resort.” According to Beall, “the Big Island has been the most active in ultra-luxury sales.” That is not surprising as the legend of Mauna Kea lives on.

Hawai’i Life is a founding member of Forbes Global Properties, a consumer marketplace and membership network of elite brokerages selling the world’s most luxurious homes.

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