The Makai Cottages at Kukui'ula are large single family homes with private poolsREAL ESTATE

Kukui'ula is second to none for second-home real estate in Kauai, Hawaii

By Larry Olmsted,
Special Contributor

What recession?

Apparently, when it comes to second-home real estate on the island of Kauai, price is no object.

Already home to the famed Prince Course, Kauai Lagoons and longtime PGA Grand Slam home Poipu Bay, which all allow public access and recently received substantial facelifts, now there is a private course that meets the island's high golfing standards: Kukui'ula.

While most golf course and private club construction has slowed to a crawl -- and Hawaii has been especially hard hit -- the Tom Weiskopf-designed Kukui'ula opened this year, complete with a $100 million clubhouse and spa. (The course is open for limited play now and will officially open in June 2011). This makes it one of the highest-profile golf course communities in the world.

Kukui'ula golf courseKukui'ula's co-developer, Scottsdale-based DMB (which developed both Lahontan and Martis Camp in California), has taken a very different tact with this project -- other than its signature over-the-top clubhouse.

The Kukui'ula project began nearly five years ago during better times. In 2007-08, 81 homesites were sold. When sales dropped to virtually nothing, instead of packing up and splitting as many developers did, DMB changed gears. It suspended sales and marketing efforts for two years, focusing all its resources on completing the amenities on time -- and it delivered.

Weiskopf has become a fixture on the high-end private golf community circuit, and this is no exception. The terrain is rolling and the course is lined with a botanical garden's worth of tropical foliage, while Weiskopf's design offers ocean views from almost every hole.

Kukui'ula golf courseBut in this case, the golf course may be overshadowed by the community's other amenities. After all, the $100 million spent on the Plantation Clubhouse does not even cover golfers (the course has its own separate clubhouse).

The larger main one is a focal point of the new community, and surprisingly does not feature a McMansion look like so many of its peers. Instead, it's done in a Hawaiian cottage style and looks like a bunch of smaller buildings attached to one another, with a sort of understated grandeur.

It includes a 20,000-square-foot garden spa with indoor and outdoor treatment rooms, a huge state-of-the-art fitness center, lap pools, and all sorts of classes from yoga to Pilates with an emphasis on wellness.

Carrying this aesthetic outside the huge building, Kukui'ula has a community farm, complete with full-time horticulturalist to help owners grow their favorite fruits and vegetables. A weekly farmers market with outside vendors bringing their goods augments this.

The other major infrastructure amenity is the publicly accessible Kukui'ula Village, a shopping, entertainment and specialty retail center. Several shops feature apparel, jewelry and gift items, and eight restaurants offer options ranging from take-out to fine dining, with an emphasis on home-grown Hawaiian names such as Bubba Burgers, Lappert's Ice Cream & Coffee, Uncle's Shave Ice & Smoothies and Merriman's Kauai.

Two additional restaurants are planned for later this year. Other key features of the 1,000-acre community include an elaborate series of swimming pools and a 22-acre freshwater fishing lake, which is rather unusual for Hawaii.

Kukui'ula - Club CottagesCustom homesites begin at $1 million. The main alternative is one of the 15 single-story Makai Cottages, which will be located on the first four holes on one-quarter to one-third of an acre fairway lots. Cottages range in size from 1,500 to 3,800 square feet and are priced between $2.2 million and $3.6 million. The first one was recently completed and is open for tours. It's 3,670 square feet and includes three bedrooms, three-and-a-half bathrooms, several lanais, a great room, a saltwater pool and spa, an outdoor garden shower and a freestanding guest cottage.

In addition, developers just announced the addition of 15 smaller Kukui'ula Club Cottages near the Plantation Clubhouse, which can be occupied or rented out for overnight guests. The first four are scheduled to be finished this fall.

Larry Olmsted has written more than 1,000 articles on golf and golf travel, for the likes of Golf Magazine, T&L Golf, LINKS, Golf & Travel, Men's Health, Men's Journal, USA Today, and many others. He broke the Guinness World Record for golf travel and wrote Getting into Guinness, as well as Golf Travel by Design. He was the founding editor of The Golf Insider, and the golf columnist for both USA Today.com and US Airways Magazine.

May 16, 2011

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management. The information in this story was accurate at the time of publication. All contact information, directions and prices should be confirmed directly with the golf course or resort before making reservations and/or travel plans.

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