When Gary Moore and his colleagues at Timbers Resorts first saw the 450-acre property that would become Hokuala—with Timbers Kauai as the crown jewel—he immediately realized its potential: The expansive coastline with hidden beaches, dramatic views of the Pacific and Ha‘upu mountain range: verdent landscape surrounding 30 acres of lagoons; and hiking trails and the coastline were all undoubtedly unique and irreplaceable.
But he also knew the amount of work that would have to go into it: “The entire property was in disrepair and had been all but forgotten,” Moore says.
One year later, the golf course was renovated, the grounds and lagoons landscaped and plans put in place for the Timbers Kauai — Ocean Club & Residences. Construction on Timbers Kauai commenced summer 2016 and completed June 2018, and 40 percent of the residences have been sold. We caught up with Moore to reflect on seeing the project come to fruition from the ground up (literally).
Tell us what this property was like when you found it.
We knew from the moment we saw the property in 2014 that it was a very unique place, one that required careful stewardship to match its unrivaled natural surroundings.
But we also knew we had our work cut out, as the property had gone into disrepair during the preceding decade. Initial planning efforts included restoring the golf course, the landscape and lagoon system throughout the resort; creating a community trail system and organic farm; master planning the resort core; and, most importantly, establishing a local team to execute on this vision before reintroducing the incredible gem that is Hokuala to the community of Kauai.
How long did the initial development take?
We started development in early 2015, and the golf and landscaping improvements were completed at the end of 2016. During that same time we master-planned the resort core, chose the prime oceanfront site for Timbers Kauai and began design. We started construction on Timbers Kauai in summer 2016, completed construction in June 2018 and hosted our Grand Opening on July 2, 2018.
What has been completed so far?
We have completed 47 residences that are part of the Timbers Kauai — Ocean Club & Residences, the golf course renovation, a 13-mile community trail system and an organic farm. Timbers Kauai has all the amenities of a five-star resort including Hualani’s restaurant—which has been a great addition for the island—two infinity-edge pools, a fitness center and a spa.
What are some of the accomplishments over the past year that you’re most proud of?
We’ve set a new standard for hospitality on the island. We’re looking to do something special here with a more relaxed brand of luxury, something we like to refer to as “barefoot sophistication.” It’s not pretentious, just really friendly luxury service. The people of Kauai truly embrace the aloha spirit of sharing through their sincere desire to share with our Owners all this amazing island has to offer, along with genuine attitudes and smiles. So all we have to do is deliver the training and tools for our team to excel. We are fortunate to have such an amazing team. Without amazing people you can’t be an amazing place, no matter how beautiful it is. Our genuine aloha spirit resonates with our Owners and guests to create an unforgettable experience and sense of place. Without a doubt, that has been our biggest accomplishment over the last year, and we are excited to build on that as Hokuala and Timbers Kauai continue to mature.
What are you most excited about?
Seeing this long-neglected property come to life was a huge accomplishment not only for us, but for the island community to enjoy, as well. We are very excited to see the response to our unique offering and the incredible support from our community. We are most excited for the future: We have really only just begun.
What were some of your biggest challenges?
Initially, due to the fact that the property had been in disrepair for a number of years and had changed hands through a series of master developers, it was challenge to convey our vision of Hokuala and Timbers Kauai to the local community and to gain their confidence in our longevity. We are very sensitive to developments in pristine areas and believe we must approach this with the local community in mind. Responsible development requires a careful balance of meeting economic and environmental needs, while ensuring that what you are developing is sustainable for the long term and protects the natural surroundings. Our Owners aren’t just purchasing the sticks and bricks; they are purchasing a way of life with an incredible team to take care of them for years to come.
What makes Timbers Kauai different from other resort developments on the island?
Development on Kauai has a unique set of challenges, ranging from having entitled development property (fortunately 85 percent of the island is protected) to high building costs and logistical challenges on execution. Given the challenges, Timbers Kauai is unique in that there are no other new oceanfront resort developments on the island. More importantly, the unique concept of effortless ownership, which was first introduced by Timbers Resorts more than 20 years ago, resonates with our Owners. In short, we create places that take care of you, so you do not have to worry about anything at all. From the moment you get off the plane until the moment you leave, our team is going to take care of you. You can be surfing, golfing or enjoying a Mai Tai poolside within 30 minutes of your arrival.
What is one moment for you in the past year that really stands out?
The night before we officially opened the property, we had all of our team members on board. Their families were here; their kids here sweeping garages, installing dishwear and taking care of every last detail. It literally takes a village—or an island in this case—and the whole island was here. When I saw the passion that our team was putting into this effort, I was in awe and knew we were going to nail it. This was a highlight not only of the last year but also of my career.
What was it like for you when the guests and owners started to arrive?
Watching their faces and their emotional responses as they arrive and are greeted by our team at Timbers Kauai is always very special. Observing dreams become reality is the most rewarding part of our business. Another highlight is our coconut-planting ceremony for Owners. Ownership is really about planting your roots in Kauai, and to celebrate that belief we have curated a planting ceremony for each of our Owners during their very first stay. We have our team and the Owners and family meet to plant a tree in their honor at the farm—a place they can return to year after year to harvest the fruits of their roots. Seeing families ingrained in the Kauai lifestyle and culture is what it’s all about.