When you arrive at the Lihue Airport in Kaua‘i, you immediately feel the intimacy and warmth of the cozy island (it is only 25 miles long and 33 miles wide). A five-minute drive away is the newly built Timbers Kaua‘i Ocean Club & Residences at Hokuala, a truly unforgettable experience and destination.
Nearly two decades after Hurricane Iniki, the 450-acre property has finally seen development, and it is astonishing indeed. With 47 boutique residences for ownership and a new luxury vacation rental program (rates $1,500 to $6,500 per night), the residence club is making a grand statement. Perched cliffside, ocean views that overlook the historic Ninini Point Lighthouse and the Hau‘pu Ridge, are epic and endless.
I arrived at Timbers Kaua‘i at the tail end of Hurricane Hector (lucky for me!), but as I toured the vast location, I felt a sense of dark, storm-laced beauty in paradise—the ocean waters were a deep, thoughtful dark blue, and bulbous and ripe clouds blanketed the silver sky. Most of the custom residences for sale have floor-to-ceiling windows that perfectly capture panoramic views of Kaua‘i’s south shore.
Having had a privately guided kayak ride and hike canceled due to ill weather, I was taken to view Wailua Falls by adventure guide Gaither Rosser (who can customize any type of swashbuckling, and/or adrenaline-filled activity you’d like), as well as David Nagao, association director for Hokuala. The waterfall was quite tempestuous, as you can imagine, due to Hector, so we spent time gazing at the incredible pounding water, but didn’t venture down to the bottom due to hazardous conditions.
As we journeyed back to the property via a vintage van, which added to the already National Geographic-esque feel of the afternoon, Nagao spoke fondly about growing up on a nearby farm and contributing to the property’s organic community farm, the Farm at Hokuala.
While Timbers Kaua‘i was being built, the search was on to find an experienced farmer who would be able to transform an abandoned golf course into a full-fledged organic farm. And, thus, they discovered Cody Meyer, a dedicated chef-turned-farmer (who happens to have chef-ed in the Antarctic, believe it or not). Meeting “Farmer Cody” is an experience I wholeheartedly recommend if you are visiting. He single-handedly transformed overgrown land into a stunning and sustainable farm—with help only from his 5-year-old daughter and Nagao. Farmer Cody doesn’t believe in straight lines, so the farm’s dozens of vegetable, herb and flower patches (think sweet Swiss chard, robust red beets and minty Japanese shiso leaves) are shaped into undulating curves and circles. Upon visiting, Farmer Cody offered our group fresh coconuts; he picked and cut one open, and we drank the refreshing nectar, which was delicately sweet and cool. He also had us taste fermented or sprouted coconut, which is an aged version of the fruit that looks and tastes exactly like spongecake.
The vibrant pickings from the farm are not only offered to residents and guests (I took back a heaping basket of fresh greens and tomatoes for later), but also a source of inspiration for executive chef Jafet Tellez, who directs all dining offered at Timbers Kaua‘i.
I was delighted to enjoy a dinner cooked personally for my family by Tellez and his crew within my residence (all of the sleek kitchens are equipped with state-of-the-art appliances, pots and pans, etc.), an exclusive service offered to guests and residents. I found out that Tellez, who hails from Mexico City, had been recruited from a position in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and had just moved to Kaua‘i a few months before. I was quite impressed that his cooking, which, though inspired by his Mexican heritage, was still representative of local ingredients. In a short period of time, Tellez had managed to work with Farmer Cody to develop a menu of his own that still reflected strongly on Hawaiian regional cuisine. He also, that evening, created a hamachi dish especially for my 1-year-old that was exquisite and sophisticated, yet still easy for an infant to enjoy—and devour.
My final day at Timbers Kaua‘i ended up being a glorious day—all storminess disappeared, and I woke up to the most awe-inspiring views of crystal-clear waters and a cloudless sky. I took a walk on the winding cliffside paths lining the property and felt weightless amid the gentle trade winds and the calmness of the weather, then enjoyed a meandering bike ride around the property (there are over 17 miles of hiking and biking trails). During the afternoon, I was excited to experience the 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature Ocean Course, which has a number of breathtaking ocean holes. If you play, I recommend that you ask for golf marketing assistant Hualani Duncan to make a round with you—she embodies the aloha spirit in the most divine way, and spending time golfing with her is a true way to experience Kaua‘i’s extraordinary feeling of ‘ohana (family). Her name Hualani, which means “fruit of the heavens,” became the main restaurant’s name. And given her cultural knowledge and background, Duncan was given the job of naming all three of the residence buildings in Hawaiian; she spent days contemplating and looking for inspiration for the monikers.
My visit to this property was one of the more meaningful ones I’ve had. I say this because, beyond the stunning rooms, views and offerings, this place has a soul and spirit that carries over even after leaving. It is like visiting an adored member of your family at a spectacular location. The people you will meet at Timbers Kaua‘i, and the sense of genuine warmth and grace that they will impart on you is unforgettable. Town homes and condos from $2-$10 million, 3770 Ala‘oli Way, Lihue, 720.6677