Couple finds island paradise
Calgary family buys home in Hawaii to escape Alberta chill and Arizona heat
After decades of Canadian winters, a Calgary couple decided to move to Scottsdale, Ariz., to escape the cold.
They took the two youngest of their five children — the other three are at university — on the move with them a year-and-ahalf ago.
But that ended up prompting another move. Don and Kim Gray discovered they really needed to escape the Arizona heat in the summer.
“Part of the summer, we go to Canada and the other part, we wanted someplace else to go,” says Don.
They found a magical place on the Hawaiian island of Kauai to retreat to — Kukui’ula, a luxury golf resort. It is being jointly developed by Alexander and Baldwin of Honolulu and DMB Associates Inc., a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based community development company.
The Grays were familiar with DMB, which is the developer of their Scottsdale community, Silverleaf DC Ranch.
“This year, when our kids had their fall break, we went to Kauai and really loved our experience,” says Don, an engineer who cofounded Peyto Exploration and Development Corp. in Calgary in 1998.
“We went and saw the property and fell in love with it. We thought it would be a great fit for us and for our family.”
Development at Kukui’ula — “kukui” is the Hawaiian word for candlenut, the state tree of Hawaii, and “ula” means glowing — will be capped at 1,500 homes.
Now in its second year, 100 homes have been sold and about 30 homes are complete. The developers will work through the next phases in the coming years to introduce more housing types and price ranges.
There are three distinct areas in Kukui’ula. The Club Cottages, where the Grays bought, are twoand three-bedroom cottages lining the avenue leading to the main clubhouse amenities.
The Mauka neighbourhood offers estate custom home sites in rolling mountainside terrain, with a strong emphasis on big blue ocean and golf course views. This area has four homes under construction.
The Makai neighbourhood is a mix of predesigned homes by the developer to mix and match lots with homes, as well as a handful of custom cottage lots. These are in the flatter, more neighbourhoodlike environment.
Custom lots start around $800,000 US, while finished homes in the Club Cottages start at $2.5 million. Homeowners’ association dues are $850 per month and club dues are $1,060 per month.
The Grays bought a Club Cottage for $2.9 million. It’s a twobedroom home with a third guest suite in a separate building on the property.
The bedrooms in the main cottage are double master bedrooms with ensuites, which not only include indoor showers and soaker tubs, but outdoor showers as well.
It offers a spacious kitchen and dining room — and the doors from the great room open outside onto the lanai, which is a screened covered porch.
The backyard holds a fire pit for enjoying the evening, the scene set with tiki torches.
The home, which the family took possession of in December, is right next to the Plantation Club, spa building and golf club house.
“We were looking for a place
C MVisit our website under the heading, ‘Rec Properties,’ for more photos and stories. where we could be for a chunk of time, maybe six weeks in the summer, and really immerse ourselves in the whole community,” says Don.
The family loves the slower pace of the island and being able to bike where they need to go.
“You have a number of beaches,” he says. “Right at Kukui’ula is a harbour, so there’s a calmer beach there. If you go farther down the road, in Poipu, they have some very calm beaches — and then there are some with amazing waves for boogie boarding and surfing. There’s a wide variety.”
Hawaii has many amenities for beach visitors, with change rooms, toilets and showers joining plenty of parking at many of the state’s beaches.
The immediate area also offers hiking along the ocean off a shipwreck beach, along with standup paddle boards, whale watching and monk seals. There’s also snorkelling and scuba diving.
“I’ve lived all over the world, owned a property in Mexico and enjoyed the luxury of learning from some of those experiences. You just can’t take away the positive from owning a place in the United States,” says Don.
“The rule of law works and you have title. The service is very, very good. You can expect a high level of service and get it.
“In other parts of the world where (property) is cheaper, there’s a reason why it’s cheaper. As much as they’re beautiful places, they come with a lot of frustration sometimes, too.”
The Grays are participating in the Lodge Hospitality Program, a way to put their home in a rental pool while they are not using it.
When it came to designing the community, Brent Herrington, president of Kukui’ula Development Co. and senior vice-president of DMB Associates Inc., was determined it be true to the laidback, earthy Kauai.
Known as the Garden Island, Kauai is geologically the oldest island in the main Hawaiian archipelago.
“The vision of Kukui’ula was always about creating something that feels like it belongs on Kauai — something that becomes a connected and included part of the larger community of Kauai — and done in a way that really honours and respects the culture and the history, the architecture, the biology of this island, rather than being some new, unrelated thing that got dropped on the south shore of the island,” says Herrington.
The first part to be built was a mixed-use dining and shopping area at the edge of the Kukui’ula property — the Shops at Kukui’ula — with art galleries and the weekly farmers’ market to provide a place to meet and gather.
The Plantation House, which is a private club, is the centrepiece of Kukui’ula — a gathering place with most of the amenities.
Radiating out from the club are three arms of Club Cottages. The first row of 15 single-family, detached cottages line the club drive, a tree-lined avenue that pulls up in front of the building.
The Plantation House is designed in the style of traditional plantation architecture as a single-storey, low-profile building.
“As you pull up to it, you have no sense of the scale of the building,” says Herrington.
“It feels like driving up to the front door of a home. It’s only as you’re inside and moving through the spaces that you realize it’s really quite a large facility, but it’s been designed so that you never feel that you’re entered a big institutional building.”
Next to the Plantation House is the golf club. The course is a grand, traditional one designed by Tom Weiskopf that makes the most of the rolling terrain and dramatic views.
Along each hole grows something that can be worn or eaten — from the edible macadamia nut trees and pineapple plants to the crown flower shrubs that are used in making leis or flower necklaces.
The third building is the Spa at Kukui’ula, which offers treatments, fitness classes and massages.
A unique amenity at the resort grew organically from a desire to set down roots in the red earth of the area.
An idea for a community farm resulted in the Upcountry Farm and Lake, an amenity staffed by farmers that allows residents to partake and pick fresh produce and flowers as they wish.
Produce from the farm is also featured on the menus at the Plantation Club.
“We provide information on what’s ripe on any given day and where to find it, and we provide the little nippers and gloves and anything you’ll need, from baskets to bags,” says Herrington.
“The funny thing is that the farm was almost an afterthought in our vision — and after all the money we’ve spent on everything else, the farm is an inexpensive amenity by comparison, yet I think most of the members here would tell you that it’s one of the most loved and the most favourite amenity in all of Kukui’ula.” The family, which is from Calgary, lives in Scottsdale, Ariz. They needed a place to escape the heat in the summer — somewhere they would enjoy for years to come as a place for family to reconnect and enjoy outdoor pursuits. They bought a Club Cottage at Kukui’ula, on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, which they can also put into a resort rental program when they are not using the property. The couple has five children: Shannon, 23, Andrew, 21, Jessica, 19, Nicole, 12, and Sam, 11.
Kim and Don Gray, centre — with Sam, far left, and Nicole, far right, the youngest of the couple’s five children — enjoy a hike on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.
A firepit outside one of the Club Cottage homes at Kukui’ula, a resort on the ‘Garden Island’ of Kauai.
A ceiling fan adds a tropical touch to the great room in the home.