Resort records $43.5M in August sales


POSTED: Monday, November 16, 2009

Despite the down economy, the North Kona Coast's luxurious Hualalai Resort sold a record $43.5 million in real estate in August and is on track to close $130 million in transactions by year's end.

“;Sales at Hualalai Resort in 2009 have surpassed our highest expectations in spite of the worst recession in recent history,”; said Patrick Fitzgerald, chief executive officer.

August sales, which equal more than a third of the resort's total sales during the last 13 years, pushed the year-to-date sales of homes and home sites to $90 million, Fitzgerald said. Momentum is expected to continue at the resort, where prices range from $2 million to $30 million, he said.

“;I'm optimistic. Not only have we continued to close more sales in the last 30 to 45 days, but people are still talking to our sales agents,”; Fitzgerald said. “;But it's still a very difficult environment, and 2010 will continue to be a challenging year for Hawaii.”;





        Hualalai sales at a glance:

» New record: August, $43.5 million in sales


» Previous record: April 2004, $40 million in sales


» Total sales: Nearly $1.6 billion since 1996




Prices at Hualalai have dropped this year anywhere from 1 to 20 percent; however, with the run-up in sales, they appear to have stabilized, Fitzgerald said.

“;Prices aren't dropping anymore,”; he said. “;We appear to have hit a bottom in 2009, and now it's begun climbing up; hopefully, we'll be one of the leaders to take the high end out of its slump.”;

While Hualalai has long set a benchmark for luxury resorts, Fitzgerald said completion of a $40 million resort enhancement in August has fueled interest.

“;In this environment, where a lot of resort developments have been pulling back, we've been making a significant investment,”; he said.

During a down economy, buyers do more risk calculation, Fitzgerald said.

“;They want to know that they are making a purchase in a quality project where they will be able to continue to enjoy themselves,”; he said.

The project, which included the addition of more suites at the Four Seasons, a Hualalai Spa expansion and upgrades to the resort's retail and dining offerings, was funded by a joint venture that included computer mogul Michael Dell.

Since buying the resort in May 2006, Dell's MSD Capital LP and Rockpoint Group LLC added 20 new suites to the hotel, which received both a five-star rating from Forbes Travel Guide and a five-diamond rating from AAA for 2010 and was ranked the No. 1 beach resort in the world in Andrew Harper's Hideaway.

Improvements include renovations to the hotel's oceanfront restaurant, Beach Tree, and a new collection of boutiques offering custom and limited-edition pieces from top designers such as Stella McCartney, Derek Lam, James Perse and Gregory Parkinson.

In addition to its infrastructure improvements, MSD and Rockpoint's recent purchase of the neighboring Kona Village resort made it possible for Hualalai to launch activities and cultural programs called Voyages, ranging from outrigger canoe excursions to paddleboard lessons and swims with dolphins. Ukulele and Hawaiian language lessons also are part of Voyages.

Hualalai club memberships that cost property owners a $225,000 entry fee and $27,000 annual fee offer access to two 18-hole championship golf courses designed by Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf. Members also have use of the Hualalai Sports Club & Spa and the Canoe Club, host to an annual regatta in August; the Hualalai Tennis Club; and the oceanfront Residents' Beach House. Amenities at Four Seasons Hualalai Resort, including the beach and pools, are included, too.