When night falls, the sky above Haiku House on Maui’s North Shore is filled with stars — millions, maybe trillions of them, far too many to count even with a powerful telescope.
They look like sparkling crystals of salt sprinkled across a dark cloth; living in urban Honolulu, where light pollution is ever-present, I had never seen that incredible panorama before. With no other buildings or people in sight, I imagined it was an extraordinary show being put on just for me.
The Owners and History of Haiku House
Aside from the incredible after-dark views, there’s a lot more to appreciate about a stay at this elegant vacation home, beginning with its history. In 1849, King Kamehameha III deeded 530 acres, including the 20 that Haiku House now occupies, to missionary Richard Armstrong for a dollar as payment for his help in writing and implementing the Great Mahele. That land redistribution plan opened the door to fee-simple ownership of land in Hawaii; previously, only Hawaiian royalty could own land.
After Armstrong, the property had a succession of owners: Henry Baldwin, co-founder of local corporate giant Alexander & Baldwin; California philanthropist Athalie Clarke; Crystal Cathedral, a Christian ministry led by Reverend Robert Schuller, a televangelist, author and motivational speaker; and William Simon, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury during the Nixon and Ford administrations. The current owner, businessman Caleb Chan, resides in Vancouver, but maintains close Maui ties as the owner of Wailea Golf Club.
The Baldwin family built the original part of the house in the mid-1800s. During the century that they owned the property, they hosted many lavish galas for distinguished guests, including King Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani, Hawaii’s last reigning monarchs. Subsequent owners all contributed to the landscaping and renovations; thus, Haiku House has always been a haven of singular charm and beauty.
Suites, Amenities and Activities at the Estate
Nine air-conditioned rooms on two stories offer either a king or a queen bed, ensuite bathrooms and spectacular views of the grounds. Being an art aficionado, I enjoyed perusing the decorative touches throughout the house, including pottery, shell leis, koa (a native wood) furniture, framed Hawaiian sheet music, and models of two mid-1800s schooners and a double-hulled Hawaiian sailing canoe. The eclectic selection of books will intrigue bibliophiles, among them “Animal Architecture,” “Medical Diseases for Nurses,” “The Fortunes of Captain Blood” and “Feathers: Displays of Brilliant Plumage.”
Peaceful and private, Haiku House is reserved in its entirety — accommodating up to 20 guests, it’s a great choice for clients planning a family reunion, a corporate retreat, a getaway with friends or a romantic, intimate escape for two. There are lovely gathering spots for groups large and small: a gazebo; a heated pool; a screened-in lanai; a patio with a firepit; a treehouse (kids will love its eight-foot slide); an arboretum with more than 100 varieties of trees, plants and flowers; and an alfresco “chapel,” a large wooden platform beneath a banyan tree that was used for church services when Crystal Cathedral owned the property.
Visits can be customized for clients, as well.
“For example, we’ve arranged picnics, barbecues and candlelit dinners prepared by a caterer or a private chef for some guests,” said Ikaika Enos, the property’s estate manager, whose maternal great-grandfather, Dionisio Fernandez, worked at Haiku House as a landscaper in the Baldwins’ employ during the 1930s. “Others prefer to be hands-on. They’ll shop or sign up for a grocery delivery service and cook for themselves in our fully equipped kitchen.”
Clients interested in strolling through the adjoining 20-acre orchard and garden can do so accompanied by the on-site gardener. I was amazed at the abundance of fruits, veggies and herbs: orange, papaya, lemon, lime, avocado, kale, rainbow chard, green onion, cherry tomato, apple banana, rosemary, basil, thyme and much more all grow here.
“It’s an opportunity for guests to explore and learn about the bounty the land produces,” Enos said. “They can make a salad from ingredients they pick or create an arrangement from the many flowers that bloom here, including ginger, hibiscus, heliconia, dahlia, plumeria and bird of paradise. Our gardener will point out what crops and flowers are ready to be harvested.”
Personalized itineraries for clients can combine on-site spa treatments and yoga classes with off-site adventures such as spearfishing, helicopter tours and rappelling down a waterfall. The majestic humpbacks start returning to Hawaiian waters in November, and whale-watching cruises are a thrilling option through April.
“Activities depend on our guests’ budget, desires, safety and potential impact on the property,” Enos said. “Haiku House is their home away from home while they’re on Maui, and we’re happy to do whatever we can to make that experience memorable.”
Haiku House Maui