When you visit Wailea today, you’ll quickly find that it is a resort town offering luxury condos, golf, and many other tourist treats along its well-known beaches. This wasn’t quite the original dream that developers had for the town. In fact, in the 1960s and 1970s, developers and local politicians envisioned creating Wailea as a balanced community that offered tourist attractions, cultural institutions, and housing for workers, all within a clean and understated area.
Well, that didn’t exactly happen…
The Birth of Wailea
Two great changes in 1959 paved the way for Wailea’s creation. Hawaii earned its statehood, and jet airline travel made it possible for mainland Americans to visit this exotic new state with its year-round perfect weather and beautiful beaches.
Leaders in Hawaii were very welcoming to the oncoming wave of tourists and all the spending cash they brought with them. On the island of Maui, a company called Grosvenor International was hired to develop a huge plot of property that would one day become Wailea.
The original plans developed by Grosvenor envisioned a beautiful and charming Hawaiian town known as “The City of Flowers.” Though the town was intended to cater primarily to tourists, Grosvenor wanted to create a “community” that provided housing for workers, included a museum, and supported a population of 50,000 (as opposed to the population of 6,000 in Wailea today). Grosvenor even proposed keeping cars out of Wailea, offering instead massive open spaces for walking and internal public transportation options.
The local politicians voted overwhelmingly in favor of it. Such a grand idea, however it wasn’t meant to be.
Why the City of Flowers Never Happened
The developers of Wailea decided to start the project with the construction of a golf course, which would later become Wailea’s Blue Course. The idea was for the course to start generating cash to help finance the rest of the project. Then, in the 1970s, the company that owned the land proposed the construction of several high-end condo complexes, the Wailea Ekahi, Elua, and Ekolu condos. The response was stunning. According to a fascinating article on the early days of Wailea in the Maui Time magzine, 1,200 buyers bid on just 148 units.
The landowners saw a fast and easy way to make a lot of cash, and the dream of a booming mixed-income community melted away into a laser-sharp focus on turning Wailea into an upscale resort paradise.
Take a look at the latest construction fly through aerial.
Today, Wailea is still a beautiful growing resort town, but it is a far cry from that simple-slow paced, community the city’s earliest fathers envisioned. More luxury condos continue to pop up along the bluffs and near the beach. Now you too can enjoy the fruits of this resort boom. When you come down to visit Maui, you can rent a gorgeous oceanfront or hillside condo in Wailea, mere blocks away from the beach! View our open rentals in Wailea today! (link to Wailea condos)