By Stuart J. Faber
After Maui emerged from the sea, it took more than two million years before Mr. Hemmeter came along with the vision to develop the Hyatt Regency on Maui. Two million years prior to his arrival, a volcano rose from the depths of the ocean and spread its lava above the level of the waves. For centuries, the surface of the new island was perhaps too hot, for it wasn’t until about 450 AD when the first Polynesian explorers from the Marquesas Islands walked across Hawaiian soil. Colonists from Tahiti followed. A secession of Maui kings ruled during the 14th and 15th centuries–none of whom came up with the idea of a mega-resort. In the late 18th century, Captain James Cook of England cruised around the Hawaiian Islands but never ventured onto Maui. A few years later, Captain Jean-Francois de Galaup, Compte de La Perouse is said to be the first European to step ashore on Maui. His name would have been too lengthy to sign in on a hotel register–or obtain financing for a resort.
Down the road to the south is Wailea Beach. In ancient times, Hawaiians lived on the slopes, fished, and grew sweet potatoes. During WWII, the shores served as a training area for the Marines.
In 1959, Hawaii became the 50th state. In the early 1970s, the visionary developer, Christopher Hemmeter, took a look at Kaanapali and decided that resorts could generate more revenue than sweet potatoes. He developed a number of hotels, including the venerable Hyatt Regency Resort and Spa.