In Hawaiian, there is a specific word for taking responsibility: kuleana. It is a word that Erin Gushman uses to describe the philosophy of The Club at Kukui’ula in Poipu, Kauai.
“When we care for the land, the land cares for us,” she says. “It’s an ingrained way of life for us, it’s not some kitschy fad.”
As a Kauai native (and as senior communications manager and real estate sales executive at Kukui’ula), Gushman has a deep-seated appreciation for the land—and as she tours around the property, it is clear that it’s echoed in every aspect of this special place.
The Club at Kukui’ula is a luxurious residential resort in Kauai’s sunny south. Most of the accommodations here are owned homes, but there are a few exclusive rental options for visitors looking beyond the traditional hotel experience. Along the idyllic tree-lined entrance to The Club, The Lodge at Kukui’ula features beautiful villas and bungalows with multiple bedrooms, full kitchens, living areas, and outdoor showers. The plantation-style cottage option is especially inviting, with papaya trees right outside the front door and a screened-in lanai that offers the Hawaiian warmth with protection from the sun.
The onsite amenities here, from the pools and the spa to the restaurants and activities, are only available to renters, members, and their guests. “It creates a more intimate and customized experience,” Gushman explains. “Kukui’ula is a place where families come together.” Staring out from The Clubhouse onto the expansive and immaculately manicured green lawns, it is easy to see the truth in her words. The ocean crashes down on the shore as tall palms sway in the gentle wind, and a sense of calm washes over tired travellers.
There are a few restaurant options on offer at The Clubhouse, including Makai Grill + Bar located next to a beautiful saltwater pool carved out of the grass. Overlooking the water, indulge in a mandatory mai tai and flavourful fried cauliflower with hummus, followed perhaps by a local chicken rice bowl with vegetables from the onsite farm. A whopping sixty per cent of the food served in these restaurants is grown at Kukui’ula’s 10-acre organic farm; there’s a hillside of citrus trees, and even a section dedicated to superfoods. “They’re not beholden to anybody in terms of what to grow and how much,” Gushman says of the farming team. Best of all, guests and residents can make the short bike or hike up to the farm to pick as much fresh produce as they want for their own meals.
That emphasis on wellness is felt throughout the property, from the free daily fitness classes to the Tom Weiskopf-designed 18-hole golf course. And that is not even to mention the Hi’ilani Spa, which is the perfect place to relax after lunch, whether a massage is booked or not (though a massage should indeed be booked).
Come nightfall, don’t be alarmed by the lack of streetlights around the property—that was a conscious decision by The Club to produce as little light pollution as possible. “We are literally trying to preserve the night sky,” Gushman affirms. “It’s maintaining a sense of place and embracing a sense of place.” That Hawaiian terroir roots Kukui’ula in everything it does; more than a word, kuleana is a guiding principle.