PLANTATION MANAGER'S BEACH HOUSE
Kailua-Kona, on the leeward side of the Island, was hours away from Hamakua, where Robbie Robertson was the Plantation Manager. Getting to Kailua from Hamakua required travel over rough roads that were only one lane wide. The little fishing town of Kailua boasted a pier, an ice house, a gas station, two stores, the Kona Inn and Hulihe'e Palace. The seven mile long Government Road (now Ali'i Drive) ran along the coast from Kailua to Keauhou Bay. There were perhaps ten houses along that road. There was no electricity, no telephones, no sewer, no public water supply. In the aftermath of WWII, building materials were almost impossible to come by.
William (Robbie) and Marjorie Robertson were looking for a place where Robbie could enjoy a respite from the stress of managing a sugar plantation in Pa'auilo on the Hamakua Coast. They chose a lovely site south of Kailua, with three beaches and next to a sheltered lagoon, teeming with small fish and other sea life, where their son Ian could learn to swim and snorkel.
In 1946 a huge tsunami inundated the Hamakua Coast. The tsunami destroyed some of the railroad bridges that had spanned the gulches and Robbie had the foresight to purchase the redwood lumber of one of them for the house that they were planning to build in Kona. The architect modified the design so that it could be built with redwood posts and beams and be clad in redwood siding.
Robbie’s social reforms and mechanization of his plantation required a reservoir of men skilled in the construction industry. The plantation had a wealth of tradesmen who could build anything from scratch.
In 1947 there was a labor strike against the plantations. All work was stopped. The striking plantation workers picketed the manager’s house in Pa‘auilo. Robbie thought that this would be a good time to build his Kona house. He got permission from the owners of the plantation to hire some of the striking workers. Robbie hired his superintendents, David Kailimai, and Hiroshi Hiramoto to oversee the building of the house. David arranged for a Hawaiian kahu to perform the traditional blessing of the project. David’s crews put in the driveways, built the foundation, dug the well, put in the septic system, and installed the water storage tanks. Hiroshi’s carpenters erected the post and beam frame, installed the flooring, siding and canec interior walls and ceilings. All the doors windows, cabinets and mill work were handcrafted on site. In several months the house was completed.
The four bedroom home is built in the classic Hawaiian mauka – makai (mountain – ocean) fashion. It is one room deep with 10 foot high ceilings designed to capture the sea breeze during the day and the mountain air at night. Each room has cooling cross ventilation and a view of the ocean. The shady outdoor lanai provides extraordinary views of the ocean and the Kona Coast and has always been the perfect spot for morning coffee, evening cocktails and anytime comfort to settle down with a good book. Paintings by Robbie and friends hang on the walls. They brought some furniture from the Plantation Manager’s house in Pa‘auilo; other pieces are Marjorie’s heirlooms.
This is our place for rejuvenation. Sometimes it is just family and sometimes we have groups of friends, with some staying at the Seaside Zen Cottage next door. We play golf on one of the magnificent courses on the Island, fish, snorkel, and scuba dive. We take amazing hikes down the Waipio and Waimanu Valleys. The energetic among us join the runners on Ali‘i Drive and run the four miles to Keauhou, the finish line for the Ironman Triathlon. The less ambitious float in the lagoon and then enjoy a cocktail and watch for the green flash from the lanai. We often enjoy a simple meal on the lanai – something lean and healthy with organic greens, veggies and grilled fresh fish.
We are happy to be able to share our home with you, your families, and your friends. You, our wonderful guests, have enjoyed family reunions, beautiful weddings, honeymoons, and restful vacations. If you are new to us - WELCOME!