Heaven on Earth: Zen-Like Lumeria Resort is Maui's Happy Place
By Sunnivie Brydum
Maui is a magical place. The island is known for reuniting old friends and having an uncanny ability to seep into your soul, whether you're watching the sun rise above the clouds atop Mount Haleakela, or silently meditating in a forest hammock overlooking the ocean.
It seems everywhere you go on the island, locals and tourists alike are eager to send a smile your way, say aloha, and engage in friendly conversation. In other words, it is the polar opposite of frenetic rat race I'd become accustomed to living in Los Angeles. And while the entire island evokes a certain peacefulness, those in search of true serenity will find no better haven than Lumeria on Maui. Lumeria's owner and creative director, Xorin Balbes, describes his 26,000 sq. ft. retreat as the perfect paradise for the "enlightened traveler."
From the moment I set foot onto Lumeria's six acres, nestled just two miles above the small but welcoming beach town of Pai'a, I felt a sense of calm wash over me. Lumeria's handsome main lodge beckons travel-weary passengers with its broad double doors, elevated ceilings peppered with decadent Moroccan light fixtures, and original dark wood frame that speaks to the site's long history on Maui's North Shore.
Lumeria's locale has a storied history on Maui — and exudes the serenity one would expect from a statuesque elder that has established itself as an institution on the island. Originally erected in 1909 as a convalescent home by sugar baron Henry Baldwin, the site is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, and was honored with a 2012 Preservation Award from the Historic Hawaii Foundation. As the Baldwin sugar empire faded in prominence, the property went through its own multi-dimensional transformation, serving as a college campus, a home for WWII veterans, and eventually, an over-populated dormitory for migrant pineapple workers.
When Balbes, a gay architect who also co-founded L.A.-based interior and architectural design firm TempleHome, first purchased the property in 2010, he says the site was in utter disrepair. But after a massive two-year renovation, and guided by Balbes' crystal clear vision to create a retreat that nourishes the body, mind, and spirit, Lumeria is nothing short of pure, regenerative magic.
After a five-hour flight from Los Angeles, and a 15-minute drive from Maui's Kahului Airport, I began my personal retreat in one of Lumeria's 24 simple, elegant private rooms. Complete with a palm-frond ceiling fan and impressively modern, minimalist stone showers and boutique amenities in the bathroom, I sprawled out on the soft, spacious four-poster queen bed and breathed in the cool island air from my open windows. Even this multimedia journalist who is generally glued to her smartphone didn't mind the lack of television in each room. I was eager to accept Lumeria's invitation to unplug — though for the sake of my deadlines, I was grateful for the free wifi available throughout the property.
As the sun set on my first day in Maui — the first time this Colorado native had been to any of the Hawaiian Islands — I emerged from my room ready to relax in the newly installed pool and hot tub. These aquatic retreats provided the perfect place to watch the sun set over the Pacific ocean, as they are situated near a corner of the property that overlooks Maui's endlessly scenic North Shore.