MONTAGE Kapalua Bay

On Sunday, The Residences at Kapalua Bay will launch as Montage Kapalua Bay, making it Maui’s newest resort. Its doors will open for the first time to the public for dining and accommodations.

It’s a soft opening, as the main restaurant, Cane & Canoe, is still under construction with a target date for late June.

The magnificent resort property that once was the site of Kapalua Bay Hotel will start its festivities by hosting the Grand Tasting on Friday, June 13, as the opener to the 33rd annual Kapalua Wine & Food Festival. It’s coming full circle, as this was the original home of what was then called the “Kapalua Wine Symposium.”

Some of us oldsters remember this place with fondness as the symposium presented wine legends, such as Robert Mondavi and Mike Grgich, and there were midnight swims in the bay.

“When I walk around here, I feel very privileged,” says Richard Holtzman, vice president and managing director of Montage Kapalua Bay. “This place has such a rich heritage, and I have personal ties. My father was president of Rock Resorts that built the original hotel.”

Holtzman, who previously ran hotels in Arizona and Colorado, and was president of the Kukui’ula luxury community of 1,000 acres on Kauai, says he abides by a cardinal rule of development.

“If you want to find the best spot on the lake, you go to the oldest pier. Well, this is the oldest pier.”

Besides being situated on one of the nicest sandy beaches and bays in the state, it’s got commanding views of Molokai and Lanai and the ocean waters.

The 24-acre Montage Kapalua Bay will feature 50 intimate residential-style suites and 56 Montage branded residences, all with spacious living rooms, large private lanais, fully-equipped gourmet kitchens with sub- zero fridges, elegant master bedrooms and luxurious bathrooms that reflect the resort’s Hawaiian heritage.

Overlooking picturesque Kapalua Bay, the resort has a multitiered lagoon pool, which cascades toward the sea. Kamaaina rates will be available from Sunday through Nov. 20.

As for dining, it’s a new breed of Hawaii Regional Cuisine.

“Our dining outlets are the Sunset Patio for breakfast, lunch and dinner and the Hana Hou Bar,” says Montage’s Executive Chef Riko Bartolome. “We’ll offer in-suite dining for our guests. As for the Cliff House, my plans are to do intimate sit-down dinners that are interactive where we cook and plate it in front of you.”

As far as the signature Cane & Canoe that is targeted to open in late June, Bartolome will pay respect to local products by serving ulu, or breadfruit, hummus on Molokai sweet bread flat bread for a starter.

“We’ll pay respect to the canoe crops. We want to be a little different than everybody else – give people a reason to get excited when they dine here.”

As for the Grand Tasting, it will be on the oceanfront lawn right above the Cliff House, which was acquired by Montage for private parties.

Food and wine stations will be scattered about, and entertainment will be provided by ukulele sensation Aidan James.

“Each of the food booths will be paired with a beverage station,” says Bartolome. “Maui Brewing Co. will also be there, taking over our Hana Hou bar by the pool, right in the main artery of the event.”

Besides Montage’s culinary team, other participating chefs will come from Kai Sushi Bar and The Terrace at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua; Plantation House; Pineapple Grill; and Merriman’s Kapalua; along with a big representation from New Zealand (see Side Orders on Page 20).

“We’ll be doing three items that will be featured at the hotel,” says Bartolome. “One cold item: Keahole lobster panna cotta on panzanella or bread salad; one hot sea urchin and crab arancini (rice balls) with pickled pina and fennel salad with roasted Maui onion and olive oil.

“And for our dessert, we’ll do chili-pepper chocolate mousse with hazelnut, streusel and clear chili sauce.”

Merriman’s will make Kauai prawns a la plancha on polenta; and Waialua chocolate pot de creme. Plantation House will make shrimp and Portuguese sausage etouffee and Kula strawberry and tomato gazpacho with feta and hazelnuts.

Pineapple Grill will braise Asian short ribs and serve ahi sashimi with lilikoi shave ice and kaffir lime pearls. The Ritz will be puttin’ on seared sea scallops with candied bacon in brown butter; and curry-cumin lamb burger with local goat cheese. Its Kai Sushi will serve hamachi tartare in citrus ponzu and kalbi filet with Maui onion tempura and pickled vegetables.

Fine New Zealand wines will flow. Sip selections from Craggy Range, Babich, Matua, Mt. Beautiful, Villa Maria, Fromm, Omaka, Yealands, Pyramid Valley, Mishas Vineyard and others.

Brent Martin, Executive Chef of Andaz Maui at Wailea and a native of Wellington, will be on hand serving his gourmet take on his country’s products.

Top American wines will be Justin, Peju, Scherrer and Pisoni, and you’ll find gems like Lutum, Leonetti and Cirq, the new label from Kosta Browne – all at Maui’s newest luxury resort property.