Mana Kai marks 40 years on Maui

Forty years ago, the Mana Kai Maui stood alone along Keawakapu Beach with kiawe trees for neighbors on undeveloped lands nearby.

It was a dream of the late Jim Christman, a United Airlines pilot who recognized that Maui was a new destination for pilots who frequently traveled with their families. UAL began flying to Maui in the mid-1960s. He and his wife, Helen, now also deceased, and a total of 25 investors – including other pilots – made the resort a reality.

In 1973, the eight-story building opened and still exists today.

Over the weekend, the resort’s hotel and homeowners association held its annual meetings but took time to celebrate the resort’s 40th anniversary with a special dinner, excursion and golf. A display in the hotel lobby showed the evolution of the property. Linda Kline, the Christmans’ daughter, also put together an anniversary booklet to commemorate the milestone.

Mana Kai Maui is made up of 98 two-bedroom condominiums located at the southern end of South Kihei Road, near the entrance to Wailea.

The hotel staff said that each year generations of visitors return to be greeted by name.

There are 26 staff members at the Mana Kai. Each has between 15 and 26 years of experience with the resort.

The Mana Kai resort operates 50 units as a hotel. Condo owners are free to rent their units individually or with rental agencies.

All the hotel units were sold before construction began. Included in the unit purchase price was a 1973 Ford Maverick.

The groundbreaking of the hotel was done with an authentic luau, with attendees including attorney Meyer Ueoka, a prominent local businessman, and the late Donald Tokunaga and the late Douglas Sodetani.

The Mana Kai today is home to the Five Palms Restaurant, Zacks Deli & General Store, Island Style Activities, Surf Shack and Maui Yoga Path.