Fairmont Kea Lani’s Distinctly Hawaiian Architecture

In Hawaiian, Kea Lani means “heavenly white”, an appropriate description of the Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui. Similar to the white plumeria, a striking flower commonly found along the Island’s shoreline and one of the resort’s inspirations, the Fairmont Kea Lani distinguishes itself quite notably even among its esteemed and architecturally pleasing peers. Many are surprised to learn that this remarkable resort reflects homage to traditional Hawaiian architectural influences.

A History of Inspiration

The resort opened in December of 1991, however, the conceptual design of the hotel began in 1986 with Jose Luis Ezquerra, an authority nonpareil in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean art, architecture and archeology.

The architect and his design team were enthusiastic about justifying the Kea Lani concept culturally and imbuing it with Hawaiian eccentricity. Indeed, before the first drafting pencil was lifted, priority one became getting to know their canvas. Ezquerra first turned to Donald Graham. A well-respected individual with a love for the Islands since 1943, Graham housed an extensive library on Hawaiʻi. He proved to be a valuable source of information.

“It is true that Kea Lani is an architectural descendant of Las Hadas,” confirms Ezquerra whose Manzanillo seaside property changed the face of international resort architecture. “However, the professional work of the project’s co-architect Francis Oda, Group 70 Honolulu was notable in the adaptation of the pragmatic, constructive and finishing realities of Hawaii.”

Royal Hawaiian Hotel

Royal Hawaiian Hotel” by Jasperdo is licensed under CC BY 2.0

As he interpreted Hawaiian architecture, Ezquerra sought a cultural link between the Kea Lani and two other native landmarks. He accomplished his goal with truly eye-opening results. The first was the architecture of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Built in 1927 on Hispano-Mexican and native models, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel is without doubt the heart and soul of Waikiki.

building with flags in front

“ʻIolani Palace” by Joel is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Ezquerra’s next choice was the ʻIolani Palace, now a museum in Honolulu. Neo-classical and white, it was built by King Kalakaua and carries the distinction of being the only royal palace in the United States. Several of Honolulu’s banks also share the same neo-classical themes and decorative elements quite typical of the Islands.

Other Stories You May Like

family holding hands and walking along the beach

9 Fun Ways to Spend a Rainy Day on Maui

While rain is considered a blessing in Hawaiʻi and is integral to supporting Maui’s tropical, lush landscapes and native ecosystem, it probably isn’t what you had in mind.
surf boards in a row

Things to Do on Maui’s North Shore

Maui’s North Shore has a down-home vibe. It’s a place with primo surfing and windsurfing, stunningly beautiful rock-and-sand beaches and relaxed small towns.
plates full of seafood

Things to Do in West Maui

Home to the island’s most renowned beaches, West Maui is a top global travel destination. Snorkel and walk family-friendly Kā‘anapali’s three-mile-long golden beach, and whale-watch from Pu‘u Keka‘a, or Black Rock, an ancient holy place.
a couple doing yoga on the beach

October 2022 Wellness Event

Join world renowned wellness, self-love teacher and best-selling author Shannon Kaiser for an empowering workshop for authentic living. Relax in luxury with Kerstin Florian International wellness self-care products which are also included.

Fairmont Kea Lani as Featured In Condé Nast Traveler

We are thrilled to announce that Fairmont Kea Lani has been featured in Condé Nast Traveler in addition to being nominated in the 2024 Condé Nast Traveler Readers' Choice Awards.

9 Reasons to Love Fairmont Kea Lani

Recent guests Lei‘ohu Ryder & Maydeen ‘Īao share their top reasons they enjoyed their stay at Fairmont Kea Lani.