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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Maui Land, Miraval drop joint venture

By Andrew Gomes
Advertiser Staff Writer

Maui Land & Pineapple Co. has ended a planned partnership with an upscale Arizona spa resort to develop and manage health and wellness activities built around a condominium hotel at Kapalua Resort, but will proceed with the project alone.

Tucson-based Miraval Holding LLC and the master developer of Kapalua Resort yesterday announced that they have ceased negotiations to form their planned joint venture announced in September.

The two companies, which are both majority owned by America Online co-founder Steve Case, cited disagreements over facility locations and profitability as reasons they opted not to go forward with the development partnership.

David Cole, Maui Land chairman and chief executive, said negotiations broke down primarily over where to locate the facilities within Kapalua.

Harley Mayersohn, vice president of branding and marketing for Miraval, said another factor was Miraval's projection that the depth of the market isn't sufficient to make the more than $100 million project financially viable.

"If all the stars were aligned perfectly, it might have worked," Mayersohn said. "It's still a beautiful site."

Cole, however, said Maui Land subsidiary Kapalua Land Co. will develop and manage the project itself. "We're definitely proceeding with this," he said. "The project is proceeding as planned, but without Miraval at this time."

Planning and design work is largely complete, and construction should begin next year with elements envisioned in the joint-venture plan — a 125-unit luxury hotel condo villa, oceanside spa, mountain adventure center and a wellness and personal development center, Cole said.

The project would have been the first expansion for Miraval outside of Arizona where the company in late 1995 opened a resort that has been recognized by several travel industry publications as one of the best spas in the world.

Miraval had planned on the Maui project to be a focal point of an ambitious expansion plan for the company, which is now exploring growth opportunities on the East Coast of the Mainland and Mexico.

Reach Andrew Gomes at agomes@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8065.