Heavenly Havens

A global firm known for reimagining paradise creates lush island idylls

VITA Planning and Landscape Architecture has been envisioning and creating luxury resorts and residential communities for almost 17 years. Among the number of high-end projects in Hawaii in the global firm’s portfolio include a duo of private beach and golf club communities on the Big Island, as well as a redo of a longtime Maui resort—all boasting classic and traditional cultural elements combined with a modern aesthetic. Think natural and site-appropriate environments dotted with touches of artistic expression.

“We’re extremely sensitive to the social, cultural and environmental scenario of every project,” says Nick Vita, who works alongside his father and founder, Don Vita, as chief operating officer of the San Francisco-based firm, which also completes projects throughout the Continental U.S. and Caribbean islands.

“What we shoot for, and feel is important, is that the landscape and the community doesn’t feel like it’s been designed, but it feels like it’s always been there. We have a passion for place and community and a reverence for the environment.”

The 450-acre private resort of Kohanaiki features a private Beach Club nestled among natural anchialine ponds and historic beach-front sites

Case in point: a pair of Big Island developments, where the firm is creating new environments to blend with the existing natural lava fields and shoreline, all while remaining sensitive to the fabric of the community. Hallmarks of the 700-acre Kukio Beach and Golf Club on the North Kona Coast include preserved shoreline ponds, archaeological sites and parks, and a pedestrian/golf cart trail network that allows homeowners to walk barefoot from their backyards to the beach area.

Meanwhile, at the 450-acre private resort of Kohanaiki, VITA has been working to deliver the Rees Jones golf course, public park along the 1.5-mile shoreline and private Beach Club nestled among natural anchialine ponds and historic beach-front sites. The firm also recently completed work on downtown Honolulu’s Park Lane Ala Moana—a 7.3-acre community featuring eight residential buildings enveloped by lush, tropical landscaping and courtyards—and currently is helping revamp the popular Makena resort in Maui, complete with a 72,000-square-foot Beach Club organized around a central courtyard water garden.

“We’re well-known for bringing the most to any given project based on the natural limits we have to work with,” says Vita. “In addition to that, we have a very sound and holistic understanding of the real estate business and a passion for art. When you marry these four aspects together—culture, art, environment and business—we’ve found a community endures. In doing this, we’ve strived to help the luxury market experience the soul of Hawaii in an authentic way.”

Written by Wendy Bowman
Photographs: courtesy of VITA Planning and Landscape Architecture

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