Story by Marti Rosenquist | Photography by Mark Ammen
At the top of Kapalua, in the West Maui Mountains, JoRene and Gunars Valkirs have carved out a slice of paradise. Their spacious residence has a full-time cook, a serious garden (with a devoted agricultural assistant), three rescued dogs and a haughty feline who reigns over the entire operation.
The path to creating their dream home started years ago, before Gunars and his partner sold the company they cofounded.
“We had been visiting Maui for years, for a week or two at a time,” Gunar recalls. “One year we rented a house in Kapalua and stayed for a month.”
“While watching the kite surfers in Oneloa Bay, Gunars got the notion he could live here,” adds JoRene. “When he said ‘I’d like to try that someday,’ I knew he was hooked.”
A few years later the couple purchased a three-and-a-half-acre lot in Kapalua’s Honolua Ridge; a few years after that, they began working on the place they now call home.
“We had a large property in San Diego,” Gunars explains, “so we wanted acreage. Honolua Ridge was one of the few places within a resort [on Maui] where you could get that.”
The pair hired Rick Ryniak to design their home. Before starting the plans, the Maui architect flew to San Diego and stayed with the couple for a long weekend.
“I was able to see how the Valkirs lived and learn what was important to them. They showed me pictures of a home whose pool was tucked inside the U-shape of the building. Water and their relationship to water were important,” says Ryniak.
“There’s nothing in this house that we sacrificed for resale value. A lot of people build with that in mind, but we have no intention of selling this house,” Gunars tells me.