Barony de Princeville
During King Kaumualii’s absence from Kauai, European land barons took over the task of actually ruling the island. One of the more prominent plantation owners was Crichton Wylie, a Scotsman, who had turned sail to Hawaii after becoming disenchanted with New Zealand. The stories say he hadn’t planned to stay, but King Kamehameha appointed him minister of foreign affairs for the kingdom of Hawaii. He eventually purchased most of the Hanalei Bay area and raised sugar cane and coffee and built a large sugar mill and a beautiful plantation estate.
Hawai`i’s last true prince and most beloved of all Hawaiian ali`i, Albert, the son of Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma, visited Mr. Wylie at his estate when he was two years old. Following his visit, Wylie named the plantation the ‘Barony de Princeville" in honor of the child. Tragically, the child died at the tender age of four, and the grieving king died a year later.
Soon after, Mr. Wylie passed away, leaving a plantation deeply in debt and dream forsaken. In time, Princeville was divided and sold and worked as a sugarcane and cattle ranch until the late sixties when the first group of investors had the idea to develop this stunning plateau into a world class resort.
In 1985, the Sheraton Princeville opened shortly following the completion of the Princeville Resort and Makai golf courses. An ownership change in 1987 included plans to upgrade the hotel to a luxury five-star resort. But another change of ownership in 1990 and the effects of hurricane Iniki in 1992, delayed Princeville’s appearance on the coveted "Gold List" of Best Hotels in the World as selected by readers of Conde Nast magazines. It took over a year to restore the hotel and infuse it with the Hawaiian sensibilities it now reflects.
It’s probably fair to say that the history of this unique and stunning parcel of land called Princeville contributes as much to its value as the glorious natural wonders that surround it. Long recognized as a place of great spiritual power, or mana, it was a place rich with the Hawaiian staff of life, taro, and hala (pandanus), which provided the ancient civilization with essential materials for making everything from floor coverings to sails.
These days, it serves as a unique destination where travelers can restore not only their bodies, but their minds and spirits, while immersing themselves in the brilliant landscapes and the culture, history and heritage of fascinating characters, both historical and mythological, that make Hawaii and Kauai so utterly remarkable.