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March 30, 2010

Oahu’s Sullivan Estate

Sullivan Estate is the kind of sprawling compound that could have easily been turned into a boutique hotel to accommodate dozens of guests at once. Fortunately its owners didn't do that, and now this five-acre swath containing a six-bedroom mansion and a smattering of satellite cabanas perched high above the beaches of Oahu's rural North Shore is rented to just one party at a time, rendering its guests the masters of perhaps the most impressive domain in all of Hawaii. Since 2001 celebrities and dignitaries have been flocking to this fabled estate, which was built in the sixties as one of many residences for Maurice J. Sullivan, the state's late supermarket magnate and philanthropist. But last year it became a true luxury experience when management brought in spa specialists, fitness instructors, and other lavish touches, such as pre-arrival grocery shopping. Now the house is continually stocked with fresh flowers and local gourmet coffees, and management will orchestrate anything from helicopter tours to dinner reservations to chauffeur service into Honolulu.

The impeccably manicured property, which underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation two years ago, sits 45 minutes north of Honolulu, the perfect compromise for those seek- ing some distance—but not too much—from the bustle of the city. Out here the most activity you'll see is the frolicking of humpback whales in Waimea Bay, visible from several look-out decks sprinkled throughout the grounds. Beyond the lava walls and wrought-iron gates, brick pathways leading from the main house meander past beautiful fountains and waterfalls.

It's clear that the current owners (Jurgen Klein, founder of the Jurlique beauty line, and his wife, Karin Sole-Klein) wanted to emphasize wellness with the recent update. A yoga and meditation room now fronts the Pacific Ocean, a classical Finnish sauna and steam room sit beside a cold plunge pool, and two gyms are outfitted with Precor exercise equipment. The couple also brought in a Galileo machine from Germany (the kind used by Lance Armstrong), which increases muscle tone by issuing subtle vibrations to the entire body. Inside the spa cabana, elegantly designed with bamboo, a full menu of treatments is offered, including facials, body wraps, and massages. The state-of-the-art, one-person hydro tub is another blissful experience: Computer-controlled water pulses through air jets in various patterns to create different massage therapies.

What's most impressive, though, is how the place combines the extravagant (1,500-thread-count sheets, sleek granite countertops) with the environmentally sensible. The main house, for instance, has dark oak floors and a living room with a beautiful vaulted ceiling and exposed wood beams—but there are also more than 3,500 photovoltaic tiles covering its roof, which generate 50,000 watts of peak solar energy, making Sullivan the largest residential solar project in Hawaii. "Our chlorine-free pool and twelve-person Jacuzzi are both salt water, we recycle every day, and our household cleaners are natural and biodegradable," says Mariana Ferriero, who is in charge of guest services. "We have made this paradise a sustainable one." From $5,900 per night; 808-638-7020; sullivanestate.com.