The Hawaiian tradition of storytelling is alive and well with longtime resident Kevin “Sparky” Brooks. His life story is a collection of traveler’s tales, living the good life one minute and coming back to earth with a bump the next. But that’s OK with him – no risk, no reward. Lahaina Dream, the 6 bedroom, 6 1/2 bathroom house he designed and built, nestled between the West Maui mountains and the ocean, is the end result of his many adventures, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
The house is a relaxing haven with spectacular 3-island ocean views overlooking the beautiful Launiupoko beach (the name, Lahaina Dream, was suggested by a friend who once remarked that visiting the place was like a dream). How Sparky and his wife Linda ended up there is quite a story, one that he’s more than happy to share. Like all good stories, it’s starts with romance. “I fell madly in love, ” says Sparky, a Boston native. He was planning a vacation to Florida with the idea of moving his real estate and construction business there when his then-girlfriend Linda suggested they go to Hawaii instead. “I said, ‘sure darling, anywhere you wanna go,’” remembers Sparky. “I was crazy about her, and I still am!”
A few weeks later the pair flew to Kaua’i, where Sparky stumbled across a real estate opportunity that was too good to miss, so they decided to up sticks and move the 5,000 miles from Boston to Hawaii. 8 months later the pair found themselves on Kaua’i, in a house half finished with no electricity, no doors and no kitchen, on a plot of land that was zoned for 13 houses. Most people would be fazed by this, but not Sparky and Linda. “I scored big time!” laughs Sparky about his wife’s willingness to jump into his real estate dream wholeheartedly.
Just as the couple were settling into life on Kaua’i, running a small bed and breakfast and seeking development permits, disaster struck. In September 1992, the island was hit by hurricane Iniki, the most powerful hurricane in Hawaiian history. Over 1,400 houses were destroyed and 5,000 damaged, but Sparky and Linda’s house weathered the storm, thanks to his quick thinking, boarding up all the windows with plywood. “The key is keeping the roof on,” he explains, “if the windows break then the house is flooded with water and the wind takes the roof off.”
After the hurricane, the island shut down. There was no electricity for most of the island, and no running water for many. Sensing an opportunity, the irrepressible Sparky reinvented himself as an insurance adjuster, helping his fellow islanders get better settlements from the insurance companies by day, and writing up the estimates by kerosene lamp at night. He says for years afterwards people came up to him on Kaua’i and thanked him for his assistance in the months following the hurricane.
“We’d been on Maui three weeks when I was offered a job in St Martin, so we went! We lived on a cliff top overlooking Cupecoy beach, it was great. A crazy adventure”
Once the island began to return to normal life, Sparky and Linda started a new venture, in the vacation ownership business, which took them to Kaua’i, Oahu, Maui, and the Caribbean island of St Martin. “That’s a whole other story,” laughs Sparky. “We’d been on Maui three weeks when I was offered a job in St Martin, so we went! We lived on a cliff top overlooking Cupecoy beach, it was great. A crazy adventure.” Eventually, after more than a decade of island-hopping, the couple settled on Maui. Once they were established Sparky started to dream of building a custom home. “There was a place I used to admire called Launiupoko,” says Sparky, “I loved how spectacular the 180 degree ocean views were.” He did a little digging and found out there was land available. “I was looking at buying two acres, but then I saw there were five acre parcels too,” remembers Sparky. Then he found out there were fifteen acre parcels available. Or as Sparky explains it, “Five acres is cool, but fifteen acres is cooler.” He bought the fifteen acres and started sketching out his dream house.
The finished home is a 6,000 sq foot building that seems to invite the outside in, and indeed features almost 2,000 sq feet of covered lanai. Much of the furniture is bamboo, hand carved in Hawaii. “I wanted to bring as much Hawaiian and Asian atmosphere as possible into the design,” says Sparky. Everywhere you look there are unusual touches, such as the hand-made glass sinks in several of the bathrooms. The exquisite green stone used for the kitchen countertops is Costa Esmerelda granite from Brazil, and the green theme is carried through to the glazed amazonian roof tiles, also from Brazil. The interior is dotted with imported artefacts from Sparky’s many travels across Asia, North Africa, Central America and Europe with Linda and his son Ryan. As Sparky explains, bringing home these pieces can be a challenge. “Ryan and I were in Burma last year,” he says, “and I wanted to bring back this large hand-carved wooden Buddhist goddess. We had 10 different flights to take to get from northern Burma to Hawaii, and I had to talk my way through security carrying the goddess every time. They all wanted to confiscate my goddess. I said, ‘No way!’”
With it’s eclectic combination of Hawaiian and Asian influences, Lahaina Dream feels relaxed and well-travelled, just like its owner. But if you do get the urge to venture beyond the four walls of the house, there’s more than enough Maui activities to keep even the most adventurous traveler occupied. There’s great surfing on the beach right below the house, and the family-friendly Kaanapali Beach is just a 10 minute drive away. Several challenging hiking trails can be found in the mountains and valley just behind the house, and if you like music, “Mick Fleetwood has a great rock and roll club in Lahaina,” says Sparky. “Last week he, Steve Tyler and Willy Nelson had an impromptu jam session there. Very cool!”
As for Sparky and Linda, they are still very much in love, with each other, and their adopted homeland of Maui. Maybe one day they’ll share the Aloha spirit with you too.
Find out more about Lahaina Dream, Maui