Story by Julia Steele
Photo courtesy Lumeria
When Xorin Balbes first laid eyes on the building that would become Lumeria Maui, the place was a wreck. One of the oldest wooden structures on the Valley Isle, the twenty-three thousand-square-foot building had been constructed in 1910 as the Fred Baldwin Memorial Home. It spent its first decades in that incarnation, then morphed into a military barracks during World War II, a student dorm for a nearby college in the ’50s and ’60s and finally a dwelling for workers picking pineapple for Maui Land & Pineapple Company. By the time Xorin showed up, the roofs, walls and floors were riddled with dry rot, and there were rats and birds nesting in the nine-foot-tall attics.
But Xorin was not deterred. Far from it. An LA designer whose company, Temple Home, specializes in architectural transformation, he saw the beauty in the century-old structure (the building was, after all, designed by Maui’s most noted architect at the time, Henry Livingston Kerr). And he saw the potential to remake it into a sanctuary and retreat center par excellence. Less than two years later, that’s just what he and partner Jason Workman have done. They sank millions into the project, and when they were finished, statuary and gardens filled the once-barren grounds, and the building had been so flawlessly restored that it was promptly placed on both the State and National Registers of Historic Places and won a Preservation Honor Award from the Historic Hawai‘i Foundation.
After a few false starts with the name, Xorin settled on Lumeria Maui, and it has just opened as his envisioned retreat center, with yoga classes, meditation sessions and lectures. The twenty-four rooms that once housed retirees, soldiers, students and field hands are now for guests, with luxe beds and swanky showers—but with their original tongue-and-groove wood walls, twelve-foot ceilings and large windows that open to calm vistas of Maui, the rooms retain a sense of the era in which they were first built. “I love the sense of community space here,” says Xorin as he gazes out on the large courtyard that the building surrounds. “It’s an amazing feeling to know that this building has another hundred years of life in it.”