Celebrate a Legacy Honoree Christopher Bagwell Hemmeter
Perhaps no one created the idea of Hawai‘i as fantasy more vividly than Chris Hemmeter. After studying at Cornell University, Chris came to Hawai‘i work in a classic luxury hotel, the Royal Hawaiian. But Chris saw beyond the established standards of luxury and envisioned a new kind of resort with a “created environment” that would set a new standard for luxury. That was the dream, but Chris did more than dream. He was able to sell the dream to investors, who backed his projects and helped make them a reality. His first major Hawai‘i development was the $100 million Hyatt Regency Waikīkī. He built the Hyatt Regency Maui and Hyatt Regency Waikoloa as new developments and redeveloped the former Surf properties on Kaua‘i and Maui as Westin Resorts. With his success, he created his own development company, the Hemmeter Corporation, with its headquarters in the artfully renovated and historic Armed Forces YMCA building in Honolulu. That building is now known as Number One Capitol District.
The Hemmeter touch meant anything was possible to realize the fantasy. Trams and boats on artificial waterways provided guest transportation at the Hyatt Regency Waikioloa. Asian art, exotic birds and animals, and spectacular water features set his resorts apart from the ordinary. The development of the Waikoloa resort, on a barren lava field on the Big Island of Hawai‘i, proved that human creativity can transform the environment.
All this luxury and fantasy provided the guest with a unique experience … at a higher price. The development of these new resorts was instrumental in upgrading the image of Hawai‘i, helping to support a higher spending segment for the market.