Last week I had the opportunity to preview the Waikii Ranch Big Island equestrian estate that is set to be auctioned on January 15th. My clients own ranch and equestrian facilities elsewhere and so they – and I – were focused on the suitability of the property for horses, and on how it compares with other currently available Big Island options.
Photo showing the main house of the Waikii Ranch equestrian estate being sold January 15, 2015 (MLS# 263378)
Note that one of my Hawaii Life colleagues has already summarized the basic property information. The diligent researcher could also find a number of earlier blog posts mentioning the property, like this one I wrote a couple of years ago about Big Island Properties with Equestrian Facilities.
My conclusion in the 2012 post was that this estate “would be a waste for a buyer without appreciation for its extensive facilities: a 9,087 sq.ft. seven stall stable, a covered riding arena, lighted for use at night, and a 3,480 sq.ft. tractor barn.” After a careful look last week, that opinion hasn’t changed.
Horse Facilities For the Serious Equestrian
Going back over the list of facilities, at first “9,087 sq.ft.” and only “seven stalls” seems like it must be a typo. However, once you get to the barn, it all makes sense.
View from courtyard side of barn showing second floor quarters and stall doors; stalls open to shared turnout behind
Each of the stalls is at least 20′ X 20′, comfortable for warmbloods or drafts, or even a mare with a new foal. There are doors on both sides, one off the central courtyard and the other opening to a shared turnout, from which gates lead to the larger paddocks.
The glossy brochure (also available digitally if you want) refers to “1 extra large stall for foaling.” What they are showing is next to a smaller unfinished room that they say was intended for a veterinary surgery. In fact, the large stall with a garage-style door makes sense for unloading a horse for surgery and doesn’t look at all like a foaling stall. Maybe we missed that one.
The barn is a two-story structure with a groom’s quarters upstairs. There are feed rooms, his and her tack rooms, office, electrical utility room, laundry room…way more than a seven stall barn.
Behind the horse barn is a “tractor barn.” Dream come true…the designer understood that backing a trailer in tight quarters is a nightmare and so this is what I might call a “trailer barn” where you can pull through, unhitch a good-size horse or stock trailer or two, and drive out the other side. Or store your horse carriages here. Another section of this barn is set up for farm equipment and a shop.
From there we got to the arena. Big enough to comfortably canter those big warmbloods over jumps (put a rail along the top of the fence to protect your shin from close encounters) or hook up a carriage to your team of Fresians for driving practice. Best of all the footing is sand – maybe a bit deep for some tastes, and bits of the base seem to be percolating through, but proper arena footing and an overhead sprinkler system for dust control.
Other Horse Properties For Sale – Kohala Ranch Summit
The prospective buyer interested in the Waikii Ranch auction property (I have a hard time choking out the newly coined name “Hale Mehana” as everyone refers to the estate by the current owner’s name) would want to look at other horse properties to see how they compare in terms of price and features.
This distinctive horse property is familiar to anyone driving through Kohala Ranch’s Summit section
The active listing that was attracting most attention from my equestrian buyers prior to the auction announcement is the property at the Summit of Kohala Ranch listed for $4,650,000 (MLS# 277148). This one goes locally by the original owner’s name, which is mentioned in the listing text so let’s just call this one the Gentry estate.
Despite being billed as the island’s top horse properties, the two estates are configured very differently. From the standpoint of human occupants, the Waikii Ranch auction property has a 4-bedroom main house and 1-bedroom guest cottage (not counting sleeping quarters above the barn). The Kohala Ranch Gentry estate has three separate dwellings, each with two or three bedrooms for a total of seven beds.
But since our focus here is on the equestrian facilities, let’s look at that.
In addition to an actual tack room in the barn, these stalls each have a built-in tack locker
Starting with the barn, there are 13 stalls at Kohala Ranch, but they are configured more for a boarding operation than for a single owner of performance (or just beloved) horses. Standard sized stalls, each with a locker taking away part of the occupant’s space. Horses need to be led out of the barn for turnout.
Beautiful indoor…but if you hop the fence, you risk injury from the hardened footing surface
Then we have the indoor arena. Generously sized and also with a covered viewing area, the main problem here is the footing. A local experiment, the material has turned rock hard. Perhaps it could be removed, perhaps used as a sub-base and new footing installed over it. In either case, there will be an expense to make the facility usable again.
The other issue for the serious equestrian in comparison with the Waikii auction property, is that this Kohala Ranch property has not been laid out with entry and exit of horse trailers in mind. A small trailer could probably turn around, but a large trailer might have to unload right on Kohala Ranch Road.
Waikii Ranch – Alternative Properties For Sale
Don’t forget that, in my opinion, Waikii Ranch is the only true equestrian community on the Big Island. Miles of riding trails, plus the community arenas and polo grounds, mean you have other horse owners and access to trainers within the community. Although Kohala Ranch theoretically has riding trails circling the extensive acreage and an area designated for a polo field, there really are not community facilities, and the riding trails are strewn with lava rocks and much of them steep descents and ascents.
The Summit area where the Gentry property is situated has a similar elevation and rainfall to Waikii Ranch, so is the only area within Kohala Ranch where horses can graze on pasture. Keep in mind that both gated communities have private water supplies, which are more expensive than County water. Both properties consist of multiple parcels, and are thus entitled to additional meters. [Contact me directly for operating costs for the two properties].
Another Waikii Ranch home with similar aesthetics and quality construction if Hale Mehana is more than you need
If the Hale Mehana property is more than you are looking for (or if you need a second choice in case you are not the successful bidder on it), there are other Waikii Ranch properties that would be perfect for most horse owners. My favorite listing is similarly a custom cedar timber-frame home with separate guest house and barn, just a smaller scale (MLS# 268583). If you don’t need an arena, this begins to look like a steal at $1,750,000. It’s only 10 acres, but the adjacent lot could also be available.
A hui hou,
Beth Thoma Robinson