The Boeddeker family dedicating the plaque to Waikoloa’s visionary in 2011.
The name Ron Boeddeker may not be as well known to resort guests as Bill Marriott, Conrad Hilton, or other titans of the leisure industry. But that is exactly how Ronald F. Boeddeker would have wanted it. He did not seek the spotlight, spoke to the media infrequently, and preferred to remain low-key and behind the scenes. Without Boeddeker‘s vision, though, Waikoloa Resort may never have happened. “My dad had a special gift,” says Cary Krukowski, Boeddeker’s daughter, who spent many months as a youngster living with her family on the Big Island while the resort was being developed. “He was the kind of visionary that doesn’t come along very often. He had no fear of failure, no boundaries to his vision. He was always looking to create something extraordinary.” Boeddeker first laid eyes on what today is Waikoloa Beach Resort in 1972. At the time, the land from makai to mauka (beach to inland) was not much more than vast lava fields as far as the eye could see.
But Boeddeker saw something more. “He took my mom to look at the property,” Krukowski tells. “‘Look at this land,’ he said to her. ‘Can’t you see golf courses and hotels?’ My mom looked around and said, ‘Are you crazy?’ All she could see was black lava and a beautiful ocean.” Not one to be easily dissuaded, Boeddeker persisted. Eventually he found others who saw the same potential in the land that he did, and were willing to invest. Early investors to the project included the Texas-based financiers the Bass brothers, hotel developer Chris Hemmeter, and Johnny Bellinger, the longtime powerful head of First Hawaiian Bank. “He’d run into all kinds of people who would say ‘No,’” Krukowski says. “But he had a way of making people believe in his vision.” One of the things that makes Waikoloa so unique is the resort’s support for the local community and for the Hawaiian culture. The music, dance, arts and crafts of Hawai`i are celebrated year-round throughout the resort. That directive came early on directly from Boeddeker, and is gladly adhered to today by every Waikoloa employee.
“My dad was very fond of the Hawaiian culture, and of the people of Hawai`i,” Krukowski says. “He embraced everything Hawaiian. He greatly respected the deep traditions of the islands, and loved the fact that the culture is so family oriented. He was very family oriented himself, and that gave him a strong bond with the people of Hawai`i.”
Boeddeker passed away in 2010 at 71 years of age. His family installed a plaque to his memory that guests pass on their way to the beach from the Waikoloa Beach Marriott. Krukowski says that is exactly where her dad would want to be. “Waikoloa is a beloved place to our family,” she says. “This is where my dad really started to dream big, and it is so gratifying to see this special place he envisioned more than 40 years ago become a world-class resort enjoyed by so many.”