John and Linda Stobart are selling a RM29.6m house on Maui
By JAMES TARMY
IN 2009, Linda Stobart and her husband John, then an executive at BHP Billiton Petroleum, decided to build a vacation home on Maui.
“My initial foray to Maui was on the west side of the island and I just couldn’t fathom what people saw in it, to be honest,” she says. “But then we drove across the top to the north shore, through the town of Pa’ia, and just went, ‘Wow’.”
The lush landscape, dramatic hills and sparkling beaches sealed the deal, and the couple, based in Houston at the time, purchased a 39-acre (0.4ha), triangular plot of land on a mountainside overlooking the ocean, closing in April 2010, according to Zillow.
They then set about building a compound that is “completely off the grid”, Stobart says. A 4,000 sq ft barn is covered with 96 photovoltaic panels. There’s a 60,000-gallon water catchment system and “a generator that kicks in if there’s a cloudy day”, she says.
The irony of an oil executive’s family living in a home fuelled by solar energy is not lost on Stobart, who says “we used to have some rather heated discussions about fracking at our dinner table” with their five children.
“But we all have a desire to do things differently,” Stobart says. “I know it’s not always possible, but this house manages to achieve it.”
The achievement is particularly notable because, in the middle of building the land, the family moved to Geneva, where Stobart’s husband became COO of Transocean Ltd, a provider of offshore oil and gas services.
“We sort of built it remotely,” Stobart says. “I was in Switzerland, interfacing back and forth.” The entire construction project, including permitting, took nearly six years. The house was completed in 2015; in 2017, after John retired, they began to use the home as a primary residence.
Three years later, they’ve put it on the market with Mino McLean and Sam Utley of Island Sotheby’s International Realty, for US$6.99 million (RM29.57 million).
“We want to create something else, in another part of the world,” Stobart says. “I guess it will be a bit sad to leave, but it’s a progression.”
When they bought the land, their first step was to build a 4,000 sq ft metal structure they called a “barn”. “The idea was that it was going to be the building where we harnessed all our energy,” Stobart says.
Water flows from the building’s solid metal roof into large cisterns built into the ground and the aforementioned solar panels channel electricity into lithium batteries that can power the compound to run at normal levels for two days.
The barn has a five-car garage, a two-bedroom apartment, a gym and a movement studio that Stobart, an instructor, uses for teaching. Currently, Stobart says, “the apartment is in a Swiss-style because I moved all our Swiss furniture out there”.
The Stobarts then enlisted the same builder to construct a five-bedroom, six-bathroom, 4,500 sq ft main house built with vertical concrete walls. “The feel is permanence and solidness,” Stobart says. (There’s an option to create a sixth bedroom from a room they use as a library).
Four of the bedrooms have Balinese- inspired outdoor showers so you can “bathe underneath the stars”, she says. “We did used to live in South-East Asia, so our house reflects that aesthetic.”
Every room’s ceiling heights run to at least 10ft, “and there are 8ft-tall, double glazed doors that fold out to let the outside in”, Stobart says.
The floors are made from a natural coral stone that’s used both inside and outside. “Footfall, when you’re in this house, is incredibly soft,” she says.
Outside, they built a saltwater pool that overlooks the ocean. They filled the terrace and interiors with furniture they’d collected over the years and shipped to the island. Having moved with her husband to jobs around the world, Stobart says, “We’re accustomed to shipping containers, believe me.”
The house is situated on a relatively flat piece of land overlooking a jungle that leads down to the ocean. It’s surrounded by about 21⁄2 acres of lawn, Stobart says, “and we cut these natural terraces into the terrain, which allows us to mow it without it being too steep”.
The garden, Stobart continues, “started out as a few sticks in the ground, but the verdancy here is incredible”. After what she says were a few “trials and errors”, the garden exploded. “Everything has just sprung forth.”
There are groves of bamboo, royal palms and a variety of native flowers. “The house is positioned north, so you get this dazzling sunrise and rubescent sunsets in the west,” says Stobart. “And then at night, we can see the Milky Way.”
The property is “incredibly luxurious, incredibly private and,” she continues, “when the mowing guy isn’t here, it’s deeply peaceful”. — Bloomberg