Born and raised in the Islands, innkeepers Janice and Tom Fairbanks’ understanding of old Hawai‘i’s charm is second nature. “I rode in my mom’s stomach on the final passenger trip of the O‘ahu Railway in 1947,” relates Tom, “and I was 13 when I got my first pair of shoes.” That nostalgic sense combined with the couple’s wide-ranging hospitality industry experience makes it easy to recognize the Old Wailuku Inn at Ulupono is a natural progression for them.
Tom’s food & beverage experience began when he was fifteen, selling burgers and shave ice from a lunch wagon in what is now Hawai‘i Kai. He got his first hotel job a year later. When he came to Maui’s Royal Lahaina Resort in 1971 from the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Honolulu, he met Janice who had already been working in the hotel’s seafood restaurant for several years.
A few years later, the now-married couple moved to O‘ahu where Tom joined the opening team of Hyatt Regency Waikīkī and Janice started a career in banking. And then back to Maui where Tom opened the Maui Inter-Continental Wailea and Janice continued working for First Hawaiian Bank. In 1980, with two small children in tow, the Fairbanks’ moved to Ithaca, New York where Tom received a Master’s of Professional Studies Degree in Hotel Administration from Cornell University’s prestigious program in 1982.
For the next six years, the family crisscrossed the Southeast and West as Tom opened hotels for the Inter-Continental chain in his position of Food & Beverage Director. Janice, in the meantime, took on the most important job of all – raising their children. But this was also the period during which she developed her knowledge of remodeling and decorating as the family moved from one “fixer-upper” to the next.
Her experience really paid off when she became full-time project manager for the biggest fixer-upper of all, The Old Wailuku Inn at Ulupono. Happily, the Fairbanks were able to return home to Maui in 1988 where Tom served as the Maui Inter-Continental’s Food & Beverage Director for four years. Janice began working for Imua Rehab, a non-profit social services agency where she eventually became Executive Director. In 1992, Tom joined the Kā‘anapali Beach Hotel, “Maui’s Most Hawaiian Hotel,” as its Food & Beverage Director and retired in 2015.
In 2006, daughter Shelly Harris joined the “family business” after almost two decades in retail and retail management. It is often her cheerful voice that greets folks who call the Inn. In addition to demanding careers, the Fairbanks family has always found time for community service – they have donated their time and energy to such diverse organizations as the Kiwanis, Camp Imua, the Maui Food Bank and Maui United Way, and the Inn supports Maui Halau, and in most recent years Christ the King Church. This year the Inn adopted the Waihe'e Coastal Dunes Preserve of the Hawaii Land Trust as its stewardship contribution to Malama Hawai'i, preserving our Sacred Places and allowing cultural immersion of Inn Guests through volunteer workdays.
When son Thomas Jr. entered college in 1995, the couple decided it was time to “do their dream.” They both fondly remembered the Hawai‘i of their childhoods and focused their considerable energies on The Old Wailuku Inn at Ulupono, which opened its doors in September 1997.