An adult only property ensuring peace and quiet located right on the beach on the western side of Rarotonga, nestled amongst mature tropical palms on the edge of the lagoon.
My name is Dennis Hogan and my wife is Patti Hogan. Together we own and operate Sunhaven Beach Bungalows.
Patti was born to Cook Islands parents in Rarotonga where she was raised and schooled but lived her adult life in Auckland, New Zealand. One of 14 children, her father was a baker who taught her how to bake bread – the hard way. I was born in, what back then was, the rural periphery of Auckland City in a small Waikato town to Kiwi parents and lived in the farming region until my family moved to Auckland when I was 7 years old.
I met Patti in Auckland in 1975 and we got married in 1977. In 1991 we moved from NZ to Rarotonga to try our luck in her home village of Arorangi on the western shores of Rarotonga. This was supposed to only be for a five-year term before returning to NZ.
Patti is an accomplished seamstress by trade having run a small ladies fashion boutique in New Lynn, Auckland called Dynasty Fashions in the late 80’s. She would watch the popular Dynasty TV show, draw the dress or jacket one of the leading ladies was wearing, then go and make it the next day and have it on a model in the window first thing a day later. She doesn’t do any of that nowadays but has made and maintains all the curtains and bedspreads for Sunhaven. Her hobbies are baking and gardening. She is responsible for all the gardens and landscaping on the property.
As a young fella, I served a motor mechanics apprenticeship in Mt Albert, Auckland for a BMC dealership. I had always been a bit of a petrol head even while at school. In my first year at work I saved enough of my meager apprentice wage for a deposit to buy my first car. My pay then was just 7 pounds a week (a year before decimal currency was introduced in NZ). I think I paid 150 pounds for it. It was a trade in by a new car customer and the motor was shot. This then became my first engine reconditioning job which I worked on after hours. I bought and sold a string of cars during those years, most of them needed lots of attention and mechanical repair when I got them, working my way up in brands and models. In 1976 I started a used car sales yard in New Lynn, Auckland near the Lynnmall shopping complex and ran it for 10 years. This seemed to be the natural progression my life was taking.
During the late 70’s & 80’s I had become a keen Ford V8 enthusiast and raced a Falcon GT in classic car races at circuits in the north island. I owned two of these classic cars, one of which was a rare ’69 GTHO, but had to sell them both when we moved to Rarotonga. I wish I still had them as they have gone up in value ten fold.
In 2001 I began overseas bicycle touring with a couple of mates accomplishing rides across the USA Pacific to Atlantic coasts LA to Boston, the Alps of Europe taking in France, Switzerland, Italy and Austria. We also rode in NZ from Picton to Stewart Island via the west coast plus a tour in the upper north island following the Discovery Highway from Auckland to Kaitaia and back covering both West and East coasts. These days I only ride 2 – 3 times a week round Rarotonga to stay in shape. I get my thrills now motorbike riding with friends around New Zealand whenever I get the opportunity.
In 1991, the year we arrived in Rarotonga, we built a petrol station complex in Arorangi which comprised of a grocery store, car tyre sales & service, rental – cars, scooters and bicycles. This we ran 7 days a week for almost ten years at times getting ourselves at odds with the local CICC church minister and Paramount Queen of the village for opening on Sundays. For the record, we were the first petrol station, or shop for that matter, to open 7 days a week on Rarotonga. Now there are quite a few.
Included in the complex was a ladies dress shop, named (can you guess?) yes – Dynasty Fashions from which Patti made and sold ladies wear. If that wasn’t enough she also added a small Devonshire Tea room. This is where Patti’s famous scones began. And it was here that she made a couple of island shirts for His Royal Highness Prince Edward to wear at official engagements during his 1993 royal visit to the Cook Islands. This was made possible because one of her customers at the time was the Queens Representatives wife.
In 1997 we purchased a one acre property on the beach in Arorangi with a mind to develop a small tourist resort. The vendors were an elderly English couple we knew who were returning to NZ to live. In fact the lady had been a customer of Patti’s back in NZ.
The property, which is part of Patti’s family’s land, contained a large beach house and a decent sized swimming pool. The section was in lawns and had at least 50 mature coconut tress placed strategically about the place. We lived in the house enjoying the therapeutic sound of the waves breaking over the reef, breathtaking sunsets and the magical vista of the lagoon and Pacific Ocean. The only thing I didn’t really enjoy was mowing so much lawn as all the trees made it a painful chore.
So – in 1999, while we were still running the service station, we built three Beachfront Bungalows and one Garden Bungalow next to the beach house and Sunhaven Beach Bungalows was born, opening for business on the 9th February 2000. We soon found that running both businesses was too much work and sold the service station on 24 December that same year so we could put all our energies and finances into our new venture.
Business was good from the beginning so in 2002, after building a new house at the rear of the property for ourselves to live in; we demolished the beach house and added two Beachfront Suites, one Beachfront Studio Suite, one Beachfront Deluxe Studio and one Beachfront Standard Studio. These we completed and commissioned in 2003. This gave us the nine rooms we have today.
Sunhaven Beach Bungalows is a family business employing Patti’s family whenever possible plus others to make up the numbers. However everyone affectionately calls us Uncle and Aunty. While you might not see all of them working on the property, nieces and nephews keep us supplied with fresh tropical fruit from their home gardens for our guests and collect our fallen coconuts to feed their pigs. Kia Manuia, Dennis and Patti.