Oprah's Hawaiian adventure began a couple of years ago when her personal
trainer turned property manager, Bob Greene, planted the idea that she might buy
land on one of the islands. Besotted with the weather, the mountains, and the
ocean, Bob had been visiting a certain part of Hawaii for 15 years, looking for
"the perfect spot."
He found it in a remote up-country region, where the houses that dot the moss-covered rock hillside face the ocean. Bob then convinced Oprah to look at a nearby property for sale. "He was worried that some developer might swoop up the land and build condos," Oprah says.
Instead, she bought the land—and has no plan to build any condos.
Oprah called Ellie,
her Hawaiian decorator, after seeing a photograph of Ellie's Connecticut home on
the cover of a magazine; she was attracted to its informal American country
style. When the phone rang and Ellie heard Oprah on the other end of the line,
Ellie says, "I jumped out of the bathtub, grabbed my cell phone, and ran out on
the driveway for better reception—wrapped in only a towel. Oprah said, 'I want
you to do my house in Hawaii.' I thought we should meet first."