An audible splash is reverberating across the Big Island with the reimagining of an iconic hideaway. After over a decade of being dormant in the wake of a tsunami that devastated Kona Village, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts was appointed to manage what turned into a seven-year restoration to reopen as Kona Village, A Rosewood Resort.
The quintessential elements of the original Kona Village that long ago burrowed their way into the hearts of its loyal guests have not been lost, only enhanced. After re-entering the scene to overwhelmingly positive feedback, this iconic property continues to demonstrate a profound connection to and appreciation of its heritage, rooted in a one-of-a-kind location.
Centuries before playing home to beach lovers sipping on delectably fruity drinks (legend has it that Jim Morrison once set an island record by drinking twenty-one mai tais at Kona Village’s Shipwreck Bar) the sacred shores of Kahuwai Bay welcomed the very first Polynesian settlers to Hawaiʻi. In the intervening years, this ancient bay has seen a great deal of history unfold, including its development into a fishing and trading village before being abandoned by settlers, and ultimately, becoming a world-renowned resort. But let us back up a bit.
In 1965, intrepid explorer Johnno Jackson and his wife, Helen, arrived at the then-deserted shores of Kahuwai Bay after sailing the South Pacific on their schooner, New Moon. Enchanted by their lofty dream to create a special home on the island, they established the Kona Village Resort. In the following five decades, Kona Village established its own beating heart, welcoming families from around the world who would return year after year.
In 2011, an earthquake off the coast of Japan sent a tsunami across the Pacific Ocean, and tragically, Kona Village was swept away in the aftermath. In addition to the toll, it took on islanders and the team who long stood behind Kona Village’s magic, loyal guests of the resort were left heartbroken and without the chance to say goodbye. The emotional ties its repeat clients had with the property were evident when a Save Kona Village Facebook page sprouted up and gained nearly ten thousand members.
But much to the dismay of its cult following, this special part of the Big Island sat in deep stillness for over a decade. A ray of hope came when the landowners partnered with Kennedy Wilson – developer and owner of the asset – who appointed Rosewood Hotels and Resorts to operate the resort. Together, they sought to bring its thatched hales set against salted sands and illuminated waters back to life. This investment brought with it a renewed chance to share the land’s restorative properties with both familiar faces and newcomers.
From the flexibility and diversity in its accommodations to the many shared spaces and Kona Village’s Rosewood Explorers Keiki Club – the local interpretation of Rosewood’s forward-thinking kids’ club concept – the resort was remade for ‘ohana as guests gather and reconnect. Today, it also serves as a haven for couples or honeymooners as the ultimate oasis to have a romantic escape.
The architecture found across the property includes nods to the resort’s history, with thoughtful changes made to certain previously existing elements that are no longer aligned with the latest standards of sustainability
The resort’s meticulously thought-out design is the product of some of the greatest modern talents in architecture, design, art, and horticulture. Spearheaded by Hawaiʻi -raised architect, Greg Warner of Walker Warner Architects, and San Francisco-based interior design firm, Nicolehollis, there’s an inextricable link between past and present.
The architecture found across the property includes nods to the resort’s history, with thoughtful changes made to certain previously existing elements that are no longer aligned with the latest standards of sustainability. For example, Kona Village’s thatched roofing was an element of the original resort. In its reimagining, new thatching was made from recycled materials rather than the traditional native leaves.
Across the 81 acres of land on which the resort was constructed, a custom collection of art reflects Hawaiʻi’s layered identity. Over sixty multimedia artists – the majority of whom are native Hawaiians or residents today – visited the land during the property’s restoration for an extensive immersion into its rich spirit and story.
The result is a truly one-of-a-kind exhibition of the arts wholly inspired by the landscape, featuring pieces by several of the island’s most celebrated creators including Marques Marzan, Roen Hufford, Kaili Chun, Abigail Romanchak, Jordan Souza, Suzanne Wang, and Pegge Hopper.
We love the signature suites, called kauhale, for oceanfront or beachfront vantage points often boasting secluded gardens.
In the rooms and suites, called hale, freestanding buildings are the ultimate key to privacy. To decide between the wide range of configurations across the multi-bedroom units ranging anywhere from one, two, and four bedrooms, work with your SmartFlyer advisor to discuss your specific needs.
Aside from views – decide between the array of configurations including gardens, lagoons, mountains, or ocean vantage points – additional amenities like private pools, hot tubs, and personalized butler service vary per room category. We love the signature suites, called kauhale, for oceanfront or beachfront vantage points often boasting secluded gardens.
Ocean Front Four Bedroom Kumukea Kauhale
Situated on the northernmost point of the resort with unobstructed views of the Pacific Ocean, The Ocean Front Accessible Four Bedroom Kumukea Kauhale features 8,500 square feet of combined indoor and outdoor lanai space. Designed to reflect the architectural traditions of the island, this breathtaking presidential-style residence features an expansive floor plan with three king beds, two queen beds, a private living room, and private sitting area, a full chef’s kitchen, four full bathrooms, one-half bathroom, and an outdoor dining area with summer kitchen. Mobility Accessible features included.
Ohana Pool Four Bedroom Kauhale
Luxuriously appointed presidential style, four-bedroom residence with private pool, hot tub, outdoor fire pit, two kings and four queen beds. (3,110 sq. ft.)
Ocean Front Four Bedroom Mahewalu Kauhale
The Ocean Front Four Bedroom Maheawalu Kauhale is located on Maheawalu Point with unobstructed views of the Pacific Ocean and features 8,500 square feet of combined indoor and outdoor lanai space. Designed to reflect the architectural traditions of the island, the Maheawalu Kauhale is a presidential-style residence and features an expansive floor plan with four king beds, an indoor dining room, a full chef’s kitchen, four full bathrooms, a luxurious outdoor bathtub, an outdoor rain shower, and an outdoor dining area with summer kitchen.
Beach Front Two Bedroom Kauhale
Two-bedroom suite accommodations steps from the beach with an oversized lanai, outdoor rain shower, one king bed, and two queen beds (1,600 sq. ft.)
Beach Front Black Sand Two Bedroom Kauhale
This unique two-bedroom suite accommodation features a king bed and two queen beds, and an open-air living room with a lanai staircase leading directly onto a secluded black sand beach (1,325 sq. ft.)
Ocean Front One Bedroom Kauhale
Ocean front one bedroom suite overlooking the Pacific Ocean with an oversized lanai, outdoor rain shower, and one king bed (1,000 sq. ft.).
Wellness enthusiasts on the hunt for a healing journey will find themselves at home at Asaya Spa. Built into the black lava flow with views toward the Hualālai volcano, Asaya Spa at Kona Village offers a unique interpretation of Rosewood’s integrative wellness concept designed to encourage restoration and rejuvenation.
With enlightening spa treatments, wellness experiences, fitness opportunities, and a variety of outdoor and ocean activities, guests will experience an escape that awakens their souls. The intention is for guests to feel gently steered to a regenerative state of lōkahi – a concept from traditional Hawaiian healing that means harmony mentally, physically, and spiritually. Kona Village can also serve as a natural landscape for adventure seekers and explorers alike to feel a tapestry of formative experiences.
With floor-to-ceiling windows, the state-of-the-art fitness center is open 24 hours and offers a comfortable and naturally energized space. TechnoGym equipment, including cardiovascular and weight training machines, provides everything you need for a great workout, while relaxing saunas aid in rest and recovery. Couples or groups seeking active time together will enjoy the fully equipped pickleball and tennis courts.
Restaurants and Bars
Kona Village has connected with the island’s most skillful culinary talents to elevate its offerings. Its restaurants and bars each offer a wide array of dishes rooted in fresh, local ingredients. Legacy guests have been reported to be eagerly reacquainting themselves with Kona Village’s two beloved bars, Shipwreck and Talk Story.
Harking back to the resort’s founding, the boat on which Johno and Helen Jackson arrived on the island, New Moon, took on water and sank to the bottom of Kahuwai Bay. So, in the sixties, they hauled it out of the Pacific, painted it, and started serving mai tais from the deck. Astonishingly, New Moon survived the tsunami and has retained a key part of the resort’s identity decades later. Today, it’s known to serve playful cocktails served by bartender Marlin Hunter who, believe it or not, was named for the massive marlin fish his father caught on the very beach the resort is anchored upon. And for those who love a refreshing coconut, keep an eye out for the daily three o’clock coconut wagon serving complimentary poolside refreshments.
The property’s signature restaurant, Moana, extends an elevated, Pacific Rim-to-table dining experience taking inspiration from the many different cuisines introduced to the island via these trade routes spanning the region’s extensive history. Located at the heart of Kona Village, Moana is a cheerful eatery serving Pacific Rim-to-table cuisine. From lavish breakfasts to dinners that celebrate local, regional, and sustainably sourced ingredients from land and sea, Moana honors the historic fishing village that once thrived here.
Kahuwai Cookhouse and Market
Influenced by the people who have cultivated the land dating back centuries, Kahuwai Cookhouse serves up a variety of dishes throughout the day inspired by The Big Island’s paniolo culture. This includes menu items that utilize Kiawe (similar to mesquite) wood-fired cooking, the choice cooking style on a paniolo ranch.
Casual and communal with an open kitchen, the Kahuwai Cookhouse it offers an all-day selection of grab-and-go delights. From light breakfasts to hearty meals with kombucha, craft beer, and wine on tap, every bite here is simple and soothing to the soul. Check the menu boards for rotating grilled favorites, updated daily.
Talk Story Bar
Watch for whales at Talk Story Bar, an iconic gathering place embedded in the centermost location of Kona Village. Unforgettable sunsets complement this ideal location for pre-dinner drinks, where an enticing menu of beverages is inspired by classic cocktails, each with a history and legacy of its own.
Shipwreck Bar gives new life to a sunken sailboat, years ago pulled lovingly from the bottom of Kahuwai Bay. Beautifully refurbished and conveniently located poolside, Shipwreck Bar features spectacular ocean views and a playful cocktail menu.
Pools and Beach
There are four outdoor pools, each with sweeping views of the resort’s striking natural beauty and full poolside service. You can also take a dip in the Pacific Ocean.
In partnership with all key stakeholders, Rosewood takes its role as co-stewards of this land seriously. This commitment was evident during the rebuilding phase when lineal descendants of the original fishing village were brought in to guide teams on how to best preserve the cultural sites around the resort. In turn, a thoughtful architectural approach honors the original Kona Village by keeping large petroglyph fields and anchialine pools that are home to rare, endemic plants and animals. New structures remain light on the land, with raised, thatched hales, complimenting the lush landscape. From exterior siding inspired by coconut tree husks to basalt rock furnishings, each element feels organic and rooted in the natural environment.