For nearly half a century, families visiting the island of Hawaii gravitated toward Kona Village, a collection of Polynesian-style bungalows set on 81 pristine beachfront acres. Then, in 2011, a tsunami struck, the resort was shuttered, and mounting lawsuits and debts continually delayed its reopening. Finally, in July, the reimagined Kona Village, now a Rosewood Resort, began welcoming guests once more.
The property’s rescue was driven by Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple cofounder Steve Jobs, and William J. McMorrow, the chairman and CEO of global real estate investment powerhouse Kennedy Wilson. (Powell Jobs and the firm both have ownership shares.) “We had this common history where we had each vacationed there dozens of times,” McMorrow says. “I was lucky to talk to somebody with the same passion, but I told her we only have one chance to do this. We have to get it right.” Here are four ways they did.
There’s no hotel tower to interrupt your stargazing; rather, guest quarters come in the form of 150 thatched-roof hales. A sense of Hawaii pervades these accommodations, from the local artwork on the walls to the oversize lanai outside. Even the Bluetooth speaker is hidden within a hollowed-out coconut shell.
Local Cuisine and Cocktails
Sunsets are sublime at either of the open-air, on-site restaurants. The casual Kahuwai Cookhouse & Market celebrates Hawaii’s paniolo cowboy culture with wood-fired fare (try the bone-in short ribs), while the resort’s central eatery, Moana, offers Pacific Rim–influenced dishes such as Kalua pork and cured Kona kanpachi. For drinks, belly up to the Talk Story Bar or the Shipwreck Bar, which is fashioned from the original resort owner’s once sunken, now restored sailboat.
The 100 percent solar-powered resort is set on the site of a centuries-old fishing and trading village, and to ensure harmony between new and old, developers consulted with direct descendants of the original community members. Guests can connect with the past on a guided tour of the property’s large petroglyph field, where they can see more than 280 carvings depicting sails, warriors, and other traditional motifs.
Many diversions are complimentary, from snorkeling and boogie boarding to stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking. For an extra adrenaline rush, rent a Seabob underwater scooter and glide beneath the waves of Kahuwai Bay alongside parrotfish and sea turtles. Afterward, take a relaxing dip in one of the two main pools or book a Pohaku stone massage at the heavenly Asaya Spa. You’ll feel the warmth of the aloha spirit seep right into your skin.
From $1,800; rosewoodhotels.com