Kona Surf Redo

Starwood working on $40 million renovation

By: Marty Wentzel

When Starwood Hotels & Resorts finishes a $40 million renovation of the Kona Surf Hotel in early 2004, the 530-room property will be renamed Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort.

Starwood officials said the Big Island hotel will be a four-diamond property with rack rates estimated at $200 to $300, comparable to rates at the Waikoloa Resort.

The Kona Surf, which opened in 1971 as a four-star property, had deteriorated significantly.

“The structure will remain largely intact but the overall effect of the new resort will be quite dramatic,” said Karen Hughes, Starwood’s regional vice president of sales and marketing for Hawaii, “The hotel is built into a lava cliff, and the location provides stunning views.

“We’ll open up the hotel to make the most of those views,” Hughes said. She noted that the Kona Coast currently has two types of lodgings. “On one hand you have the really high-end resorts of Mauna Lani, Mauna Kea and Hualalai, and then you have the fairly low-end hotels of Kona. We will fit in-between, while gearing ourselves more toward the upscale,” Hughes said.

Keauhou - Hawaiian for “new era” - includes ancient ruins, Hawaiian burial grounds and the birthplace of King Kamehameha III. Hughes said the resort will showcase that heritage and involve the community in daily programs. For example, she said, a local halau (hula school) might offer classes or members of a canoe club might explain ancient navigational techniques.

A new multi-level swimming pool, with water slides, will be the resort’s focal point, Hughes said. Plans also call for a spa, a network of biking and jogging paths and a rock-climbing wall. Food outlets are to include a casual restaurant, a sports and game bar, carry-out general store and poolside grills.