Kona Village featured an unparalleled old-Hawaii setting prior to its closing in early 2011. // © 2016 Kamehameha Schools
Feature image (above): Kona Village's thatched-roof hale (bungalows) offered an unplugged ambiance. // © 2016 Kamehameha Schools
For 45 years, Kona Village Resort was a cherished member of the Hawaii Island tourism scene. With its distinctive setting of thatched-roof “hale” (bungalows) bordering beaches and lagoons, it was a one-of-a-kind vacation destination.
In 2011, however, extensive damage from a tsunami forced Kona Village to close. Ever since, devoted clients have awaited word of its return.
Now, there’s good news for Kona Village fans. The oceanfront west Hawaii property will be renovated, with a scheduled reopening date of summer 2019. Plans call for retaining the resort’s original vision as a low-density layout with 125 hale across 81 acres.
A Resort Like No Other
From its opening in 1965, Kona Village earned a dedicated following of repeat guests. Since the hale had no telephones or televisions, clients could unplug and enjoy its old-Hawaii ambience. Instead of walking down corridors and taking elevators to their rooms, guests strolled to and from their accommodations along sandy paths lined with palms and plumeria trees.
While it wasn’t a true all-inclusive, Kona Village came closer than any other Hawaii resort to bundle lodging, meals and most activities in the nightly rate, although clients paid for their alcoholic drinks.
Ross Birch, executive director of the Hawaii Island Visitors Bureau, calls Kona Village’s restoration encouraging news for visitors and residents alike.
“In fact, the property holds great personal significance for my wife and I, as we’ve celebrated our wedding anniversary there and plan to continue the annual tradition once Kona Village Resort is restored,” Birch said.
The growing number of travelers who are seeking a unique and immersive Hawaii Island experience will appreciate the resort, he adds.
“The revitalization of Kona Village Resort will provide another desired avenue to explore our island's rich cultural history,” Birch said.
Feedback From Wholesalers and Agents
Pleasant Holidays president Jack Richards says the renovation of Kona Village will help to boost incremental sales to the island of Hawaii.
“Nonstop flights to the island have increased significantly since 2011,” Richards said. “We forecast strong demand for the new Kona Village Resort, as guests can fly nonstop [from the U.S. mainland] rather than change planes in Honolulu or Maui.”
Richards notes that travelers who encounter the resort for the first time will likely become loyal guests.
“Once the resort is restored to its former glory and reopened for sales, we anticipate seeing a return in its popularity,” Richards said.
Kona Village accounted for approximately 800 Pleasant Holidays bookings between 2008 and its closing in March 2011.
The revival of Kona Village also bodes well for travel agents, says Marilyn Clark of Lighthouse Travel in Huntington Beach, Calif.
“I expect it to have a positive effect on Hawaii Island bookings,” Clark said. “In the past couple of years, there has been a significant increase in requests for all-inclusive resorts in Hawaii, as well as for experiential travel. Kona Village offers both.”