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Ever since Kona Village closed in 2011 due to tsunami damage, fans have been yearning for its return. The Hawaii Island icon is slated to reopen in 2022 at the hands of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, which promises to honor the 1965 original while delivering a world-class visitor experience.
As devotees wait for their favorite getaway to reboot, we suggest they consider sampling other Hawaii accommodations with comparable attributes. While nothing is exactly like Kona Village, these five fine resorts invite comparisons, whether through inclusions, layout, location, sense of history or spirit of aloha.
Inclusions: Travaasa Hana, MauiKona Village came pretty close to being an all-inclusive as it bundled accommodations, dining and most activities into its rates, although clients did pay for their alcoholic beverages.
Travaasa Hana mirrors that approach, with its inclusive package covering rooms, meals, tips and a $175 resort credit per person per night — which can be used for spa treatments, among other things.
As part of the package, the east Maui hotel throws in a wide range of free guest programs and pastimes, such as Hawaiian throw-net fishing and spear-throwing; slacklining and guided meditation; smoothie- and acai bowl-making; and live music most evenings.
The rural setting and laid-back town of Hana add a blissful atmosphere of timelessness to the stay.
Layout: Waimea Plantation Cottages, KauaiKona Village stood out with its freestanding guest huts, which guaranteed privacy. Similarly, the 43-acre Waimea Plantation Cottages gives clients their own dwellings with unique stories to tell.
The west Kauai oceanside resort features a low-density layout of 61 homes dating back to the late 1800s to 1930s. Originally built for the area’s sugar plantation workers, each renovated cottage — ranging from one to five bedrooms — is different from the next, with decor reflecting a bygone era.
Accommodations provide private lanais and modern amenities such as Wi-Fi access and DVD players. The cottages have full kitchens, but clients can stop by the lobby every morning for complimentary juice and coffee, and they can dine in the resort’s restaurant, which serves three meals per day.
Location: Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, Hawaii IslandAs the closest property to Kona Village — within walking distance along the shore, in fact — Four Seasons Hualalai presents Kona-Kohala Coast panoramas similar to those from its neighbor to the north.
Like Kona Village, Four Seasons Hualalai is embraced by black lava, white-sand beaches and a blue expanse of water, with volcanic mountains watching over it. And it exudes the same aura of exclusivity, since guests access it by a winding road off the main highway.
Offering open-air restaurants and five distinctive swimming pools with ocean views, the resort’s facilities capitalize on the setting. Guests are urged to celebrate the surroundings through activities such as traditional outrigger canoe paddling; and collecting salt on the coast in the tradition of the ancient Hawaiians.
Sense of History: Kahala Hotel & Resort, OahuHawaii lays claim to numerous hotels that were constructed around the same time as Kona Village, but none quite like the Kahala.
Hidden away to the east of Waikiki, this Honolulu gem broke the mold when it burst onto the scene in 1964. It was Hawaii’s first major resort with air conditioning in all the rooms, and its jaw-dropping furnishings included lobby chandeliers made from 28,000 multicolored pieces of fused Italian glass.
Like Kona Village, Kahala has attracted celebrities wanting to get away from it all (such as presidents, monarchs, musicians, movie stars and other VIPs seeking uncommon luxury). With its spacious accommodations, dolphin lagoon and gourmet dining, it encourages all guests to make their own vacation history.
Spirit of Aloha: Kaanapali Beach Hotel, MauiThis northwest Maui resort calls itself the Most Hawaiian Hotel, with good reason. While many properties around the islands feature on-site cultural programs, Kaanapali Beach Hotel does so with particular generosity, much like Kona Village.
Enthusiastic employees are immersed in the destination’s heritage, and they share that passion with guests. History, legends and lore come to the fore as clients take part in hands-on lessons in lei-making, conch shell-blowing and ukulele-playing; learn the importance of local plants on garden tours; and gain new appreciation for the ocean during interactions with the hotel’s beach boys.
That spirit of aloha lasts through the final goodbye, as departing guests join in on a free farewell lei ceremony with plenty of heart.
The DetailsKona Village, A Rosewood Resortwww.rosewoodhotels.com