KAILUA-KONA — Kona Village Resort is coming back to life.
Construction is underway at the iconic Kona Coast getaway as real estate investment firm Kennedy Wilson prepares to reopen the resort shuttered since the March 2011 tsunami devastated the grounds. Should the complete renovation go as planned, Kona Village, A Rosewood Resort, anticipates reopening in 2022.
“Given the current status of construction, we are stating 2022 as an opening date,” Dave Eadie, senior vice president of entitlement and development at Kennedy Wilson, said Wednesday. “We will narrow in on a time of year and then a specific month as construction progresses and we come closer to completion.”
The 2022 reopening is a push back from when Eadie anticipated in October that the resort might reopen in 2021. Back in 2016, when Kennedy Wilson signed an agreement with Kamehameha Schools to reopen the 81.4-acre resort, Kona Village was expected to be “fully operational” by this summer.
Eadie on Wednesday attributed the most recent delay to “fine-tuning components of the project.”
“Looking ahead, completion could occur faster or slower depending upon a myriad of circumstances related to the construction process,” he said.
Eadie did not provide an estimate on the cost of the renovation but noted, “We are conducting a major renewal of the original resort that includes deconstructing numerous existing structures by hand and associated utility work throughout the property.”
Upon reopening, ultra-luxury hotel group Rosewood Hotels &Resorts will manage Kona Village. Rosewood Hotels &Resorts’ portfolio includes 24 luxury properties in 15 countries, with 23 new hotels under development.
Eadie said that the company shares Kennedy Wilson’s vision for creating a hotel that delivers a world-class experience while also honoring the history of the location to provide a sense of place to guests.
“Kona Village is such a special and unique location, and Rosewood’s track record creating one-of-a-kind experiences for guests seemed like a perfect fit,” he said.
Sonia Cheng, CEO of Rosewood Hotel Group, said in a press release that the company is honored to bring its “sense of place” philosophy to “such a hallowed resort in the most stunning of destinations.”
“Kona Village’s illustrious history and vibrant culture provide the perfect backdrop for Rosewood’s first property in the Hawaiian Islands,” she said. “This is a defining development, not only for Rosewood Hotels &Resorts, but also for Hawaii, and we are grateful to Kennedy Wilson for allowing us to be a part of it.”
Welcoming back guests will be 150 unique, standalone guest hale with locally inspired decor and spectacular views. Each accommodation, spear-headed by Hawaii-raised architect Greg Warner of Walker Warner Architects, will feature a private lanai and outdoor shower.
An array of distinct dining venues, including the original resort’s beloved Shipwreck Bar and Talk Story Bar, will offer elevated yet relaxed food and beverage experiences.
Guests will also have access to new leisure facilities including a Rosewood spa, a state-of-the-art fitness center, multiple pools and tennis courts, as well as outdoor recreational activities. There’ll also be a cultural center “that will grant both locals and visitors access to extensive Hawaiian lineage, providing a link between the resort and its surroundings,” according to Kennedy Wilson.
Eadie said Wednesday the vision for the property remains a mirror of the past low-density use of the land that defined the resort for so many years and attracted repeat visitors.
“Kona Village is unique in that it served as a home away from home for thousands of guests from around the world for decades. The bonds that formed between guests and the staff kept people coming back year after year, and we believe the guest experience that Rosewood Hotels &Resorts cultivates will reflect that same sense of place,” said Eadie. “We look forward to welcoming back Ohana to Kona Village, A Rosewood Resort, and introducing new guests to this one-of-a-kind destination.”
Kona Village, located just north of the Four Seasons Resort, Hualalai, originally opened in 1965, running for more than four decades until the March 11, 2011, tsunami damaged the property, destroying utilities, 20 of the 125 bungalows, two restaurants, and the main office and activity center. The closure resulted in more than 250 lost jobs.
Kennedy Wilson took over the resort in 2016 in a land lease agreement with Kamehameha Schools after lenders had filed a foreclosure lawsuit against the resort’s former owner Kona Village Investors LLC.