Kona Hotel sold after 95-year family history

  • The Kona Hotel in Holualoa has sold after being run as a family business for 95 years. Special to West Hawaii Today

After almost a century of business, the Inaba family on Monday announced the sale of the historic Kona Hotel. The sale closed Monday, July 26, 2021.

Zentaro &Hatsuyo Inaba built the hotel in 1926 and ran it until they died. The three-story, bubble-gum-pink Holualoa landmark was appreciated by traveling workers, business-people and island families alike as they were treated like family by the next purveyors, Goro and Yayoko Inaba, who took over the hotel after their parents. The family continued to oversee the hotel until this day. When Kona became a noted tourist destination, visitors found their way to the “Pink Hotel,” enjoying the quiet atmosphere and local ambiance.

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Situated just off Mamalahoa Highway, and along the state’s first scenic byway — Mamalahoa Kona Heritage Corridor — the hotel was designated a “heritage building.” It was a home away from home for travelers near and far and, in more recent times, the Kona Hotel offered residential and commercial spaces for businesses.

“Because of the hotel’s history and prominence in the Kona community, the Inaba family wanted to formally announce the sale of the property and thank everyone — family, friends, customers — for their years and years of aloha and support,” family member Kawehi Inaba said, adding the family will miss this special gathering place but will treasure the memories.

“We knew it was something that had to take place due to the multiple owners involved,” Inaba said of the sale. “It is time for all of the family members to move on with other ventures.”

Inaba said there are other parcels of land in Holualoa the family will be able to spend time on.

“We will malama properly for our lahui here,” she said.

She could not disclosed the new owners at this time but assured they would be a good fit for the iconic hotel.

“What we have heard and what makes us very happy is that they plan on restoring the hotel back to the way it was,” she said. “It was one of the reasons we were comfortable making the sale. They do this nationwide and they chose the Kona Hotel to restore back to its grandeur.”

Inaba said the hotel has been a an inspiration to her family and the community during its 95-year history.

“We as the Kona Inaba family embraces the values that were instilled upon all of us throughout our lifetime there. But most importantly from its inception until we sold it, that was a place for people to come,” she said. “It was a place of safety, of love, of aloha. I remember my mother-in-law and father-in-law always having their arms open to those sometime not so fortunate. And to be able to live that, to see that they malama other people — it didn’t matter who they were or where they came from. That place right there was a loving place. I am certain everyone here in Kona would agree because there were so, so many families and lives that were touched through the Kona Hotel and my family.”

Inaba said the hotel has a legacy of aloha.

“I hope that continues there,” Inaba said. “As a family, as we move on that’s what our plans are for other parcels of land. The most important thing is how do you treat people, how are they accepted and loved. That will always be with that place and my family.”

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She said the family is at peace with the decision they made to sell the hotel.

“There were many doors that were opened all around us, but sometimes you have to close one so you can walk into another and make the right choices,” she said. “We believe and have been told that the new owners will malama that place, so we will have faith in that.”

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