The sunny, 40-mile-long stretch of the Big
Island's west coast -- partly in the district of North Kona, partly
in the district of South Kohala -- has always been the Polynesian
cultural heartland of Hawaii. Today, the area is also home to a
number of master-planned, upscale destination resorts as well as
midrange condominiums and hotels centered on the town of Kailua and
the six miles of coast that lead south to the Keauhou Resort,
itself a mix of midrange and upscale options.
In all price
categories -- from the upscale resorts such as Hualalai/Kona
Village, Waikoloa, Mauna Lani and Hapuna/Mauna Kea to the midmarket
options -- wholesalers and resorts add value to packaged stays on
the island of Hawaii with daily breakfast, rental cars and room
The Big Island is
the youngest of all the Hawaiian Islands and therefore does not, in
general, have the large, time-worn beaches found on Maui, Oahu and
Kauai. But the western Hawaii resorts are the exception to the
rule. These resorts have noteworthy beaches as well as world-class
golf and many recreation options.
best-preserved sites from the archipelago's Polynesian past are
located in western Hawaii, for this stretch of coast was home to
the islands' greatest chiefly families.
include coffee farms in the upcountry, snorkeling and sightseeing
sails, hiking and horseback riding in the North Kohala
cultural importance ties in with our upcoming effort at rebranding
the Big Island as the Island of Hawaii," said George Applegate,
executive director of the Hawaii Island Visitors Bureau. "This
island, and the Kona Coast in particular, is where it all began in
terms of Hawaiian history.
"We're the island
that gave the archipelago its name and its royal family," he added.
"That cultural continuity is what we want to emphasize."
Hawaii resorts, Keauhou and Kailua-Kona at the
southern end of the Kona Coast are closest to the town of Kailua,
the upcountry coffee farms and Puuhonua o'Honaunau, a restored
temple complex that is now administered by the National Park
Lani and Hapuna/Mauna Kea, at the northern end of the west coast,
are closer to Puukohola, the last great temple built in independent
Hawaii (circa 1791), the wilds of North Kohala and the historic
ranch town of Waimea, where the Parker Ranch museums introduce
Hawaii's 200-year-old ranching tradition.
gentrified, Waimea has small-town appeal, with bed-and-breakfasts
and several small hotels as an alternative to a stay along the
coast some 2,000 feet lower.
A host of
developments at resorts on the island of Hawaii's west coast
Resort comprises two 18-hole golf courses, two recently upgraded
hotels, midprice condominiums and a large shopping complex that
includes a market and other shops convenient for condo
There are few
beaches along this part of the coast, so swimming is focused on
hotel and condo pools. The development includes the Keauhou
Sheraton Beach Resort and the Outrigger Keauhou Beach Resort, with
both enjoying higher occupancies thanks to upgrades.
Keauhou Resort is
leveraging the area's rich Hawaiian history, working on restoration
of two local heiau, or temples, and other historical sites and
opening a community learning center where visitors will be able to
meet local people and learn a variety of traditional arts and
what we have at Keauhou and using it as a way to integrate the
Hawaiian culture into the visitor experience," said Valerie
O'Brien, a spokeswoman for Kamehameha Investments, owner of the
Keauhou is a
25-minute drive south of Kona Airport and is 15 minutes from Kailua
town, first capital of the Hawaiian kingdom of Kamehameha I,
maintains a certain charm thanks to early historic buildings such
as the restored Ahuena heiau and mid-19th century landmarks the
Hulihee Palace and the Mokuikaua Church, both open to the
The town pier
serves the tour and snorkel boats that sail the western Hawaii
coast. Shops and smaller condos line Alii Drive, the town's
oceanfront main street.
455-room King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel, which has been up for
sale for some time, may soon be announcing a change of ownership,
and a propertywide upgrade is likely to follow.
The property, whose beach faces the heiau and
Kailua's small harbor, is on the site of King Kamehameha's royal
& Resorts' Royal Kona Resort lies on the other end of town,
with many of its recently renovated rooms offering panoramic ocean
There are also
smaller hotels, such as the 146-room Kona Bay as well as moderately
priced condos and bed-and-breakfasts, in town and along the
six-mile-long stretch of Alii Drive between Kailua town and
Kailua offers a
variety of dining options, including several reasonably priced,
seaside restaurants as well as gourmet options. The town is a 15-
to 20-minute drive south of the airport.
Hualalai Resort at Kaupulehu
The 243-room Four
Seasons Hualalai, which completed a soft goods upgrade in 2006, has
established a solid following of repeat visitors that keeps its
occupancies in the high-80th percentile.
With three main
pools (one will close for refinishing and expansion from early
September through mid-November) and low-rise buildings that stretch
out along the coast, the properties provides an ideal setting for
New homes have
been added to the resort along with a members-only 18-hole golf
course, the resort's second, which points to Hualalai's high
percentage of residential owners.
The resort is a
20-minute ride from Kona International.
Kona Village Resort
by the same joint venture that purchased the adjacent Hualalai
Resort in 2006 (MSD Capital, the private investment firm for
computer magnate Michael Dell, and Rockpoint Group), the 82-acre,
125-cottage Kona Village Resort will see upgrades to its already
luxurious beachfront and lagoon-side accommodations.
Opened in the
1950s, the property is in the style of Tahitian bungalow hotels
rather than the destination resorts that have come to define
Neighbor Islands tourism. According to representatives of the joint
venture, the distinctive characteristics that define the
neighboring resorts will be honored and embraced.
addition to the resort's activity infrastructure is Kona Village
Ocean Adventures' Scooter Dives, which offers DPVs, or
Divers using the
DVP scooters find their air supplies last up to 50% longer, as they
expend much less energy and effort moving through the water. It is
claimed users can cruise effortlessly, faster and farther as they
glide above or below the water with the devices.
Waikoloa Beach Resort
development has undergone an upgrade program, including the recent
completion of a $50 million remake of the Marriott Waikoloa Beach
Resort & Spa that included fully remodeled rooms and baths; a
remodeled lobby, restaurants and pool; additional high-tech
capability for guests; new meetings space; and the addition of a
full-service Mandara Spa.
"We have brought
about magnificent changes that dramatically enhance the guest
experience inside the hotel and throughout the grounds," said
Rodney Ito, the resort's general manager.
An expansion of
the King's Shops complex will be enhanced by the addition of a
second commercial and cultural complex called the Queens'
Hilton Waikoloa Village has budgeted $21 million for room upgrades
at part of a $61 million propertywide renovation to include
development of the Dolphin Quest Village, restaurant overhauls and
the introduction of technology such as self-service
check-in/checkout kiosks and expanded high-speed Internet
more than 1,200 rooms, the Hilton Waikoloa Village is the largest
Neighbor Island hotel and continues to be one of west Hawaii's most
popular, with strong family, romance and meetings and incentives
upscale condo component includes ResortQuest's Shores at Waikoloa
as well as South Kohala Management, which peddles rentals at a
number of area properties. There are three golf courses linked to
the Waikoloa Resort, with catamaran and snorkeling tours departing
palm-lined Anaehoomalu Beach. Waikoloa lies 30 minutes from Kona
Mauna Lani's two
top-tier, beachfront hotels are the independent Mauna Lani Bay
Hotel and Bungalows and Fairmont Orchid at Mauna Lani.
There are also
several deluxe condominiums, including Mauna Lani Point and Mauna
development takes advantage of the ponds and interconnected lagoons
that provide Mauna Lani with a distinctive sense of place. There
are two 18-hole golf courses, and the recently opened Shops at
Mauna Lani includes specialty shops; high-profile restaurants such
as Ruth's Chris Steak House; and the Hoolina show, a free
presentation of storytelling through music and dance, held on
Thursdays and Fridays.
"This gives our
guests a much broader range of dining options, which is especially
beneficial with those here on longer stays," said Mauna Lani Bay
general manager, Kurt Matsumoto, who notes that occupancies are up
for the year, thanks in part to referrals resulting from nearby
Mauna Kea's closing.
Mauna Lani lies
40 minutes north of Kona's airport.
Hapuna, Mauna Kea
The focus in
Hapuna and Mauna Kea for the next 16 to 18 months will be the
Hapuna Prince and its adjacent 18-hole golf course.
Mauna Kea Beach Resort, closed due to damage from the October
earthquakes that shook the Big Island, is currently undergoing
repairs that have led to a propertywide renovation designed to
restore five-star status when it reopens in the fourth quarter of
To make room for
enlarged bathrooms, the upgrade will result in a modest reduction
in room count when the hotel reopens. Mauna Kea's adjacent Robert
Trent Jones Sr.-designed golf course closes May 1 for installation
of a new irrigation system, re-grassing from tee to green and the
construction of a new clubhouse and restaurant, all set to debut
when the hotel reopens.
maintaining the existing design of the course," said Denise
Anderson, director of sales, luxury, leisure and corporate travel
for Prince Resorts in Hawaii. "The course and the hotel have a
loyal following, and we're restoring Mauna Kea with their
expectations in mind."
For more on the
island of Hawaii, call (808) 961-5797 or visit www.bigisland.org.
To contact reporter Allan Seiden, send e-mail to [email protected].