Kona Village, A Rosewood Resort on Hawai’i’s Kona Coast is now welcoming guests.
The resort, which is privileged to call the sacred land of Kaʻūpūlehu home, is a reimagination of the original Kona Village Resort, which first opened in the 1960s and subsequently shuttered in 2011.
Kennedy Wilson, the global real estate investment company known for its commitment to responsible and sustainable development in Hawaiʻi, took a light-on-the-land approach to reconstructing the resort and has partnered with Rosewood Hotels & Resorts® to build on that foundation, prioritizing environmental responsibility and care for local culture in the guest experience.
Spanning 81 acres of geologic landscape, Kona Village pulls inspiration from Kaʻūpūlehu’s heritage, culture, and natural surroundings. In keeping with this ethos, and directly supporting Kennedy Wilson’s efforts to preserve and restore the local environment, the resort is designed to uphold and honor the land’s centuries-long legacy of stewardship.
Kaʻūpūlehu harbors mana – or special energy of power and strength – that both commands respect and embraces those who visit. The seven-year development of the resort honored this duty. Key to the Kennedy Wilson team’s efforts was the assembly of a cultural leadership committee, comprised of direct lineal descendants of the land and other Hawai’i Island kūpuna who have guided the project from its earliest days and ensured that the land maintains its mana.
Today, Kona Village, A Rosewood Resort’s dedicated cultural center pays tribute to Kaʻūpūlehu’s history, the sacred archeological sites it is home to, and many more of Hawai’i’s precious resources.
The property’s construction was informed by Kennedy Wilson’s guiding mission to be as light on the land as possible. Demonstrating Kona Village’s commitment to sustainability, several of the key buildings on property were designed according to LEED Gold Certification standards, and the resort is also pursuing TRUE and SITES certifications. If achieved, Kona Village will be the first resort in the world with all three distinctions.
During construction, efforts in support of these accolades included Kennedy Wilson’s work with Re-Use Hawaiʻi, a non-profit organization that recycles and repurposes old building materials. The team also relied on sustainably sourced timber and engineered wood, as well as low-emitting paints, coatings, adhesives, and sealants. Expansive solar fields will allow the resort to be powered 100% by renewable energy, lessening the impact on the environment and community resources. Given the significance of water to Kaʻūpūlehu, the property operates its own reverse osmosis and wastewater treatment plants.
Hawaiʻi-raised architect Greg Warner of Walker Warner Architects, and San Francisco-based interior design firm, NICOLEHOLLIS, designed the property to highlight the history of Hawaiʻi and the Kona Coast specifically. The architecture subtly nods to the original Kona Village Resort, with thoughtful changes made to certain legacy elements that are no longer considered sustainable; for example, the new thatched roofing is made from recycled materials rather than traditional native leaves. The duty of defending native plant and animal life was further supported by VITA Planning & Landscape Architecture, who championed the preservation of existing trees, plants, and naturally existing lava features.
In addition to embodying Hawai’i’s cultural heritage through craftsmanship, the concept of ‘ohana is channeled through the property’s layout, which centers the 150 guest hale, themselves spread across several village-like crescents, around the resort’s shared spaces. Spanning one to four bedrooms, these traditional Hawaiian structures offer the private comfort of a refined beach bungalow and are yet another nod to the former days of Kona Village.
Around the entire resort, a custom collection of art reflects Hawai’i’s layered identity. Commissioned by NICOLEHOLLIS, over 60 multimedia artists – the majority of whom are native Hawaiians or residents – visited the land during the property’s reimagination for an immersion into its rich spirit and story. These contemporary pieces are juxtaposed with original works curated by NICOLEHOLLIS. The result is a one-of-a-kind exhibition of the arts wholly inspired by the landscape, featuring pieces by several of the island’s most celebrated creators including Marques Marzan, Roen Hufford, Kaili Chun, and Pegge Hopper.
“Debuting Kona Village, A Rosewood Resort is a satisfying new chapter for this treasured place that carries significance and meaning for the community and for our team,” said William McMorrow, chairman and CEO of Kennedy Wilson. “We are grateful for the thousands of talented people who contributed to the reawakening of Kona Village along this special coastline and for the guidance of our many local stakeholders, including our Cultural Leadership Committee whose contributions furthered our efforts to care for this land through development. As we move from the construction phase into operations, we have every confidence that Rosewood will continue that focus while delivering a top-tier resort experience.”
“We are honored to join with Kennedy Wilson to serve as the caretakers of this land that holds such significance to so many,” said Radha Arora, president of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts. “We have focused on providing an elevated experience that allows for guests to immerse themselves in a culture of discovery. At Rosewood, we have always held a deep reverence for the legacy properties around the globe that we have been chosen to steward, and Kona Village, A Rosewood Resort is a true representation of inherent hospitality and the understanding that we are intimately intertwined with our natural surroundings, as well as those who came before.”