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What Happened To Kona Village Resort


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Tiff Romans



Welcome to our comprehensive article on the intriguing story of Kona Village Resort. With its scenic location on the Kona Coast of Hawaii, this iconic resort enchanted guests for decades before its unexpected closure. In this article, we will dive into the background of the resort, explore the reasons behind its closure, discuss its current status, and delve into the efforts being made to bring it back to life.


Nestled among beautiful white sand beaches and lush tropical gardens, Kona Village Resort was renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty and authentic Hawaiian hospitality. It was a paradise where guests could escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and immerse themselves in the peaceful and rejuvenating atmosphere.


Established in the 1960s, Kona Village Resort quickly gained a reputation as a premier destination for travelers seeking an immersive Hawaiian experience. Its unique bungalow-style accommodations, designed to blend harmoniously with the natural environment, offered guests a truly authentic and unforgettable stay.


Over the years, the resort became a beloved retreat for visitors from around the world. It offered a range of activities, from snorkeling and traditional outrigger canoeing to hula lessons and cultural experiences that celebrated the rich heritage of the Hawaiian Islands.


Unfortunately, the enchantment of Kona Village Resort came to an abrupt halt when it closed its doors unexpectedly. This closure left many guests and loyal patrons wondering what had happened to this once vibrant and idyllic destination.


In the next section, we will delve into the background of Kona Village Resort, exploring its history and the factors that made it a beloved landmark on the Kona Coast of Hawaii.


Background of Kona Village Resort

Located on the Big Island of Hawaii, Kona Village Resort was a haven of tranquility and natural beauty. It was originally established in 1965 by philanthropist John R. Emory with the vision of preserving the rich culture and heritage of the Hawaiian Islands. Emory drew inspiration from the traditional Hawaiian fishing village and created a unique resort that blended seamlessly with its surroundings.


The resort was situated on 82 acres of stunning oceanfront property, boasting pristine white sandy beaches, lush tropical gardens, and crystal-clear waters. Kona Village Resort featured 125 individual thatched-roof bungalows, called hales, which were scattered throughout the property, offering guests privacy and seclusion.


Each hale was meticulously designed to reflect the traditional Polynesian architecture, with open-air lanais, thatched roofs, and hand-carved furnishings. The resort emphasized a back-to-nature approach, with no televisions or telephones in the hales, allowing guests to disconnect from the outside world and fully immerse themselves in the serene surroundings.


Kona Village Resort quickly gained a reputation for its exceptional service and authentic Hawaiian experiences. From the moment guests arrived, they were welcomed with a warm aloha spirit and treated like ohana, or family. The resort offered a range of activities and amenities, including a spa, swimming pools, tennis courts, and various dining options.


One of the unique features of the resort was the commitment to preserving the natural environment and cultural heritage of Hawaii. Kona Village Resort partnered with local artisans and experts to provide guests with educational experiences, such as lei making, traditional Hawaiian cooking classes, and hula dancing lessons.


Throughout the years, Kona Village Resort became a beloved destination for guests seeking an authentic and immersive Hawaiian vacation. It was not only a place to relax and rejuvenate but also a place to connect with the rich history and culture of the Hawaiian Islands.


Unfortunately, despite its popularity and loyal following, Kona Village Resort faced unexpected challenges that ultimately led to its closure. In the next section, we will explore the factors that contributed to the closure of this beloved resort.


Closure of Kona Village Resort

In 2011, Kona Village Resort announced its sudden closure, leaving both employees and guests shocked. The news of the closure came as a surprise to many, as the resort had been operating successfully for decades.


The closure of Kona Village Resort was a result of a devastating double blow. Firstly, the resort was severely impacted by the global economic recession that began in 2008. The downturn in the economy led to a decrease in tourism, causing a significant decline in bookings and revenue for the resort.


Secondly, Kona Village Resort experienced a major setback when it was hit by a natural disaster. In 2011, a powerful tsunami resulting from the Tohoku earthquake in Japan caused extensive damage to the resort. The tsunami waves caused significant destruction to the property, including the hales, restaurants, and common areas.


The combination of the economic downturn and the destruction caused by the tsunami made it financially unfeasible for Kona Village Resort to continue operations. The resort had to make the difficult decision to close its doors and suspend all future reservations indefinitely.


While the closure was necessary to assess the extent of the damage and determine the feasibility of repairs, it was a heartbreaking moment for the staff, guests, and the local community who had formed deep connections with the resort.


As a result of the closure, the employees of Kona Village Resort were laid off, and the once-vibrant property was left in a state of uncertainty. Visitors who had booked their dream vacations were left devastated and had to seek alternative accommodations.


In the next section, we will discuss the reasons behind the closure of Kona Village Resort in more detail, as well as the impact it had on the local community and the tourism industry on the Big Island of Hawaii.


Reasons for the Closure

The closure of Kona Village Resort was not a decision taken lightly, as the resort had enjoyed a long history of success and popularity among travelers. However, several factors ultimately led to its unfortunate closure.


The global economic recession that began in 2008 played a significant role in the decline of Kona Village Resort. The recession led to a decrease in travel and tourism, as individuals and families tightened their budgets and reduced discretionary spending. This decline in bookings and revenue severely impacted the resort’s financial viability. Despite efforts to attract guests with promotional offers and packages, the decline in demand made it challenging for the resort to sustain its operations.


Additionally, the resort faced a major setback when it was struck by a devastating tsunami in 2011. The tsunami caused significant damage to the property, including the destruction of hales, restaurants, and common areas. The extensive repairs and renovations required to restore the resort would have incurred substantial costs, making it financially unfeasible for the resort to continue operations.


Furthermore, the location of Kona Village Resort itself presented challenges. While the serene and secluded setting was a draw for many guests, it also made accessibility a concern. The resort was located away from major transportation hubs, and the limited availability of direct flights to the Big Island made it less convenient for some travelers. This, combined with the decline in tourism, made it harder for the resort to attract a steady stream of guests.


Another factor that contributed to the closure was the competition from other hospitality establishments in the area. Over the years, new resorts and hotels had emerged on the Kona Coast, offering modern amenities, luxurious accommodations, and competitive rates. These alternatives presented attractive options for travelers seeking a Hawaiian getaway, putting additional pressure on Kona Village Resort to stand out in a saturated market.


Collectively, the economic recession, the devastation caused by the tsunami, the location challenges, and increased competition ultimately led to the difficult decision to close Kona Village Resort. Despite its rich history and loyal following, the resort was unable to overcome these hurdles and sustain its operations.


In the next section, we will explore the current status of Kona Village Resort and the efforts being made to revive this beloved destination.


Current Status of Kona Village Resort

Since its closure in 2011, Kona Village Resort has remained shuttered, leaving behind memories of its once vibrant and captivating atmosphere. The property has undergone minimal activity during this time, as the focus shifted towards assessing the damage caused by the tsunami and exploring options for the resort’s future.


Efforts have been made to secure the property and prevent further deterioration. The owners have taken steps to maintain the gardens, preserve the existing structures, and protect the natural beauty of the surrounding area. While the resort stands silent, it retains its allure and holds the potential for a magnificent revival.


Over the years, various developers have expressed interest in reopening Kona Village Resort, recognizing its unique charm and the demand for an authentic Hawaiian experience. The challenge lies in the significant investment required to restore and update the property to meet modern standards while preserving its traditional character.


Recent news suggests that progress is being made towards reopening the resort. Ownership of Kona Village Resort has changed hands, with a renowned hospitality company taking over the property. This new owner has expressed a commitment to preserving the resort’s heritage and revitalizing it as a premier destination for discerning travelers seeking an authentic Hawaiian getaway.


Plans are underway to carefully restore the resort, incorporating sustainable practices to minimize the environmental impact and engage with the local community to ensure a positive social and cultural influence in the area.


The process of reopening Kona Village Resort is complex and involves collaboration with local authorities, environmental impact assessments, and careful consideration of the cultural significance of the site. The aim is to strike a balance between preserving the legacy of the resort and introducing modern amenities and services that cater to the evolving preferences of travelers.


While an official reopening date has not been announced, the progress made so far brings hope for the future of Kona Village Resort. Once revived, it will once again invite guests to experience the magic of the Kona Coast, immerse themselves in Hawaiian culture, and create memories to last a lifetime.


In the concluding section, we will wrap up our discussion on Kona Village Resort and reflect on the significance of its revival for the tourism industry and the local community.


Efforts to Reopen the Resort

The closure of Kona Village Resort left a void in the hearts of many who cherished their time at this enchanted Hawaiian getaway. Fortunately, efforts are underway to revive the resort and restore its former glory.


Under new ownership, comprehensive plans are being developed to reopen Kona Village Resort, taking into account the unique character and cultural significance of the property. The new owners are committed to preserving the resort’s rich history while infusing it with modern amenities and sustainable practices.


The revitalization efforts include extensive renovations and upgrades to restore the property to its original beauty and ensure a high-quality guest experience. This involves repairing and rebuilding the hales, enhancing the common areas, and improving infrastructure to meet the expectations of modern travelers.


Environmental sustainability is also a crucial focus in the reopening efforts. The new owners are dedicated to implementing eco-friendly practices to minimize the resort’s impact on the surrounding natural environment. This includes utilizing renewable energy sources, reducing waste, and promoting conservation initiatives.


In addition to the physical transformation, there is a strong emphasis on engaging with the local community and honoring the cultural heritage of the Hawaiian Islands. Collaborations with local artisans, experts, and cultural ambassadors will provide guests with authentic Hawaiian experiences and foster meaningful connections to the local culture and traditions.


While the exact timeline for reopening Kona Village Resort remains undisclosed, the progress being made indicates a commitment to ensuring that the revival of this cherished destination is done thoughtfully and meticulously. The owners understand the importance of not just reopening the resort, but also reestablishing its place as a beloved and iconic landmark on the Kona Coast.


Once reopened, Kona Village Resort has the potential to reignite the imaginations of travelers seeking an immersive and culturally rich Hawaiian experience. It will invite guests to unwind in the comfort of beautifully restored hales, indulge in authentic cuisines, and partake in a variety of recreational activities designed to showcase the unique natural beauty of the area.


The reopening of Kona Village Resort is not only significant for those seeking a luxurious and rejuvenating retreat but also for the local community and the tourism industry on the Big Island of Hawaii. The revival of the resort will undoubtedly create employment opportunities, boost the local economy, and bring attention to the unique cultural heritage of the area.


As the efforts to reopen Kona Village Resort continue to progress, anticipation and excitement build among previous guests, locals, and travelers who are eager to once again experience the enchantment of this iconic Hawaiian destination.


In the concluding section, we will reflect on the journey of Kona Village Resort and the potential impact of its revival.



The story of Kona Village Resort is one of enchantment, resilience, and hope. From its humble beginnings as a vision of preserving Hawaiian culture to its unexpected closure and the ongoing efforts to revive it, this iconic resort has left an indelible mark on the hearts of those who have experienced its magic.


While the closure of Kona Village Resort was a result of various challenges, including the global economic recession and the devastating tsunami, its closure did not diminish its significance or the treasured memories it holds for many. The resort’s unique blend of traditional Polynesian architecture, authentic Hawaiian experiences, and breathtaking natural beauty captivated guests from around the world.


With new ownership at the helm and a commitment to preserving the heritage and charm of the resort, there is renewed hope for the future of Kona Village Resort. The ongoing efforts to restore and reopen the property demonstrate the dedication to creating a truly remarkable Hawaiian destination that will capture the hearts of modern travelers.


The revival of Kona Village Resort holds promise not only for future guests seeking an immersive and culturally rich experience but also for the local community and the tourism industry on the Big Island of Hawaii. The reopening of the resort will bring much-needed employment opportunities, economic growth, and cultural enrichment to the area.


As we anticipate the day when the doors of Kona Village Resort will once again open, we reflect on the memories created, the connections formed, and the impact this beloved resort has had on the lives of those who have been fortunate enough to experience it. The journey of Kona Village Resort is a testament to the enduring allure of the Hawaiian Islands and the desire to preserve and share their beauty with the world.