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Kona Village, A Rosewood Resort Opens on Land Spanning Total of 81 Acres

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KAILUA-KONA, HAWAII—Officially open to guests last month, Kona Village, A Rosewood Resort is privileged to call the sacred land of Kaʻūpūlehu home. An inspired reimagination of the original Kona Village Resort, which first opened in the 1960s and subsequently shuttered in 2011, a familiar silhouette has returned to the island’s horizon. Real estate investment company Kennedy Wilson 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 stunning 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.

“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, Kennedy Wilson Chairman and CEO. “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.”

Respect for the Mana of the Land

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 proudly 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 Hawaii 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 Hawaii’s precious resources. Coupled with immersive programming and activities, including specialty experiences curated through the lens of Rosewood Explorers Keiki Club for kids, the center launches guests on journeys through the destination’s past, present, and future.

Forging a More Sustainable Path Forward

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 Hawaii, a nonprofit 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 percent 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 to have minimal effects on the destination’s supply.

Architecture & Design Rooted in Local Culture

Spearheaded by Hawaii-raised architect, Greg Warner of Walker Warner Architects, and San Francisco-based interior design firm, NICOLEHOLLIS, the property has been designed to highlight the history of Hawaii 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 Hawaii’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 Hawaii’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.

A Thoughtful Approach to Hawaiian Cuisine & Cocktails

Focused on fresh, local ingredients, international influences, and indigenous practices, Kona Village’s array of restaurants and bars add to Hawaii’s unique culinary landscape. From Moana, the resort’s signature restaurant featuring an elevated, Pacific Rim-to-table experience; to Kahuwai Cookhouse and Market, where traditional Hawaiian cooking techniques are on display, the dining program has been crafted as an extension of the destination experience. The beverage outposts provide a convivial way to connect with the past, and legacy guests will recognize the iconic Shipwreck and Talk Story Bars which have been lovingly restored and occupy enviable locations along the shoreline.

Connecting with Self & Surrounding

At the heart of Kona Village, Kahuwai Bay is the launchpad for the resort’s Kilo Kaior Ocean Pursuits program, which educates guests on the power of the wai. This appreciation of the ocean is woven through all water activities, with highlights including guided paddle using the traditional Hawaiian canoe. Additional recreational facilities include tennis, paddle, and bocce ball courts as well as a state-of-the-art fitness center, while the Hoʻokipa lawn and stage hosts Kona Village’s lū’au—traditional Hawaiian feasts that are now a way to celebrate life and its milestone moments. Just beyond, built into the black lava flow with views toward the Hualālai volcano, Asaya Spa at Kona Village, A Rosewood Resort offers a unique interpretation of Rosewood’s integrative wellness concept. With a menu of therapies inspired by the spiritual quality and natural landscape of Kaʻūpūlehu, Asaya Spa aims to connect guests with the resort’s location.

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