Kona Village was closed after the March 11, 2011 tsunami caused by a Japan earthquake which damaged the property and structure. Some have estimated the damage at around $20-30 million dollars. In May 2012, a New York-based corporation filed a foreclosure suit for $86 million dollars, claiming the resort owners have failed to repay the loan at full maturity. Kamehameha Schools also filed a notice of default, as Kona Village Investments holds the ground lease for the land on which the resort lies. The 2 lenders controlling the insurance payout decided not to release funds that could go towards rebuilding the resort, which many believe led to the laying off the resort’s remaining employees. Several employees were hired by the resort’s parent company, Four Seasons, to work in their other hotels.
Despite all the obstacles, fans are very optimistic that the resort will open again soon. Final plan approvals for repairs were extended to December 14, 2015. For posts of memories of visitors who stayed there, news, and updates, visit the “Save Kona Village” Facebook fan page. The page has over 5,000 likes.
Michael Dell of Dell computers owns the Kona Village Resort. Pat Fitzgerald is the president and CEO.
Many wonder if it will be rebuilt in the same style as the old village. To be profitable, some believe the rates need to increase. To attract more visitors, new changes incude a new spa, new arrival pavillion, boutique, small convention center, newer luau areas, new reception area, new guest laundry area, and new administration building. There will also be rebuilding of damaged bungalows, all the resort’s pools and bars, the resort’s Hale Samoa and Hale Moana, and repairs to the 1960’s infrastructure to bring the resort up to code. The improvements may change the feel of the resort that past visitors loved, but many think the changes are needed.
Rebuilding has begun! The repairs began with the utilities, and a trench for each utility had to be craved through lava. Kona Village Resort does not need to get a new building permit, however, any structures within 40 feet of the high water mark need to match the old structure, but follow modern building codes. The county does need to approve plans.
The Village was built on Kahuwai Bay in 1965 by Johnno Jackson and his wife, Helen. They wanted the resort to feel distinctly Polynesian. The resort has 125 thatched-roof bungalows, also known as “hales.” The resort gave a feeling of solitude, a relaxed pace, and a low-key atmosphere.