Serenity awaits guests at this Big Island getaway
We always seem to get back from a vacation feeling like we need another vacation.
Not the case on a recent trip to Kona village. it’s the ultimate relaxation destination with only one requirement: You disconnect from the stresses of everyday life, decompress and simply enjoy.
That’s exactly what my husband and i were looking for when we flew in for our stay.
Located on the beautiful Kohala coast, Kona village is a luxurious 82-acre ancient Hawaiian fishing village with just 125 private thatched-roof Hale (bungalows), making it a low-density private resort without the fuss often associated with today’s technologically driven world.
There’s a strict “no cell phone outside of your hale” rule, which general manager Ulrich Krauer tells me is implemented not only by staff, but many guests as well.
“Many of our guests come every year, and they know the rules,” he says, “so they’re often the ones telling other guests that they shouldn’t be on their phones.”
The luxury of not having to listen to other people’s conversations while you’re enjoying dinner or sunning on the beach is just one of the reasons guests keep coming back. Or, in my case, listening to my husband talk on his cell phone – for work, of course – while we’re having dinner.
“What makes us unique is the many things that we really don’t have,” adds Krauer. “There’s no Tv, no cell phones, no distractions, so you’ve got to connect with each other.”
Our stay at Kona village was everything our day-to-day living isn’t. it was the ultimate escape.
There was no alarm clock to wake us, only the sound of the waves crashing on the shore and sun peeking through the window. There were no hectic mornings getting children dressed and fed for school, no traffic, no appointments, no deadlines and no phone calls.
Wow, we thought, this is what it’s like to have no obligations and no worries.
We began our stay with a brief tour of the property before we were brought to our hale. We’ve stayed at many resorts that boast an ocean view, but none was ever like this. We spent our first few minutes just soaking in the beauty of the ocean in the comfort and privacy of our lanai, while enjoying a complimentary platter of fresh pineapple, strawberries and macadamia nuts.
We then proceeded to gather our valuables and cell phones, as we were instructed, and locked them in our personal safe. No money or cell phone for two days? We were a bit skeptical.
We were told there are three reasons for locking up the wallets and cell phones: 1) No need for money, because the meals at Kona village are all-inclusive; 2) having no cell phones eliminates distractions (or, for some, temptations); and 3) it’s also for peace of mind because the hales are designed with no locks on the outside. and with no access to a phone, each hale is equipped with an outdoor notepad, on which staff and guests can relay messages. and for privacy, there’s a coconut to place on your doorstep. after checking out the property map and a list of on-site activities, we decided to take a stroll to the black sand beach, which was just a few steps outside of our hale. There we saw a turtle lying comfortably in the sand. We, of course, took pictures for our daughters to see later, and then opted for the hammock view of the turtles, where we discussed what to do next.
The unanimous decision was an afternoon alternating among the pool, jacuzzi and Shipwreck Bar. it was a great choice. When in Hawaii, do as the Hawaiians would do, right?
Well, sort of. With that in mind, we ordered fun tropical drinks we normally would never drink, and took amusement in the native Hawaiian Francolin birds chasing each other around. after we had our fill of birds, swimming and drinks, we headed back to our hale to freshen up for dinner. The walk was just beautiful. The paths are unpaved and instead filled with sand. all the signs are crafted of wood. and everywhere you look there are coconut trees, naupaka bushes and beautiful blue skies. it’s exactly what the property name suggests – a village.
Everything was fresh, authentic and just right. We appreciated the brilliant balance between ancient Hawaii and modern day. it was like the goddess Pele and Donald Trump sat down to discuss the plans for this place.
Dinner at Hale Moana was truly special. When i heard all-inclusive dining, i immediately thought of a buffet with the usual fare. instead it was an elegant sit-down dining experience, on par with some of the best restaurants we’ve ever visited. it was odd to look at a menu filled with extravagant dishes with no prices. We were told the menu is intended as a four- to six-course experience because the portions are designed a little smaller.
This i loved because normally i am stuck deciding between an entree or appetizer and salad, because i can never handle all three.
So i went for it. i ordered the Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Gingered vegetable Soup, Split-Tail Lobster and Pineapple Fritters.
The soup was by far the highlight of my evening. it was perfect and exactly what its name suggested. i was beginning to see a trend here: The longer we stayed at Kona village, the more i realized everything about the place is intentional and honest. it suggested the frills and fuss are sometimes only distractions from what is actually desired. it also was great to see a menu filled with local products. it’s a partnership with the community to which Ulrich says Kona village has always been committed and is constantly working to expand.
“We make flour out of kiawe beans to make pancakes, and we’re experimenting with that more and more,” explains Ulrich. “For me, today when you talk about being green, you buy from people who live here. Our lobster is from 10 minutes away. How much fresher can you say fresh is?” in fact, being eco-friendly has never been a “trend” at Kona village, but a way of doing business. Since opening in 1965, Kona village has used “green” practices in its landscaping philosophies, including its recycled roofing materials.
The following day, we decided we would take a stroll through the property, particularly to visit the brackish fishponds and the ancient Hawaiian ki’i pohaku (petroglyphs).
Having grown up on the Big island, both my husband and i have seen petroglyphs on school field trips and family outings, but never like this. in efforts to preserve the estimated 900-year-old petroglyphs, the Ala Hele Papa (boardwalk) was constructed in 1998. it is a great way to view these ancient markings, especially with the provided numbered map with descriptions of each drawing.
Before we knew it, it was time to head back to reality and board a plane to Oahu. But not before i hugged my husband and asked, “We’ll come back, right?”
We agreed we owe it to ourselves and each other to make a trip back at least once more. Our stay allowed us time we never seem to have in our daily lives to really connect with each other. i would go back if for nothing more than the undivided attention i received from my husband – no work, no conference calls, no ESPN, no meetings … just me.
What else could a girl want?