Reading Walter Isaacson’s biography of Apple founder Steve Jobs was fascinating to me for many reasons. First, I am a big fan of all things Apple. Jobs completely transformed so many aspects of our lives through his visionary leadership at Apple including computers, phones, how we listen to music, publishing and more. I was intrigued when I learned that Jobs also found a visit to Hawaii a rejuvenating experience. In the book, I learned how Jobs would visit the Big Island and specifically the Kona Village Resort.
These photos of the grounds on the Kona Village are from 2004. They are somewhat grainy as they are scanned images from a camera no longer with us. Although we never stayed at Kona Village, we were lucky to have a tour of this special place.
Kona Village opened in 1961. It was different from any resort we have ever visited. No televisions. No air conditioning (you don’t need it here with the ocean breezes). No phones (easier to accomplish before cell phones, but still admirable). No tall buildings or high-rises on this 82-acre slice of paradise. Your room was a Polynesian-inspired thatched bungalow. Meals were served in a gorgeous building in a group setting. Enchanting. Old Hawaii.
We were even told that at one time, they had their own runway for private airplanes visiting the resort. This was not the fanciest or most high-tech place to stay. This was the Big Island at its best—surrounded by natural beauty and the relaxation and serenity that come with it.
The Hawaiians have a beautiful word for family. It’s ohana. Ohana, to me, perfectly describes the feeling of this resort. Now the sad part. It is currently closed and has been since March 2011, when it suffered significant property and structural damage from an earthquake-generated tsunami.
Over the years, we have met people who made this their family trip and had returned to the Kona Village for decades. We’re talking generations of grandparents, children and grandchildren gathering for an annual or bi-annual gathering at the Kona Village. The very meaning of ohana as the staff would get to personally know and care for these families over the years.
The Kona Village website tells us that the goal is to one day open the resort again and that repairs are in process, certainly a huge and complex project. I know that there are many people hoping and waiting for that day to arrive. Until then, the resort operators worked with the Governor of Hawaii and nearby hotels to help the employees find jobs at other nearby resorts. It’s my understanding that a number of resorts, including the nearby Four Seasons Resort Hawaii at Hualalai, have employed the Kona Village’s former employees.
Hopefully, I will be able to write an update someday that the Kona Village is once again open. It is truly a special, one-of-a-kind place on a special, one-of-a-kind island.