By Gwen Ashley Walters
Resort: Kona Village, Hawaii
Recipes: Asian-Style Grilled Lamb with Minted Mango Relish, and Chocolate Macadamia Nut Pie.
Going to Hawaii is like leaving the country...without leaving the country.
Other states may claim they're unique, but none seem so exotically foreign as Hawaii. This 1,500 mile archipelago actually consists of six inhabited islands, each with its own topography, history, and culture. Oahu is the most popular island, with more than 5 million visitors a year landing in the cosmopolitan city of Honolulu. The most diverse island is the southernmost, also named Hawaii.
Nicknamed "the Big Island," Hawaii is twice as large as all the other islands combined, and is home to 12 different climatic zones. Most famous for active volcanoes which continue to add to its landmass, the Big Island also boasts the largest private cattle ranch in the country and exports the world-renowned Kona coffee.
The Big Island holds another distinction as home to the only luxury resort in the state that captures the ancient Polynesian spirit —a true "fantasy island" resort known as Kona Village. Walk among the thatched-roof hales (Hawaiian for house) and you can feel the spirit of those who walked before you. Time is a thing of the past during a stay at this sprawling 82-acre resort, with lava landscapes, lush lagoons and a gorgeous crescent-shaped beach dotted with green sea turtles.
The 125 hales come in nine different styles and several floor plans within each style, intimate enough for honeymooners and large enough to house multiple families. Though oceanfront hales are the most expensive, the lagoon hales are favorites with returning guests who treasure the early morning visits from local waterfowl and the privacy of the lush tropical foliage.
Tropical breezes and ceiling fans cool the rooms and there are no phones, TVs or radios, which helps preserve the "island time" character of the village. A coconut shell placed in front of your hale serves as a do-not-disturb sign. Though it is tempting to lounge all day in the open air hale, the beach just steps away beckons. The village provides complimentary snorkeling gear, kayaks, sailboats and body boards for frolicking in the aquamarine bay.
Many guests never leave the property, although the island of Hawaii awaits exploration. The western half, where the village is located, is desert-like tundra with visible remains of old lava flows. The eastern half of the island is a tropical rain forest. It takes at least two days to explore the entire island. The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, located on the south central side of the island is approximately 2-1/2 hours from the village. Lava flows are difficult to see from the park, but easy to spot from a helicopter ride or a ship just offshore.
Kona Village operates on a full American plan, providing three plentiful meals a day. Breakfast and dinner are served in the casual family-dining restaurant, with lunch served buffet-style outside by the beach under open-air huts. A more romantic and formal dinner is available in the Hale Samoa restaurant, though some items carry a surcharge.
All dining venues are oceanside for incredible views, but the real treat is the meals, teeming with fresh island fish and tropical fruits. The Kona Village chefs have graciously shared their recipes for an Asian-style Grilled Lamb with Minted Mango Relish, along with a sinfully rich Chocolate Macadamia Nut Pie.
For nearly 30 years the resort on Friday nights has staged a lavish Luau, famous throughout the island. The Chefs roast a whole pig the traditional Hawaiian way, in an underground oven called an "imu". Following the feast is a Polynesian show with Hawaiian hula dancers and other performers. It's an exciting event that can't be missed.
There are many luxury properties on this island as well as throughout the Hawaiian Islands. There is only one, however, that captures the essence of old Hawaii. If you can't relax here, you probably can't relax anywhere.
P.O. Box 1299
Kailua-Kona, HI 96745 (USA)
Accommodations: 125 thatched-roof cottages.
Activities: Snorkeling, scuba diving, glass-bottom boat tours, catamaran sailing, tennis, fitness and spa center, children's program. Nearby golfing, deep-sea fishing, helicopter tours.
Rates: $480-$1,015 for 2 to 3 persons per night (includes 3 daily meals and airport transportation).
Copyright © 2001, Gwen Ashley Walters. All rights reserved.
Gwen Ashley Walters is cookbook author, cooking teacher, food writer and Certified Culinary Professional with a degree in Culinary Arts. Gwen's travel guide/cookbooks, The Great Ranch Cookbook, (1998) and The Cool Mountain Cookbook, (2001) were published by Pen & Fork Communications.
This page created April 2001