Kona Village Resort, with the original tagline of Hawaii’s Favorite Hideaway, was an endeared getaway for many decades, with guests that would religiously frequent at least once or twice a year. The lo-fi, casual island simplicity of the resort was coupled with a rare familial tie between staff and guests established through profound warmth of local hoʻokipa (hospitality of complete giving).
Aunti Lei, a beloved former Kona Village associate and current cultural advisor, is an integral thread in the resort’s identity, weaving together past and present and ensuring the old ways – the timeless and uniquely Hawaiian perspectives – are preserved for future guests.
Hawai’i became a hub of tourism by the sixties, and this was a paradise where you flew in on a plane. The plane would be coming, as that was the only way into the resort, and everybody would say “Oh, here comes the arrival!” Aunty Eleanor would be waiting right there with a lei, a Mai Tai in hand and saying, “Aloha, welcome to Kona Village.” As guests would get off the plane, they knew they entered a special place. You could just feel the energy that was so unique in this place.