In a striking blend of historic preservation and cutting-edge design, Kona Village, A Rosewood Resort has been reimagined. Located on the sacred lands of Kaupulehu—Hawaii’s largest island—the resort’s second chapter draws inspiration from the nuances of the destination as well as characteristics of the original property.
Hawaii-raised architect Greg Warner of Walker Warner Architects and San Francisco-based design firm NICOLEHOLLIS led the seven-year development process, which brought together the insights of local artists, craftsmen, environmentalists, engineers, and cultural and community leaders to strike a balance between past, present, and future.
“More than most, the design and development of this project had so much to do with responsibility, or Kuleana,” says Warner. “Responsibilities to our client, of course, but perhaps more so regarding the care and respect for this incredibly unique and special place here.”
Design decisions reflect a commitment to minimizing disruption to the land. A collaborative demolition process with nonprofit organization Re-Use Hawaiʻi ensured over 80 percent of materials from the original buildings were salvaged and repurposed. New constructions honor the original property’s style while incorporating sustainability standards. Iconic features of the original resort, such as the single hale layout and the property’s silhouette, have been carefully preserved and enhanced.
Walker Warner strategically arranged guest hale (traditional Hawaiian housing structures) in village-like crescents around the resort—placing dining, wellness, and recreational facilities at the center. This configuration reinstates the original property’s convivial, summer camp-like environment while ensuring low-impact, harmonious interaction with the surroundings.
The interior design concept enhances the architectural work by creating indoor-outdoor retreats that extend the natural beauty beyond the walls of the guest hale. Custom furnishings, site-specific color schemes, and commissioned art pieces by native and resident Hawaiians meld together to tell a layered story. NICOLEHOLLIS also incorporated a range of inviting materials, including scraped wood floors and Douglas fir walls and ceilings.
“Our design is intended to showcase the island’s rich cultural history, while paying homage to its natural heritage—all while raising up the many talented artists and artisans who call the Big Island home,” says Nicole Hollis, founder of NICOLEHOLLIS.