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Saturday, January 31, 2004



Big Isle resort
gets facelift

Kamehameha Schools will put
new emphasis on Hawaiian culture
at its Keauhou Resort


KEAUHOU, Hawaii >> Kamehameha Schools plans to rejuvenate its four-decade-old Keauhou Resort south of Kailua-Kona with an emphasis on education and Hawaiian culture, trust officials announced yesterday.

A new master plan for the 2,400-acre area calls for residential development and an educational enrichment center for children and adults, although not a Kamehameha Schools-style campus. A Hawaiian cultural center is also planned where artisans could make and sell items, among other activities.

"Kamehameha's educational and cultural presence in Keauhou will remain a significant part of the resort's identity," said Susan Todani, Kamehameha Schools' director of investments who has responsibility for coordinating the master plan.

The cultural and education attractions would be grouped around the small Keauhou and Kahaluu bays, providing opportunities for sea-based activities such as excursions with canoes like Hokule'a, said Kamehameha spokesman Kekoa Paulsen.

No estimate of the cost was announced, in part because details are still uncertain.

The new plan calls for fewer housing units than in previous plans, but home and condominium prices will be higher than previously envisioned.

Although more expensive, residential prices would still be lower than the multimillion-dollar homes typically found clustered around resorts in South Kohala, north of Kailua-Kona.

The announcement was made by Todani, Louis Kau, president of Kamehameha Investment Corp., and other Kamehameha officials.

Because Kamehameha Schools is a nonprofit charitable entity, it cannot engage directly in for-profit development. Kamehameha Investment is the for-profit subsidiary of the organization.

For example, a development partner will be sought to assist Kamehameha, Kau said. Investment advisory company Secured Capital Corp. has been retained to assist in finding a partner, which is expected to be selected in six to eight months.

While resorts north of Kailua-Kona have been largely aimed at the upscale market, Keauhou Resort has always been middle class and without a distinct identity to distinguish it from Kailua-Kona, six miles to the north.

The new plan is designed to enhance the identity, Kamehameha officials said.

"It recognizes the importance of this special place in the history and traditions of the Hawaiian people, and it brings this experience to the forehand to be shared with everyone coming into Keauhou," said Kamehameha Vice President Kirk Busby.

As culture is emphasized, a reliance on hotels will be lessened. The Kona Lagoon Hotel, closed in 1988, will be demolished in May, and the shoreline site will be left open.

But the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort, formerly the Kona Surf, is undergoing a $40 million renovation, and the Ohana Keauhou Beach Resort has already been renovated.


art

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