By Samantha Myers

This is an extended version of an article originally in Unique Homes Ultimate 2017Click here to view the print version. Also check out our breaking story on Kohanaiki’s clubhouse from February 2017.

There’s nothing like stepping out of a pressurized plane cabin into Big Island’s pacific breeze. But Kohanaiki — a private club community only two miles from Kona International Airport — takes that refreshment a step further. Handed lava rock-filtered water and a chilled towelette in a private shuttle, we headed to the source of this impeccable service — a place both breathtaking, and where you can catch your breath.

Like most homesites on Kohanaiki, our 3-bedroom hale offered an inland backdrop of Hualālai’s mountains and views extending to the pristine coastline. A tour of the 450-acre property via electric golf carts, the main form of transportation on property, and a walk-through of the brand-new, 67,000-square-foot clubhouse provided a true understanding of life here.

“The Kohala Coast of Big Island is famous for its year-round sunny, tropical vacation weather,” says James Lynch, sales executive for Kohanaiki Realty, LLC. “It’s a perfect environment for indoor-outdoor living.” Kohanaiki’s distinct architectural style, a contemporary interpretation of traditional Hawaiian design, was developed by a handful of esteemed architects. The sleek, atmospheric outdoor-orientated architecture is not only a selling point for its available homesites, but is also a paradise-like setting for its amenities.

With our freshly caught cuisine enjoyed at the signature open-wall sushi bar and chophouse Kōnane, and beach dining with seating that spills onto the white-sand beach, the open-air became our dining room.”This is a setting where shoes are optional, as life can be lived here pure and natural,” Lynch adds.

A tour around the Rees Jones-designed golf course offers ideal vantage points of the carefully planned and preserved landscape — where smooth greens interlace with black volcanic rock, environmentally protected anchialine ponds, ancient sites and six masterful oceanfront holes for golfers. You gain an appreciation of the land and what Kohanaiki has done to both preserve and accentuate its features while at the same time providing a comfortable lifestyle for its members.

“Kohanaiki appeals to people with a taste for adventure, an appreciation for the finer things in life, and a desire for a laid-back environment,” says President and CEO Joe Root. If you’re craving indoor activity on a rainy day, you’ll have to imagine the rain. But the clubhouse offers a fitness center, movie theater, bowling alley, bar and secret cigar lounge among other hidden treasures.

The shores are some of the best snorkeling and surfing spots on the island, and our time with the “A-Team” — expert ocean sport guides — set us up with snorkels and paddleboards instructing us to the best spots to see marine life. We didn’t have to stray far before we were swimming alongside schools of bright fish and watching a sea turtle dance around the reef. The next day, our charter on Kohanaiki’s yacht, the Kaikea, let us swim alongside thirty-plus dolphins and gave us front-row seats to a humpback whale show while enjoying breakfast on the boat.


In between water sports, we were able to visit the spa, which offers an extensive menu of treatments. We opted for a couple’s spa treatment in a heavenly private courtyard — the “Botany of Bliss” — which included a soak in a custom-blended herbal outdoor bath for two, followed by individual La’i massages.

The comfort provided by the spa and locker rooms was even unexpectedly rivaled by the golf “comfort stations” located throughout the property. These stations provide an air-conditioned retreat during a round of golf or a tennis match, and are fully stocked with any type of snack or treat imaginable, as well as frozen mai tai machines and cold wine and beer. One may find themselves spending more time here than out on the course.

While luxurious relaxation prevails in any corner of the property, our tour with Joe around Kohanaiki showed us details that one may not notice upon first glance, or on their own explorations. This included the wide-range of art celebrating the Hawaiian heritage and the history of Kohanaiki’s property. The collection includes over 200 art pieces, including prints, paintings and artifacts. “The clubhouse features one of the most robust and extensive collections of authentic, museum-quality art pieces on the island,” says Root. “It was important to give the clubhouse a sense of place through this robust collection of artwork. We have been collecting any of these pieces over the past decade, and are pleased with how they seem to weave in seamlessly with the design of the clubhouse and help to give it the character and historical context that make it so much more than just a building.”

A visit to the wine tasting room revealed a collection of rare vintage wines — 50 years worth of Château Mouton Rothschild — among some of the resident’s wine lockers, which are located throughout the property, especially around the eating spots. Residents can have a bottle of wine handy at any given moment. Kohanaiki has made it a priority to bring wine to their residents, a drink not as common on an island location due to costs of importation. While we were visiting, we attended a beachside wine dinner collaboration between Kohanaiki and Kosta Browne Winery, from California. Enjoyed with other members, the four-course meal featured pairings with 2013 and 2014 Russian River Valley Pinor Noirs (and others) alongside a delicious, delicate menu including crispy seared snapper and a dish of duck breast, confit and Colorado lamb. For dessert, it was a Tahitian vanilla bean crème brûlée enjoyed with a remarkable 40-year-old Tawny Port.

“Our membership is the best part of Kohanaiki,” says Root. “We have attracted an incredible group of well-traveled, sophisticated and successful people who have chosen Kohanaiki as their place to disconnect and just have fun with their friends and family.” With a $150,000 entrance fee and $25,000 annual membership fee, Kohanaiki is at the forefront of full-service luxurious living.

“In most cases these homes are our members second or even third homes. We try and make multiple home-ownership as easy as possible with our residential services program,” says General Manager George Punoose. “We take care of your entire pre-arrival, stay and post-departure experience by attending to all aspects of your home — housekeeping, landscaping, pool care and even grocery shopping.” Our visit to Kohanaiki was a testament to this service — upon our arrival, the fridge and pantry were fully stocked with over a week’s worth of groceries, the home was lit up and an iPad was connected to a sound system playing the ideal relaxing vacation music you’d want to hear upon arriving in paradise.

Just some of the many residential options at Kohanaiki.

The property puts being social and incorporating family as primary ideals for their membership. “We are a family friendly resort and we’ve attracted families small and large, with parents and grandparents seeing this place as something their family will enjoy for generations,” says Root. “Kohanaiki uses vertical memberships that enable siblings, children and grandparents to be full members of the club. Whatever we can do to make it easier for families to come together is a good thing.”

The philosophies of Kohanaiki, instituted by a stellar team, have been reciprocated by the public. Kohanaiki is one of the hottest new luxury residential spots to own property on, not only on Hawaii, but anywhere — and they have the celebrity clientele and sales to prove it. “The recent grand opening of the new clubhouse was a key milestone validating Kohanaiki as the premier private, gated community in the Hawaiian Islands, resulting in record-breaking sales of over $60 million over the past 60 days,” says Lynch.

“Our members are a sophisticated set that have traveled and experienced the finest things in life,” says Punoose. “Our goal here is to still exceed their high expectations.” Here, at Kohanaiki, attention to detail is not sufficient. Instead, a staff that masters the details awaits Kohanaiki’s fortunate members who retreat in this otherworldly community.

Kohanaiki offers two ownership options: custom homesites where you can purchase a plot of land and build your own home, or choose a home from a full-range of turnkey and fully furnished developer-built homes in various sizes, styles and configurations. Kohanaiki also offers fee-simple real estate ownership. Fee-simple means that the real estate is owned forever in perpetuity and can be passed down from generation to generation. Less than 5% of all the land in the Hawaiian Islands is available for fee simple ownership, therefore, Kohanaiki represents a rare opportunity for families to own in a world-class oceanfront community here in the islands and build long-term legacy wealth.

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