Hualalai Resort, Kukio or Kohanaiki – What’s the Difference?

A seller client of mine was telling me he’d been invited to play the new Rees Jones designed golf course at Kohanaiki – that would be the course you see to the south as you land at Kona airport. He enjoyed his day of oceanfront golf immensely, but wasn’t sure why he was invited, since he already owns a resort home on the Big Island. (Actually, he owns two luxury homes until I sell the one he has listed!)

I replied that since he is someone who lives most of the year at one of the Kohala Coast resorts, it was smart marketing for the Kohanaiki sales team to be sure he could report on Kohanaiki if a visitor asked him about it at his home course or favorite restaurant bar. “Sure,” he said, “but you tell me: why would someone choose to buy property at Kohanaiki versus Hulalai Resort or Kukio?

Kohanaiki golf course Rees Jones

Golf course at Kohanaiki has six of its 18 holes along the oceanfront and is designed to blend into the lava-strewn Kona landscape (MLS# 264099)

Difference #1: What’s For Sale at Kohanaiki?

The first thing to keep in mind is that while you can purchase a home at Hualalai or Kukio, currently the property for sale at Kohanaiki consists of custom home sites. There are some home-like structures visible as you fly over. 

Those are the units of the Hale Club, which are designed to allow buyers at Kohanaiki to enjoy the full recreational and dining amenities already available to Kohanaiki Club members, even before their home is built. Modeled on the Mayacama Club Residences in Sonoma County, membership is “by invitation only” meaning they are currently being offered as an incentive to early purchasers to make sure the community has a “lived in” feeling.

The Hale Club is located next to the elevated second tier of lots, overlooking the first tier level and the 16th hole of the golf course, next to where the main clubhouse will eventually be built.

Six lots have already been sold and two more are in escrow at prices ranging from an entry-level $910,000 for Lot 6 next to the community organic farm (yes, you read that right) to $4,410,000 for Lot 23, front row below the Hale Club with perfect sunset views.

Hale Club home at Kohanaiki, Kona

Hale Club homes at Kohanaiki come with 1 to 4-bedrooms, fully furnished for member stays

The developer does plan to sell some built product, paired homes of two and three-bedrooms designed by Honolulu-based architect Warren Sunnland. Plus, they will offer single family home designs, for which the sale would consist of a lot plus a construction contract to break ground as soon as the lot sale closes.

But for now the first difference to remember between the luxury communities of Hualalai, Kukio, and Kohanaiki is whether or not there are actual homes for sale.

Difference #2: Location, Location, Location

When I was a developer sales rep, I learned the motto, “if you can’t change it, feature it.” So let’s get the location issue right out on the table, as guaranteed it must be what the sales teams at Hualalai and Kukio resorts are selling against.

Hualalai Resort and Kukio were built six or seven miles north of Kailua-Kona with their center of gravity being beautiful white-sand beaches that – while technically open to the public – enjoy a great deal of privacy for members.

The beach in front of the Kohanaiki amenities is the public Kohanaiki Beach Park (locally known by the name of its surf spot “Pine Trees”), improved by Kohanaiki Shores LLC in return for the right to develop the luxury 500-home community at this location. That means that Kohanaiki residents will rub shoulders with local surfers and families camping (by permit) on the beach.

Kohanaiki buyers won’t care. Everything I learned at Hawaii Life’s Worthshop #2 last August tells me the developers have done their homework as they designed the project for its location. 

The Kohanaiki developers are seeking the affluent buyer who:

  • believes that lifestyle shapes contemporary design
  • cares about a healthy and sustainable lifestyle (you can grow your own vegetables in the community garden that serves the restaurant and the project has a reverse-osmosis water system)
  • is amenities-driven more than exclusivity-driven
  • prefers a low-maintenance property so they can focus on their family, friends, and shared experience when they visit each of their far-flung homes, rather than on the property’s upkeep

Kohanaiki amenities

Kayaks stashed by the Adventure Team to paddle Kohanaiki members to nearby beach spots

That’s why at Kohanaiki they’ve opened the amenities first, and have a smiling “Adventure Team” in place who come from Hualalai and Kukio ready to offer members and guests the best the Big Island has to offer – on or off property. They’ll teach you to surf or paddle; take you horseback riding or deep sea fishing.

Kohanaiki’s equity club membership fee, annual homeowners association and club dues will be set at a fraction of the Hualalai and Kukio numbers. Kohanaiki members are likely to be those who travel with multiple generations of their family – and all are included in the membership. So are unaccompanied guests (including renters some day), unlike the Kukio structure.

Summarizing the Difference: Why Buy Property at Kohanaiki, Hualalai or Kukio?

Let’s put it simply:

  • Kukio members value exclusivity.
  • Hualalai provides a private community with a strong flavor of Hawaiian culture and values, within a larger resort anchored by a hotel.
  • Kohanaiki is promising a more casual, amenity-driven Big Island luxury real estate experience.

Construction at Kohanaiki resort

Did I mention developer incentives are available to early purchasers who don’t mind the dust?

By the way, you won’t see the available Kohanaiki properties listed online, and there is no negotiating on price. So you could go directly to the developer’s sales office. Or if you want to compare your options and figure out which resort – or non-resort property – is right for you, feel free to contact me.

A hui hou,

Beth Thoma Robinson R(B)
Direct: 808.443.4588

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3 Responses to “Hualalai Resort, Kukio or Kohanaiki – What’s the Difference?”

  1. Todd W Barrett, RS, ABR
    September 3, 2013 at 12:23 pm #

    Great blog Beth! As always your insight into the particulars is outstanding.

  2. Beth Thoma Robinson R(B)
    September 3, 2013 at 12:35 pm #

    Thanks, Todd. My biggest challenge in writing is always figuring out which particulars to omit!

  3. Pam Deery, R(B)
    September 12, 2013 at 5:37 am #

    Very clear and insightful. Your article will be a keeper for years for realtors as well as buyers!

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