For seventeen years my wife and I have been going to the Four Seasons Hualalai, on Hawaii Island [known as the Big Island] for a month every winter. The beach in front of it is full of lava rock and unswimmable, but the next door resort, much older than the Four Seasons and indeed than the highway, is called Kona Village and has a sheltered beach where one can actually swim in the ocean and launch canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards. The water at that spot is certainly rough compared to Newport Bay or any lagoon, but by Hawaii standards it is quite sheltered. The concession for both hotels was there, and I had my first stand up paddleboard lessons there four years ago, in a tougher school than my later lessons in Newport Harbor. Thus I learned my favorite sport, one that I love and that distracts me, it must be confessed, from doing more regular posting on this blog! Many a day do I have posts on my head, but the water beckons.
In 2006 a corporation partly owned by Texan software entrepreneur Michael Dell bought the Four Seasons, though the Four Seasons continues to manage the hotel, I assure you. The following year another corporation partly owned by the same Michael Dell bought the adjoining Kona Village. There was some uncertainty about their intent; were they going to expand the Four Seasons into the iconic Kona Village, or not?
Then, in March 2011, came the Fukushima earthquake and the resulting tsunami. The Four Seasons sustained minor damage; the beachfront bar was destroyed and was rebuilt [to the initial disappointment of my wife] farther back from the water on the other side of the ocean front sidewalk. Kona Village was rendered unusable and never reopened. However, for the next two years or so the concession continued to operate out of the same spot; I hiked down the beach to get to it, with the ocean on one side and a fence with signs saying “No Trespassing” on the other, between me and the huts of the Kona Village, which stand empty.
So this year, when I got to the Four Seasons, I hiked down to the site of the concession the first morning. [You had to go out before brunch, because the wind and waves come up stronger later in the day and render these activities impossible except for the most skilled.] Lo and behold there was no concession; the swimming float was gone; the only sign of life was a kayak without a paddle anchored out in the water. I found out the story later. In November of last year, the corporation owning the Kona Village allowed it to go into default, and foreclosure procedures began. The concession, it turned out, was no longer allowed to stay on Kona Village property and had to move to the other end of the Ka’upulehu resort, on the border with Kuki’o township. Just inside Kuki’o township is a sandy beach, but it is not as nice as the one at Kona Village; there are a lot more rocks in the surf zone, and the beach is not protected from heavy surf as Kona Village is. And the concession, in its new site, is not open on days of heavy surf, which is, it seems, every day. The Pacific High is blocking storms off the Siberian coast from coming into California and breaking the drought; but it does not seem to be stopping waves! While there are other things to do here at the Four Seasons – read and write for example – this circumstance is, needless to say, a great disappointment.