New life for former Kona Surf

The former Kona Surf Hotel on Hawaii's Big Island is scheduled to reopen in October after more than four years and a multimillion-dollar renovation. It's part of a larger effort to revitalize the Keauhou resort area.

The oceanfront lodging, renamed the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa by its new operators, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., has added a lavish pool system that starts in the building's interior atrium and meanders through the grounds. It has a 200-foot-long waterslide, two whirlpools, a waterfall and a river system connecting upper and lower pools.


The 521-room hotel also has a convention center, tennis courts, the poolside Manta Ray Bar & Grill and Restaurant Kai, serving food described as Hawaii regional/Pacific fusion. Bike and jogging paths are on the 22-acre site.

Early next year, Sheraton plans to open a spa and fitness center, spokeswoman Vicky Kometani said. Meanwhile, spa treatments will be offered in temporary quarters.

Guest programs for children and adults will focus on local culture and wildlife. There will be


, or storytelling, sessions in the gardens and free talks each night by naturalists on manta rays, which frequent nearby waters. Snorkel and diving excursions to view manta rays are also planned.

The Kona Surf was one of several Hawaiian hotels owned by Japanese companies that lost business and became outdated as the Asian economic bubble burst.

"It was really locked in a 1970s time warp," Kometani said of the Kona Surf, which closed in July 2000 and was transferred to new owners the next year. Renovations, originally announced at $45 million, have since expanded to $70 million.

Introductory room rates, which must be booked by Oct. 31, begin at $169 a night for stays through April 30. There are also packages that include breakfast, child-care services, golf and other activities. For reservations and more information, call (888) 488-3535 or visit