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Ty Warner Deals His Kona Village

Ty Makes Deal with Dell Founder Over Kona Village on Big Island’s Kohala Coast


Monday, March 26, 2007

I couldn’t believe the rumor going around town, that Ty Warner has sold his paradise-like Kona Village Resort on Hawaii’s Big Island. Would Ty really sell his prized luxury enclave of thatched-roof bungalows (pictured), a virtual South Seas island village on a white-sand beach with a palm-shaded lagoon?

Turns out, what Santa Barbaran Ty (pictured) has done is make a deal with the neighboring Four Seasons Hualalai Resort, purchased last year by Dell Computer founder Mike Dell and partner Rockpoint Group. Multi-billionaire Dell’s group is acquiring Kona Village, with Ty ty%20small.jpg retaining a financial interest in the partnership, which not only includes both resorts but Hualalai’s golf course and housing development. No purchase price was announced.

It made more sense to work together,” Greg Rice, Ty’s Santa Barbara hotels chief, told me Monday. I’ve been to both resorts, which are right around a sandy point on the Big Island’s Kohala Coast from one another.

But they’re very different. Kona Village, which Ty bought in 2004, is an informal, sandy-path getaway without TVs or phones in the bungalows. The 865-acre Hualalai Resort, while low profile, is a somewhat more formal hotel in the Four Seasons mold, with a housing development, numerous restaurants, and a golf course. While it doesn’t have a great beach, Kona Village does.

Kona Village sits on 82 acres, with 125 cottages of various designs taken from South Pacific islands. It’s on the marine preserve of Kahuwai Bay and includes a centuries-old petroglyph field of ancient markings. It opened in 1965 and at first was only accessible by private plane. It’s one of the world’s top-rated resorts. Bungalows start at $625 a night, including three meals. Kona Village reportedly plans a major renovation, including a spa and 25 more bungalows. It will keep its name.

College dropout Michael Dell, said to be worth $15.5 billion, is the founder of Dell Computers and has just resumed the post of CEO. His group also has controlling interest in the Four Seasons at Wailea, Maui. Ty Warner’s holdings including the Four Seasons Biltmore in Santa Barbara and Four Seasons New York.

Rockpoint is a global investment management group founded by five managing partners of Westbrook Real Estate Partners, which last year bought the Fairmont Orchid at Mauna Lani on the Big Island for $250 million.

See Indy editor Matt Kettmann’s article about the Kohala Coast from last year by clicking here.

(Barney Brantingham can be reached at 805-962-1156 or barney@independent.com.)

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