Once in awhile a place simply captivates you. Kohanaiki, a private residential community on the Big Island in Kona set along the Pacific Ocean, is such a place. Here in Kona, the topography is rugged black lava from the various volcano eruptions cooling and creating new land as it made its way to the sea. Kohanaiki stretches over 450 acres along this vibrant coast. Some come for the Rees Jones designed golf course, which meanders through the lava, around homes, circles the anchialine ecosystem ponds that Kohanaiki has preserved (the golf course is the first in Hawaii to receive the Audubon Society Certified Signature Sanctuary Award for attracting native birds to return and nest); and many come come for the world-class tennis and localized activities. To be here, you either buy a lot and build or buy a home, or become a Hale (house) Club member with assigned stay nights. This exclusivity makes this destination a wonderful getaway, and the Kim Chee Slaw is a sought-after local recipe.

Courtesy Kohanaiki

What sets Kohanaiki apart? Sure, there are other private luxury communities to buy into, but this one is on a grand scale; the beautiful Shay Zak designed Kohanaiki Clubhouse & Spa complex is over 67,000 sq. feet and includes a bowling alley, cigar room, dining rooms, event space, shopping, fitness center, golf center, several restaurants, and my favorite — a full-service spa featuring treatments made with local Hawaiian ingredients. “Ok” you are thinking, “how do they work on such a grand scale and make it a personal experience?” Well the vibe cultivated here is sincere. I would call it “relaxed luxury.” I use the term “cultivated” because staff is taught the 5-star way of doing things. Anticipating members’ needs is key; surprise your golf cart is washed overnight, charged for you, fresh ice and water put in the cooler and parked back in your garage ready for your tee time the next morning. But they are also allowed to be themselves, and offer their own Hawaiian hospitality and personality. When was the last time everyone from the top brass to the doorman are allowed to wear slippers or boat shoes to work? I experienced a real team feel here from the “farmer” at the community Farm on property growing some of the fresh produce for the kitchen, to the Beach Club services Ohana (family) patiently teaching surfing, outrigger canoe paddling, SUP, and offering members an understanding of the Hawaiian waters and reef systems. Take a spin around their website, and you will see what I mean. It is a truly special destination.

Courtesy Kurt Winner
Courtesy Kurt Winner

One more thing. The food, beverage and wine program rivals any 5-star resort. Talented Executive chef Patrick Heymann sees to that. His menus feature some member favorites, but he rotates seasonally and always has fresh items to add. I couldn’t get enough of their “just off the boat” local fish. Chef Patrick served it with a lightly spicy Kim Chee Slaw that I adored. Chef and Kohanaiki are delighted to share this recipe with you on LuxeGetaways so you can surprise your friends with this at your next barbecue; good with meat too.

Kohanaiki Kim Chee Slaw

  • 2 cups shredded Green Cabbage
  • 2 cups shredded Red Cabbage
  • 4 ounces julienne Kamaboko Japanese Fish Cake (available in the chiller of Asian markets)
  • ¼ cup Mayonnaise
  • 2-3 tablespoons Kim Chee Base (Asian market, in a jar)
  • 1 pinch Salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Cilantro

Mix and chill before service. Great as a salad to accompany grilled or seared fish, but is also very good added to a fish sandwich.