Removed from the hubbub of San Diego, yet a quick Uber ride to Balboa Park and buzzy Liberty Station, Shelter Island’s Kona Kai Resort & Spa is a calming, elegant getaway that both soothes and stimulates.
Originating in 1953 as a private club, Kona Kai was purchased in 2012 by Noble House Hotels & Resorts. The property recently underwent a $13 million expansion and remodel that complemented the Polynesian décor with modern and Spanish Colonial-style elements.
The pet-friendly resort’s 170 guest rooms and suites have undergone stunning transformations. The redone rooms feature oversized spa bathrooms with luxurious soaking tubs, and a private balcony or patio and many also include a double-sided gas fireplace.
The omnipresence of water is part of what makes Kona Kai so special. Overlooking both Kona Kai Marina and San Diego Bay, the resort features its own private beach with nearly 23,000 square feet of white sand, along with two swimming pools and several water sport options, including kayaking, paddleboarding and jet skiing.
Kona Kai’s SpaTerre promotes health, relaxation and well-being with treatments that incorporate Thai, Indonesian and Ayurvedic elements. Indulgences like the Himalayan Salt Stone Massage can be further enhanced when performed on the spa’s unique heated quartz sand bed.
Kona Kai Resort has an array of meeting and event spaces. “Most of our meeting rooms feature lots of natural light and can be configured to accommodate various group sizes,” says General Manager Hugh Hedin.
These spaces include the Point Loma Terrace, which overlooks the Marina; the Point Loma Ballroom, whose three sections can be divided or joined to create various levels of intimacy, and the Coronado Room, with floorto-ceiling windows that overlook a garden courtyard. Other options include the verdant Cabo Garden Court and the aforementioned white sand beach. “It’s the only private beach in all of San Diego on which alcohol can be served,” says Hedin.
Exemplary New American cuisine is served at Vessel, Kona Kai’s restaurant and bar. Two swimming pools provide distinctive experiences for visitors. The 21-andover-pool area includes the Paloma Bar, where you can order a Point Loma Paloma of sangria. A Tiki bar at the all-ages pool offers Polynesian-influenced classics like the Rum Runner, a mai tai and kid-friendly nibbles.
Between group sessions, guests can enjoy pleasures like lounging on the private beach and toasting marshmallows, engaging in yoga and wine (one of the most popular fitness classes is the Saturday yoga session called Namaste and Rosé), and making an easy foray to Little Italy’s trendy eateries.