Questions? Comments?

Was there a dress code? 

And a word about tipping.

People sometimes wonder what the “feel” of the village was like.  How should they dress?  Is there a dress code? Will they feel out of place?  Is it formal or informal?

In the first place, I have to speak from a man’s perspective.  I’ve never been particularly fashion conscious, but I’ve always tried to look more or less presentable.  I simply don’t go to places where I’d be judged--or get a restaurant table--on the basis of what my suit or shoes cost.  My worth is not to be measured by what I’ve got on my body but what I’ve got in my head and in my heart.  And I get along famously in Kona Village because it’s a very unpretentious place.

In the village, men wear aloha shirts, tee shirts, polo shirts, sweat shirts, sleeveless shirts, plus sandals and running shoes, and shorts.  I’m sure that some men wear very expensive clothes, but it’s not remarked on--it just doesn’t matter.  I’ve always liked aloha shirts, and my collection goes back forty-five years.  I add a new one almost every time I go to the village, but whether I wear the latest one or one that’s 40 years old is of no significance to anyone.  (They never wear out because I only wear them a couple of times a year at most.)  When I travel through San Francisco, I wear long pants and shoes because it’s likely to be cold in transit.  But before I land in Hawai'i, I change into shorts, sandals, and an aloha shirt, which remains my costume until I go back home.

I was there in January, and the nights were quite chilly and remained so until the sun came up to warm things. I wished I’d brought a sweater.  I finally no longer could pretend that I wasn’t shivering at breakfast, so I bought a fleece pullover for the mornings.  I was fine after that.

Kona Village does have a general rule: Bathing suit coverups at breakfast and lunch, and always something on the feet.

Until recently, Kona Village did have a dress code for men: no ties or jackets, but a collared shirt and long pants at dinner.  If a gentleman ignored that and showed up for dinner in shorts, the hostess would fit him with a lava-lava--a sarong.  This was done in a lighthearted fashion, but very few men invited the sarong more than once.  Now, they still say a collared shirt, but no ties or jackets. Walking shorts are acceptable now.  I personally tend to respect the old tradition and wear long pants to dinner, but even I have worn shorts on occasion.  The long pants tradition doesn’t apply at the lu'au.

As far as advice for the women, it is not a super dressy place.  One woman complained because the unpaved paths chewed up her spike heels on the way to dinner, but KVR is just not a spike heels kind of environment.  Nor is it a place for expensive jewelry.  (There is a safe in every hale, and the first thing I do is put my billfold there, since everybody signs for everything at the village.) 

Women wear warm weather woman-type things during the day, and some wear a mu'u-mu'u or other more formal dress at dinner, but most wear things that are perhaps a step up from daytime wear.  However as I say, it’s very informal, and women can wear just about anything at dinner without feeling out of place.  They do have to wear something, however.

Linda from New Jersey

Carolyn & Phil

Linda from Sacramento

Denise & Dan, first timers and newlyweds

Jenny, first timer and newlywed

Heck, I couldn’t leave Nick out...


While we’re on the question of things that people wonder about, this seems to be a good place to say a few words about tipping.  Like it or not, in this country it’s customary to tip for service.  I personally dislike tipping because it forces me to judge something--the quality of service--and usually to calculate something at a time when I’d rather not have to calculate.  At times and places in the past I’ve either overtipped or undertipped and only later (usually when I’m trying to sleep) have I realized what I’ve done. 

When you register at Kona Village, they offer an option of having a percentage-- normally 15%, but the amount is up to you--added to food and beverage tags.  You can decline that option and choose to handle it on a case by case basis, or you can accept the option, have it done for you and not have to think about it.  Some folks feel that since lunch is a buffet, valued at between $22 and $35 (depending on age), and since the service consists only of drinks and bussing plates, a 15% tip is excessive.  I can understand that feeling even though I don’t happen to share it.

To me, Kona Village represents the most carefree, decision-free environment I’m ever in, and I go for the automatic 15% and just consider it to be part of the cost of being there.  I also accept the automatic porterage charge.  But that’s me.  (I do tip the maids myself, however.  After a couple of attempts, I finally found a way to get a straight answer about how much is appropriate--ask a porter.  He said $2 to $5 per day, depending on how much work you create for them.  And that goes for the morning maid service and also for the turndown service in the evening, because not only do they turn down the bed, but they also tidy up and make everything spiffy.  I don’t begrudge that, because they work hard and times are tough.)  Just keep in mind that guests have the freedom to do it any way they want to.  Please don’t be surprised or annoyed when they offer you the option at registration.  If you don’t like the automatic tip idea, just say, “No thanks.”

One other thing: Some services are made available from outside vendors, and those are charged separately--massages, Yoga, SCUBA, deep sea fishing, for example. While you sign for them, they are not covered by the automatic 15% gratuity (if you chose that option).  I asked Sandy, the woman who posts gratuities, what is normal and appropriate.  At first she threw up her hands and exclaimed that the tipping ranged widely, from nothing to over $100 if the service was very pleasing.  But then she said it was commonly in the $15 to $25 range.

People who had never been to Kona Village had heard that it was “different,” that it was “laid back,” that it was “almost all-inclusive,” and because it was pricier than the average resort, they were uncertain whether they’d fit in. On this page I wanted to shine a light on those questions so they’d know for sure if Kona Village was for them or not. I felt that it was a disservice to the guest, the other guests, and the resort if they arrived with a set of expectations that were not met for one reason or another. How to dress and how to tip were common sources of uncertainty, and I tried to make it clear for them. This is the original text.