Editor’s note: West Hawaii Today, in conjunction with the Kona Historical Society, is pleased to present readers a weekly feature compiled by the society called “A Guide to Old Kona.” These articles and accompanying photographs have been compiled and provided by Kona Historical Society and were published previously in a book of the same title.
Kona’s oldest operating hotel began as a two-room house bought with borrowed money in 1917.
In the early 1900s, Kinzo Manago came to Hawaii from Japan, planning to work in the sugar fields. Discovering plantation work was not for him, he moved to Kona. He married his picture bride wife, Osame, in 1912 and for four years made a living chopping firewood. With a loan of $100 from his former boss, he bought a tiny house in South Kona, a cookstove, and some supplies in 1917. The Managos probably never dreamed they would one day own a 64-room hotel.
The popularity of the tiny business grew. Osame planted a vegetable garden to keep the restaurant stocked with fresh produce. Additional rooms and a second floor enlarged the original house. Customers asked if they could spend the night, so the Managos provided Japanese futons and rented floor space at $1 a night. By 1919, the Managos had a large family of seven children to feed and clothe, and they were a big help at the ever-enlarging hotel.
Kinzo’s and Osame’s legacy of a family-run hotel continues because their grandchildren manage the business today. Visitors from around the world can enjoy delicious home-cooked meals in the restaurant and examine old photographs hanging in the hotel lobby.
Copyright 1998 Kona Historical Society. Reprinted by permission.