Kona Kai shows off new $13M expansion

The new Paloma Pool and Bar is among a number of additions to the Kona Kai Resort & Spa on Shelter Island following a $13 million expansion completed at the beginning of the summer.
(Howard Lipin / The San Diego-Union-Tribune)

A $13 million expansion and reboot of the more than half-century-old Kona Kai Resort & Spa seems to have paid off for its owners, delivering one of the best summers the Shelter Island property has ever had.

The enlarged hotel, completed in June, now has 41 more suites, bringing the total number of rooms to 170, all of which have views of San Diego Bay or the Kona Kai Marina. A second pool area for the exclusive use of adult guests also was added, as was a new outdoor event space overlooking the Point Loma hillside.

“July and August were by far the busiest months we’ve ever experienced,” said hotel general manager Hugh Hedin. “It is clear that San Diego visitors have been waiting for a brand new suite product at the beach.”

One of the new California Endless Summer suites at the Kona Kai Resort & Spa
(Howard Lipin / The San Diego-Union-Tribune)

The suites were designed to reflect two distinct themes — “California endless summer,” featuring splashes of burnt orange, reminiscent of a Southern California sunset, and “coastal Mediterranean,” dominated by cobalt blue tones.

The expansion represented the second phase of a $27 million makeover that began with extensive room renovations; a new hotel restaurant, Vessel; the addition of a spa; and a redesigned lobby.

The project was launched after Noble House Hotels acquired the Kona Kai leasehold, which sits on Port of San Diego tidelands, in 2012 for $12.5 million. Sean Mullen, now president of acquisitions for Noble House, said at the time that the property was no longer “top of mind” among visitors to San Diego and that the company hoped to raise its profile as a destination by reinvesting millions of dollars in the resort.


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