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Destination I Do

Keep Maritime in San Diego

Words by Shana Kinnerup
Photos courtesy of Kona Kai Resort & Marina

In its mid-century heyday, you may have sat at the Kona Kai marina pool watching John Wayne sail towards the harbor in his yacht.

Granted, you won’t see John Wayne here today, but the mid-century Hollywood glam that had escaped San Diego’s Kona Kai Resort in recent years is back with force following a massive renovation. Previously reputed as “that Hawaiian joint on Shelter Island,” Kona Kai has shed that Polynesian theme for a much sexier “Gen Y” appeal.

For the destination couple, the offerings at Kona Kai should move this property to the top of the considerations list. Here are some reasons why:

   • Sitting on the end of Shelter Island, the property boasts water on both sides. As a guest, this means each room has a view of the water.

   • Kona Kai is one of very few properties with a private waterfront beach. Located on property, their beach opens up to the marina and can not only be reserved for private events (think welcome and rehearsal dinners), it also has fire pits for s’mores and allows cocktails – a fantastic (and rare) offering!

   • The addition of a brand new spa and fitness facilities. 

   • The America’s Cup Racing vessel “Stars and Stripes” sits in the hotel marina and can be chartered right on sight. This is a truly unique opportunity. 

It goes without saying that San Diego is a sought-after destination. It boasts year-round weather appeal and is one of the easier ports to travel to. Many of the reception spaces at the Kona Kai host well into the triple digits, and their wedding packages are both comprehensive and affordable. All of this makes San Diego a much more affordable destination wedding option than many couples would’ve thought, and with the potential for a larger guest list. 

As a recent guest, I was pleasantly surprised at the amenities (and even more impressed with the refreshed vibe), but most importantly it was the friendly nature of the staff I encountered around every corner of the Kona Kai that left an impression. My husband and I were able to kick our feet up and enjoy the sounds of the nearby seals and seagulls while watching the yachts come in and out of the marina. We may not have spotted our modern-day John Wayne, but we sure did feel glamorous.

This article first appeared in Destination I Do's Spring/Summer 2015 issue. You can order a copy here.

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