LIHU‘E — Timbers Kaua‘i at Hokuala is one of the many resort properties on Kaua‘i now accepting trans-Pacific visitors through the Hawai‘i Safe Travels program.
And though the staff is excited to be welcoming visitors back, General Manager Sean Burpee said serving the Kaua‘i community has been and continues to be a major priority.
“When COVID arrived, we were forced to shut our transient visitor accommodations and furlough employees — similar to our industry peers and most small businesses,” Burpee said.
“However, portions of Hokuala Resort remained open for owners and local resident use. It’s been the great local patronage at Hualani’s and at The Ocean Course that has allowed us to keep moving forward,” he said.
The resort now has a pop-up vendor event on Fridays, which provides the chance to showcase and support the talents of local Kaua‘i artists and purveyors.
“Our owners and guests appreciate being able to explore our grounds and meet the artisans and local staff who work with us. The local support gives us the ability to return most of our employees back to work and keep our doors open to welcome owners, visitors and residents,” he said.
Residence owner Charles Norton has been visiting Kaua‘i and staying at Timbers since 2018.
“Timbers is special to us because everyone treats you like family and everyone really cares about each other,” Norton said. “Everyone from the housekeeping to the food-and-beverage team to the front desk to management works together, and it is really easy to appreciate not only the beauty of the resort but the beauty of the people who are behind it.”
Norton said he has seen the staff at Timbers give back to the community during the height of the pandemic, when they helped those out of work and continued to donate food from the farm to the community.
“They also host local vendors at the resort to promote local businesses that continue to struggle during these times,” Norton said. “We have visited most of the islands and stayed in many resorts in Hawai‘i. The island of Kaua‘i and Timbers is by far the most special place we have found.”
Burpee said a large part of their reopening has been focused on keeping the local community strong throughout the past year’s challenging period.
“Our 15 miles of walking trails have remained open throughout the pandemic, and we’re happy to see Kaua‘i residents maintain a healthy outdoor exercise regimen at their pace,” Burpee said.
Timbers Resorts is dedicated to philanthropic efforts that support and enhance Kaua‘i, a community that has so generously welcomed them, he said.
In addition to produce donations to assist the community, Timbers Kaua‘i at Hokuala’s corporate responsibility includes giving back to the local community through ongoing partnerships with Sustainable Coastlines Kaua‘i for continued support to keep beaches and coastlines clean, and the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust to preserve the island’s most special places, including coastal lands, cultural landscapes, watersheds and scenic vistas.
“These worthy organizations resonate with our vision to sustain Kaua‘i’s clean, natural beauty for our community’s future for generations to come,” Burpee said.
Since January of 2021, Timbers Kaua‘i has 80% of its workforce back to work full-time, and Burpee said they have been experiencing many sold-out weekends since mid-February. Their reservations remain solid throughout the summer due to pent-up demand.
“We are building a community and a strong foundation at Timbers Kaua‘i and at Hokuala Resort, cementing our future on this cherished island,” he said.
”Kaua‘i’s residents are very important to our continued success. Our invitation is always open to residents, and we look forward to the safe reopening of Kaua‘i. Come and see us,” Burpee said.
Timbers Kaua‘i at Hokuala continues to follow the strict protocols from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization and County of Kaua‘i.
“We were fortunate to be a part of the county’s enhanced-movement quarantine (resort bubbles), which allowed Timbers Kaua‘i to reopen,” Burpee said. “This included implementing comprehensive cleaning protocols and mask-wearing across our resort, and ensuring all guests complied with the pre-arrival and post-arrival COVID-19 testing,” Burpee said.
Reservations staff contacted every guest prior to arrival with COVID-19 testing and EMQ information. Burpee said every aspect, from residence accommodations to the use of the resort amenities within the 450-acre resort, was undertaken for the wellbeing and safety of owners, guests and staff.
The property also maintained The Ocean Course at Hokuala, the 18-hole championship golf course, which is open for local play six days a week.
“We also welcome and encourage local tournament play, and hope to secure a minimum of 30 dates through 2021 so golfers on all levels can enjoy our expansive and challenging course,” Burpee said.
David Nagao, associate director of Timbers Kaua‘i at Hokuala, has been with the Nawiliwili property for 30 years, sharing his aloha spirit since his days of the Westin Hotel. He could be found cleaning the bathrooms on the golf property during the pandemic for people to use while they get their exercise. He could also be found taking guests on courtesy tours even on his off days.
“It’s my ‘why’ for all the years that I’ve worked here, and when I started out here, it was the start of the Westin Hotel,” Nagao said.
“It was the Hades of, you know, this mega-resort, this dream wonderland. You’d not fathom what he (developer Chris Hemmeter) had done at that time. Still, until now, you kind of grow to appreciate what was put in place, like this lagoon? You know, it’s man-made. If you try to build it now, it would cost a billion, and to think about what this place would have been.”
Nagao explained his reasons for the resort to feel like one big ‘ohana, and the reason for him and the staff share the aloha spirit each day.
“We keep it all open to the public, and then it’s about what makes a community,” he said. “It’s about our people. It’s about our place, and it’s about sharing it.”