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Tiki Central Forums » » Locating Tiki » » Kona Kai Club, San Diego, CA (hotel)
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Kona Kai Club, San Diego, CA (hotel)
Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4074
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2011-12-07 8:50 pm   Permalink

Name:Kona Kai Club
Type:hotel
Street:Shelter Island
City:San Diego
State:CA
Zip:
country:USA
Phone:
Status:operational

Description:
The Kona Kai Club resort is still operational on Shelter Island just a stones throw away from the Half Moon Inn and the Bali Hai restaurant. It started out life in 1953 as a similar Polynesian Pop inspired resort hotel and club facility.

I have a few postcards from the Kona Kai Club showing the grounds with the thatched huts, A-frames, palm trees and the different areas of the compound.









Close up of the entrance A-Frame, sign and Tiki torches.



The Kona Kai Club used an image of the Kon Tiki ship as their logo, as seen on the matchbooks.





That always confused me until I found out that Kon Tiki was the name of the bar/lounge which featured the ship's sail as seen on this napkin.




This brochure posted by Matterhorn shows some really great images of the different aspects of the resort.






Fun for the kids and the family.








Here is the Kon Tiki Lounge.


And the food


More info.






They also borrowed the Tiki image from the United Airlines menu.





For the third year anniversary party.





Another Kona Kai Club menu on Arkiva Tropika features one of the famous Hawaiian menu images used by the Matson ship line.



I also have some Kona Kai Club Islander magazines that detail some of the events.







The Tahitian Lounge??



Luau night.



Sadly the Kona Kai Club succumbed to the Taco Bell Tuscany remodel with the red tile roofs in the mid 1990's and no longer contains any resemblance to what it once was.




I actually stayed here on a deal during the opening night of Tiki Oasis a few years ago so I could stumble home from the party at the Bali Hai.

It's too bad this one did not survive in style to maintain the great Shelter Island Tiki tradition.


DC



 
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TIKIBOSKO
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 17, 2004
Posts: 320
Posted: 2011-12-08 2:27 pm   Permalink

Great post DC, I’ve featured the Kona Kai in my talk/s about San Diego’s Polynesian Pop past because it was where so much happened in San Diego. Locally it was literally THE place you came to if you where a politician, celebrity, someone rich or in power.
I’ve never seen the illustration of the bar which finally answers why they used the Kon Tiki logo, I’d never heard of it. I know they remodeled several times over the years so how long it was there? The Tahitian Lounge was the large octagonal building near the pool, it had a Witco Mainlander out in front of it and was built in the early 60’s. The Club was just that a club not a hotel (until way later) the hotel part was the Kona Inn right next door. A few years back after the last renovation they renamed the club something as stupid as the new architectural style they slapped on it, then a year or so ago they renamed it back to the Kona Kai?
Amazing work as always.


Bosko


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11003
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2011-12-08 5:28 pm   Permalink

Yeah, that sail over the bar is a great discovery! Excellent post, pal!

 
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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4074
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2011-12-09 08:04 am   Permalink

Thanks guys, it is good to finally know the Kona Kai Club - Kon Tiki logo connection.

Bosko,

I didn't realize what a happening place the Kona Kai Club was. Here is some more info from Crtiki.

Kona Kai Club opened in 1953, and along with the nearby Bali Hai Restaurant, was one of the first developments on the predominantly Polynesian-themed Shelter Island. The Kona Kai Club was a marina, intended from the start to serve high-end yachts, and it developed into the premiere marina in San Diego. The catalog of celebrities mooring pleasure boats there is impressive: Clark Gable, Burt Lancaster, Jack Lemmon, Gregory Peck, Jimmy Durante, Dick Van Dyke, Liberace, and many more.

In 1959, the Kona Inn hotel was opened nextdoor (at 1901 Shelter Island Drive). Later in the year, the entire property was purchased by Jack Wrather, a Hollywood producer who was the original owner of the Disneyland Hotel. Wrather expanded the marina, and in 1963 sold the club to John Alessio, owner of the famous Hotel del Coronado. Alessio started to add Mediterranean touches, including an octagonal structure echoing the one at the Coronado.

The Kona Inn and Kona Kai Club underwent their final renovation from 1995-1997, which completed the conversion from Polynesian to Mediterranean. The name was removed in 1998, and it became Shelter Pointe Hotel & Marina.

I have a matchbook featuring the great googie sign at the adjacent Kona Inn.





The name of the restaurant was the Voyager... not much in the way of Tiki (maybe a nod to a certain Witco ship?).




And finally a photo of the sign from Critiki.



Shelter Island must have been an impressive sight back in the day.

DC


 
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arriano
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 13, 2006
Posts: 1238
From: Dog Patch - San Diego
Posted: 2011-12-09 10:00 am   Permalink

I had to laugh, sigh and shake my head at the quote included with the Tahitian Lounge advertisement:

Quote:
“For a truly magnificent drink, try one of Eddie Villa’s Double Beefeater’s on the Rocks,” recommends frequent clubber Mr. Giovanni Pietanza.



Wow, how did ol' Eddie make that drink? Let's see, rocks glass, add ice and two shots of Beefeater's Gin, maybe a squeeze of lime. Voila! You couldn't get that cocktail just anywhere. Just the sort of drink you would want in a place called the Tahitian Lounge.
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Tiki Shaker
Grand Member (6 years)  

Joined: Jun 28, 2008
Posts: 702
From: Menifee, CA
Posted: 2011-12-09 2:13 pm   Permalink

Well I figured I would go ahead and take quick photos of the things I have that haven't been posted yet.

Voyager Ad


Letterhead Envelope


Kona Inn Brochure






Kona Kai Club Postcard


Kona Kai Club Postcard


Kona Kai Club Postcard


Kona Inn Postcard


Kona Inn Matchbooks




Voyager Matchbook






Kona Kai Club Matchbook


Kona Kai Club Room Key


Kona Kai Club daily menu typed on letterhead


Kona Kai Club Room Folder






Kona Kai Club brochure










Close ups shows part of the sail on the left side of the bar.


This is a book I have on the history of the Kona Kai Club. It's over a 100 pages long. Shows the construction, the owners and all of the stars that use to go there.





 
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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4074
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2011-12-09 5:28 pm   Permalink

Tiki Shaker,

Thanks for posting all of the material. That last brochure is killer. Almost a shot of the Kon Tiki boat sail at the bar.

DC


 
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VampiressRN
Grand Member (7 years)  

Joined: Nov 23, 2006
Posts: 5509
From: Sin City Lincoln Hills (NorCal)
Posted: 2011-12-09 11:00 pm   Permalink

WOW....great post indeed. Brings back many memories for me because as I kid I used to hang out there all the time in the 60's. My parents weren't club members, but I had several girlfriends whose parents were members, so used to go there to swim, hang on the beach and piers and also went to a few functions there. The luaus were great and they used to have synchronized swim shows there often. THANX for sharing all the ephemera.

 
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TIKIBOSKO
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 17, 2004
Posts: 320
Posted: 2011-12-12 10:41 am   Permalink

Again amazing work DC and great images Shaker,

I want to make a few additions and a couple of small corrections to the Critiki info, although John Alessio bought it in 63 he didn't make any Mediterranean changes he was the guy who really Tiki-fied the Kona Kai, he hired a Hollywood set designer to really make it "authentic" Polynesian, the stupid changes didn't happen until 95 just after we discovered it. The Tahitian Lounge was based on the Hotel Del and I suspect replaced a smaller poolside structure that was a similar shape you see in some of the ads.
Burt Lancaster and Clark Gable filmed "Run Silent Run Deep" at the Kona Kai, Jerry Lewis edited films there (I think he may still have a boat docked down there some place).
I could go on and on,


Thanks

Bosko


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11003
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2011-12-12 3:22 pm   Permalink

Bosko, does your research mention WHO the Hollywood set designer was?

And what is that connection between Jerry Lewis and San Diego Tiki?



 
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arriano
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 13, 2006
Posts: 1238
From: Dog Patch - San Diego
Posted: 2011-12-12 3:50 pm   Permalink

Tiki Shaker - That's an amazing collection of Kona Kai items!

Has anyone seen a cocktail menu from the tiki version of the Kona Kai? I'm curious what cocktails they made there (other than double Beefeaters).
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Sabu The Coconut Boy
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Aug 20, 2002
Posts: 2789
From: Carson, California
Posted: 2011-12-12 5:35 pm   Permalink

Great job, everyone.

The cocktail napkin also shows an artist's rendering of the Kon Tiki sail over the bar. I bought one off eBay a few years ago, but the seller never sent it to me and I had to get a charge-back from eBay for the auction. I would have rather had the napkin.


 
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TIKIBOSKO
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 17, 2004
Posts: 320
Posted: 2011-12-12 7:07 pm   Permalink

Hey Sven, L.A. set designer Al Goodman, all I could find on the Internets was he worked on the Rosemary Clooney Show. I guess he was hooked up with the Alessios, he also designed much of the (60's remodeled) interior of the Hotel Del, amazing (but so typical So Cal) to think some Hollywood guy made up the interior of the venerated Hotel Del Coronado, so now we all accept it as historical, but the Mid Century Tiki stuff is not to be taken serious, how perfect. 1960 two million dollar remodel "Most of this went into the interior, with special wallpaper, carpets woven to order, a spruced up lobby, new private dining rooms and a plush new bar. A "leading Hollywood scenic designer, Al Goodman, supervised the work...attacking the problem as he would a stage set."
It was all theatrics, great for us and Polynesian Pop.
I would presume he also designed their Luau room?


Bosko


 
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Tiki Shaker
Grand Member (6 years)  

Joined: Jun 28, 2008
Posts: 702
From: Menifee, CA
Posted: 2011-12-12 7:36 pm   Permalink

Hey Sven,

I looked in that book I have. The Hollywood set designer was Al Goodman.


 
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arriano
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 13, 2006
Posts: 1238
From: Dog Patch - San Diego
Posted: 2011-12-13 10:12 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2011-12-12 19:07, TIKIBOSKO wrote:
I would presume he also designed their Luau room?




I thought the Luau Room at the Hotel del Coronado dated back to the 1950s, which would obviously pre-date the 1960s hotel remodel. But who knows? Maybe the Luau Room wasn't that junglely until Goodman worked on it.
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