Set overlooking a marina and private beach, you can hear music both in the Vessels restaurant and bar, as well as poolside on select days.
The restaurant has recently been restored to its original layout, with the bar back in the middle, and all the bar stools now facing the marina. It has a seamless feel between the inside and the outdoor patio where music is performed.
With the patio doors open, the music can be heard by anyone in the restaurant and/or down by the pool.
The Kona Kai Resort keeps a great schedule of music, with something for just about everybody.
Upcoming performances include guitarist Hank Easton on July 26, acoustic duo Doug Booth and Draeh Jirnae on July 27, boogie-woogie pianist Sue Palmer on July 31 and the trio of Joey Harris, Caren & Paul Kamanski on Aug. 2.
The high caliber of the talent invol-ved is no accident. The music for the Kona Kai Resort, as well as four other locations around the Western United States, is booked by Shauna Aguirre, director of entertainment at Noble House Hotels & Resorts.
She has been instrumental in orchestrating entertainment to hotels for almost three decades and remains at the heart of it all as a huge music fan.
“I go to as many music shows as I book,” she said. “I got started (booking) in 1990 at La Casa del Zorro, doing the jazz weekends out there with Art Good.”
“We had a huge following out there and I’ve been booking bands ever since,” she added.
Aguirre has always specialized. “For me, It’s always been working in a hotel environment. It’s always been really important get the dynamics of the hotel guests, as (the music venue) is not just a freestanding restaurant or bar,” she said.
Even after decades in the business, Aguirre said she still enjoys the role she plays in providing the soundtrack to so many people’s visits to the Kona Kai and the other locations she works with.
“I just like providing live music,” she said. “It has been shown to be significant in changing the dynamic of the venue.”
She points out that each location has its own unique personality. She said she tailors the music to fit the property.
“The River Terrace Inn in Napa just added music this year. We just started in May and it’s been a huge success,” Aguirre said. “It’s proven that people will stick around and people want to be entertained.
“It’s wine country, so solo acoustic, classic rock, even flamenco works,”she said. “But the Kona Kai is more eclectic. Different things work there. It doesn’t have to be so specific.”
She said she likes the varied nature of the Kona Kai’s offerings.
“It’s a bit of everything,” Aguirre said. “We have blues one night a week and we’ve just added a DJ to the pool area for the weekends. It’s still family oriented, but the DJ provides some live music and people can request stuff. It’s really enhanced the atmosphere down there. We’re trying a bit of everything right now just to kind of give as big a variety as we can.”
She cites blues guitarist Gino Matteo and Glen Fisher’s Latin Jazz group Con Alma as examples of the musical diversity to be found at the Kona Kai.
Its waterfront location and varied settings also make the Kona Kai an attractive nightspot for people of all ages.
Aguirre said recent changes to the resort have “made Vessels feel like such a contemporary restaurant. I think it’s going to become a huge hangout for a younger generation than we’ve had there before,” she said.
• THE KONA KAI RESORT, 1551 Shelter Island Drive. www.resortkonakai.com.