by Terence Baker | December 01, 2004

Fred Duerr"The resort has had six different owners, which has allowed me to learn and grow to a greater degree."

Fred Duerr has lived and worked at the 125-room Kona Village Resort in Kaupulehu on Hawaii’s Big Island for 38 years. The resort’s general manger since 1975, he retired last month but will stay on as a consultant. Duerr originally is from Dayton, Ohio.

How has the resort changed since 1966? We opened in 1966 with 25 cabins. Materials were brought in by barge, plane or army-surplus vehicles that took hours to negotiate the lava flows. There were no traffic lights. Now, the islands are less agrarian and more business-minded.
How did you arrive in Hawaii? I wanted to study fish and game management but changed my major to business. Also, I worked in a hotel. My wife became a school teacher, and as we both had the freedom to go where we wanted, we decided on the sun of Hawaii.

Was working for so long at the same hotel ever a drawback? No. The resort has had six different owners, which has allowed me to learn and grow to a greater degree. Really, it has been like running six different hotels.   

How did the resort become known for both donkeys and Kona coffee? What attracts people to Hawaii is the island’s culture and native foods, including Kona coffee. It took the islands a surprisingly long time to realize that. As for the area’s donkeys, they were left to roam after World War II, when they were used as beasts of burden. Recently, they began to mess up the golf courses, so local government officials decided to move them. On hearing this, I adopted five.