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Four Seasons Resort Hualalai

  • 72-100 Ka`upulehu Drive, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, 96740, U.S.A.

David Chai

Director of Natural Resources

"Here at Hualalai, it's truly engrained in our vision and our mission to be pono - to do it right, and blend in with our environment, the way it was a long time ago with my Hawaiian ancestors."


Four Seasons Tenure

  • Since 1996
  • First Four Seasons Assignment: current

Employment History

  • Aquatic Resources Management and Consulting (owner); The Oceanic Institute of Hawaii; Royal Hawaiian Sea Farms


  • Honolulu, Hawaii, USA


  • MA University of Hawaii, Manoa in Geography/Aquatic Ecology; BA University of Hawaii, Hilo in Geography; Planning Certificate in Environmental Planning


  • English

David Chai, director of natural resources, has been restoring and maintaining the natural ponds at Ka'upulehu since 1990.  First brought on as a consultant, David restored the Resort’s many native ecosystems to preserve the ponds' natural resources. Continuing his commitment to preserving the ocean and its natural resources, he trains students in Aquatic Resource Management and develops management plans for coastal communities on Hawaii Island. 

Chai, who is part Hawaiian, is trained as a scientist. However, what makes his work special is the community-wide focus and culturally based approach that he brings to it. The coastal waters at Ka‘upulehu were once famous for moi, he’e (octopus), and large gatherings of opelu (mackerel scad). These natural fisheries have been depleted by unrestricted fishing. To revive them, Chai has been working with cultural, community and conservation groups on developing an area-wide marine resource management plan.

In July 2016, Chai lead the efforts in securing a ten-year fish resting period at Kaupulehu, the land division including Four Seasons Resort Hualalai with 3.5 miles of shoreline. The establishment of this mandate will allow a natural restoration of the coral reef and re-establish health and balance to the marine ecosystem. During this ten-year rest period, Chai and his team will help develop a more sustainable fishery management plan when fishing resumes at Kaupulehu.

One of David’s biggest accomplishments was helping thei Resort win an award from the Environmental Protection Agency for his involvement in the Punawai Lake project.  He helped design a natural filtration system to clean the three million gallon (13 million litre) lake.

“We provide a model for what can be done to manage marine resources in a traditional Hawaiian way,” says Chai. “There are a lot of places that want to do what we’re doing, so we help out.”

David is a graduate of Kamehameha Schools, holds a certificate in Urban and Regional Planning, and a Masters Degree in Geography, with an emphasis in Coastal Ecology and Aquatic Resources Management, from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

During David’s time away from work, he and his wife Deborah and children Casey and Rachel farm at their home in Kalopa.  They grow their own taro, asparagus, tomatoes, pineapples and much more.  And of course he loves fishing, diving, or looking at tide pools and ponds that have unique marine life; indeed, a true marine ecologist.