by Karen Rose
Originally published in San Francisco Examiner June 2016
Aloha and welcome to Paradise, where the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel has remained an icon of luxury and status for over 50 years. American philanthropist and businessman Laurence S. Rockefeller first visited the Big Island in 1960 to peruse its coastline on a quest for the perfect ocean front resort location.
He found that perfect spot when he went for a swim in Kauna’oa Bay, which is still considered one of the best beaches in Hawaii, if not the world. During his swim he gazed up at Mauna Kea, Hawaii’s tallest and most formidable mountain, and was inspired to create a hotel that captured the special spirit of the island. He is quoted as saying, “Every great beach deserves a great hotel.”
A symbol of sophistication, it was clear to Rockefeller that the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel must also include first class dining, and a magnificent golf course. The most expensive and exclusive resort of its time, its timeless luxury and class still reign supreme on the Big Island’s most beautiful coastline.
Rockefeller believed in hiring only the best, a method he called, “experting.” As a result, he contracted with the best planners, engineers, architects, and designers in the business to see his dream come to life. He hired golf course architect, Robert Trent Jones, who discovered a way to create soil from lava rock, to create The Mauna Kea Golf Course. The 18-hole championship course made its televised debut prior to the Hotel’s grant opening with a match between Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player. The golf course was upgraded to current USGA standards in 2007 by Rees Jones, the son of the Robert Jones, and still remains prominent and still remains prominent anddistinguished in the world of golf.
When the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel opened in 1965, it was the most expensive hotel ever built, with a price tag of $15 million. It was named one of the “Three greatest hotels in the world” by Esquire Magazine. Praised by critics worldwide, it also claimed the title of one of the “Ten best buildings of 1966” by Fortune magazine. The room rates started at $43 a night and were considered ‘exorbitant.’
The Beachfront wing, designed by Honolulu architects Wimberly, Whisenand, Allison, and Tong was added in 1968. Phyllis Brownlee designed the interiors, and artist John Young painted original works for the guest rooms.
The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel also boasts an awe inspiring art collection that includes 1,600 museum quality works that were created specifically for the Grand Opening. These trademark pieces are exhibited throughout the property, even in the most subtle of locations. From sculptures and paintings, to Hawaiian quilts and priceless furniture, guests can enjoy a self guided tour, or participate in a complimentary art tour ever Saturday.
In 2008, the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel reopened after a remarkable $150 million renovation. With
an elevated and fresh Mauna Kea style, the property maintains her classic understated elegance and timeless Hawaiian tradition with a progressive and graceful fusion of modern luxuries.
Mauna Kea Beach Hotel holds the distinction of being Hawaii’s only Autograph Collection Hotel. Autograph Collection Hotels are unequivocally iconic and historic properties for guests who prefer the creativity of independent hotels but demand the high standards of the finest resorts. The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel was selected for this recognition because of its fierce originality, bold character, and rich details.
Whether your basking in the glorious colors of a Hawaiian sunset from a glamorous bath, or sipping a tropical beverage from your private lanai, the elegant and refined Mauna Kea Hotel is the ultimate in a quality Hawaiian resort, and in a class by itself.
So leave your worries behind and allow yourself to relax in the unparalleled beauty and pampering of your Mauna Kea Beach Hotel journey on the Big Island of Hawaii. From a fresh flower lei greeting. to the once in a life-time experience of a private moonlight Manta Swim, expect only the best of hospitality given in the spirit of aloha and lokomaika’i – sharing with kindness and generosity from within.