In 1960, a worldly man took action on his belief that there is much the ancient East can teach the West.
Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, founded by venture capitalist and passionate conservationist Laurance S. Rockefeller in 1965, marked its 50th anniversary in 2015. The first resort built on the raw and stunning Kohala Coast, the Mauna Kea remains a landmark of luxury on Hawai'i Island, offering 252 newly refreshed guest rooms and suites.
Laurance S. Rockefeller visits Hawai'i at the invitation of Governor William F. Quinn looking for sites on which to develop resort hotels; falls in love with Kauna'oa Bay.
Laurance S. Rockefeller takes 99-year lease on Parker Ranch lands that include site for Mauna Kea Beach Hotel.
Under the direction of designer Robert Trent Jones Sr., construction begins on the golf course.
Construction begins on hotel with industry-leading architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.
Grand Opening of the golf course with the "Big 3," Gary Player, Arnold Palmer, and Jack Nicklaus.
Grand Opening of Mauna Kea Beach Hotel.
Esquire lists Mauna Kea Beach Hotel as one of the three greatest hotels in the world; Fortune names it one of “10 best buildings of 1966.”
The “Great Buddha” arrives and is installed above the grand staircase.
The Beachfront Wing opens, designed by Honolulu architects Wimberly, Whisen and, Allison, Tong and Goo with interiors by Phyllis Brownlee; renowned painter, John Young creates original paintings for the Beachfront guestrooms; a second restaurant, The Batik, opens.
Opening of Kona International Airport allows greater access to the leeward side of Hawai'i Island.
8th Floor added.
Completion of Queen Ka'ahamanu Highway from the Kona International Airport to Mauna Kea Beach Hotel and the Kawaihae area.
Mauna Kea Resort acquired by Seibu Railway and begins operation under the flag of Prince Hotels & Resorts.
Mauna Kea Beach Hotel closes for renovations and Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel opens.
Mauna Kea Beach Hotel reopens (with televisions in the guestrooms).
Mauna Kea Beach Hotel joins sister property Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel to form the Mauna Kea Resort.
Kauna'oa Bay announced as “America's No. 1 Beach” and “No. 5 Beach in the World” by The Travel Channel.
A major earthquake strikes off Hawai'i's Big Island causing Mauna Kea Beach Hotel to close for just over two years while repairs are being completed.
Major renovation of Mauna Kea Golf Course by Rees Jones, youngest son of original course designer Robert Trent Jones.
Mauna Kea Beach Hotel reopens after $150 million renovation.
Multi-million dollar Beachfront Wing renovation completed with five-fixture bathrooms that provide views from soaking tub to the ocean.
Mauna Kea Golf Course celebrates 50-year anniversary.
Mauna Kea Beach Hotel celebrates 50-year anniversary.
What was, is timeless...
Laurance S. Rockefeller envisioned a marriage of cultures in the most idyllic place on earth, Hawaii.
“The design should follow the natural contours of the land, incorporate lava rock and in every possible way make the hotel invisible.”
— Laurance S. Rockefeller
Rockefeller sought out the crescent beach at Kauna'oa Bay along the Kohala Coast of Hawaii Island. He proceeded to carve out an oasis from a hillside of raw a'a, lava rock. Architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill drafted a design of clean, simple Mid Century modern. Their work follows the topography with a cascading pair of stepped-back, open-air galleries. Mauna Kea invites the gardens in and her blue-tiled lobby brings the ocean to the threshold of the porte-cochere.
As the resort neared completion, Rockefeller took a motor launch off shore. He looked back to the bay, the beach and his hotel-to-be with snow-capped Mauna Kea volcano, the backdrop. The building was too bright. He ordered a repaint to harmonize with the surround. No man can outdo nature; mustn't even try.
Another star of Rockefeller's team, Robert Trent Jones, Sr., took to the task of seamlessly blending in 18 fairways and greens of Mauna Kea Golf Course. His greatest leap of brush strokes came at the 3rd hole with an over-water carry from tee to green. The ensuing debate over the most beautiful hole in the world touched off on March 6, 1964 with a nationally televised match of Big Three Golf – Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus. The debate continues to this day. Beautiful as the day she opened. Mauna Kea's mid-century modern architecture remains timeless a half century later.