Hawaii Island’s First Resort

It was while swimming in the turquoise waters of Kauna‘oa Bay, surrounded by a wide landscape of lava rock and ranchland with clear views of the Mauna Kea summit, that American conservationist and venture capitalist Laurance S. Rockefeller decided to build Hawaii Island’s first resort. His inspiration to capture the spirit of this special place and ensure the hotel conformed to, rather than intruded upon, these beautiful natural surroundings, became today’s Mauna Kea Beach Hotel.

1960: Experimenting on the beach

Rockefeller’s original concept was a cluster of individual cottages along the beach, with no televisions or air-conditioning to interfere with the natural environment of the Kohala Coast. Architects Skidmore Owings Merrill produced a dome-shaped model that was almost washed out by a tropical storm, so a single-building design was next refined by lead architect Charles Bassett. Air-conditioning proved to be crucial in the warm, nearly always sunny South Kohala climate. But from 1965 to 1995, the hotel operated contentedly without guestroom televisions as Rockefeller had always intended.

1964Golf First

In 1964, a year before the hotel was ready to receive guests, Mauna Kea Golf Course opened and became Hawaii Island’s first course. Designed by Robert Trent Jones, who had pioneered a technique to create soil from lava rock, the course debuted with a televised “Big 3” match between Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player.

1965: Great beginnings

When it opened in July 1965 with 154 guestrooms after a $15 million build-out, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel was the most expensive hotel ever built. Praised by travel writers and critics worldwide, it was named one of the “three greatest hotels in the world” by Esquire magazine, one of the “10 best buildings of 1966” by Fortune, and presented with an honors award by the American Institute of Architects in 1967. What were viewed as exorbitant room rates started at $43 per night, including breakfast and dinner in the Pavilion, which featured international cuisine.

1968: The New Wing

A new Beachfront Wing was added in 1968, designed by Honolulu architects Wimberly, Whisenand, Allison, Tong and Goo, with interior design by Phyllis Brownlee. Original paintings by John Young were commissioned for the guestrooms, and the Batik restaurant and Lounge was also added.

1994-95: A Sister Property

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel closed for renovation in 1994, a few months before the opening of adjacent Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel that August. Designed by Beachfront Wing architects Wimberly Allison Tong and Goo, Hapuna delivered a contemporary resort experience at the other end of the Mauna Kea Resort property, featuring all ocean-facing rooms, meeting and business facilities, and an exclusive villa. Mauna Kea Beach Hotel reopened in December 1995 and the two hotels in tandem comprised a world-class resort and residential experience on the beautiful Kohala Coast.

2008: Next Generation

Following a damaging earthquake in October 2006 and an unprecedented two year, $150 million renovation, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel reopened in December 2008. In classic Mauna Kea style, the hotel continues to welcome generations of guests to reconnect with life’s most authentic pleasures.

2015: Marriott’s Autograph Collection

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel became Hawaii’s first Autograph Collection Hotel through a marketing partnership. The Autograph Collection is an ensemble of strikingly independent hotels across the country. Each destination has been selected for its quality, bold originality, rich character and uncommon details.

2016: Historic Hotel

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel was inducted as a member of Historic Hotels of America. HHA is the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which recognizes and celebrates the finest historic hotels across America.

Piecing together a long-awaited, five-day Big Island itinerary takes months of planning without the help of an on-site concierge. Thankfully, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel’s worldly concierge team is available at the drop of a hat. Mauna Kea’s monthly travel guide is also a fantastic resource for those who prefer to plan a trip without the aid of a professional. However, to ensure that each guest’s Mauna Kea experience is nothing short of flawless, we’ve compiled a handy Big Island itinerary that encompasses everything that makes the Island of Hawaii so uniquely alluring.

5 Days in Paradise: An Enticing Big Island Itinerary 

It’s quite common to spot travelers holding a Hawaii trip planner when strolling through Mauna Kea Beach Hotel’s jaw-dropping, 60-acre property. And, hopefully, this easy-to-read Big Island itinerary plays a significant role in the planning process. To learn more about each destination and activity (as seen below), please give the concierge team a call today at 1-808-882-5707.

Photo of Mauna Kea Beach, A Must-Stop on Your Big Island Itinerary

Day 1: Relaxation

The ideal way to start a vacation, especially after a lengthy flight, is to unwind, relax, and rejuvenate. And the best way to relax on the breathtaking Island of Hawaii is to explore Mauna Kea Beach Hotel’s sprawling 60-acre property as well as its many on-site amenities. 

Photo of Moonlight Manta Rays, A Must-Stop on Your Big Island Itinerary

Day 2: Aquatic Adventures

Perhaps the most alluring aspect of Kauna’oa Bay is the ocean’s teal waves, which methodically lap onto the sandy shores near Hau Tree. Families soak, splash, and explore these pristine waters in a variety of ways, including snorkeling, paddleboarding, and canoeing. Green sea turtles, triggerfish, and a variety of colorful underwater critters call this beach “home.”

Day 3: Explore the Land

It’s imperative to explore the island’s exceptionally biodiverse landscape while lodging in Waimea. Guests are urged to traverse the land on foot, in the air, and whilst strapped onto a zip line. The island boasts 11 distinct climate zones, which is a head-turning statistic in and of itself.

Day 4: Championship Golf

Seemingly every multi-day Big Island itinerary includes at least 18 holes at Mauna Kea Golf Course or Hapuna Golf Course, two of the most dazzling designs in the country. Robert Trent Jones’ classic 1964 design has stood the test of time here at Mauna Kea, thanks to the Kahola Coast’s black lava fields, seaside cliffs, and unobstructed Pacific Ocean views. Hapuna, meanwhile, is a challenging yet visually-striking links-style course that’s just a two-mile shuttle from the resort’s front lawn.

Day 5: A Culinary Journey

Photo of a Clambake, a Must-Try on Your Big Island ItineraryAs one of the premier Kohala Coast hotels, Mauna Kea is continually enhancing the guest experience, especially for foodies. Depending on the day, travelers young and old can indulge in a wide variety of authentic Hawaiian cuisines, contemporary eats, and innovative signature cocktails. After all, no Big Island itinerary is truly complete without an authentic luau or clambake. Keep in mind that reservations for both the weekly clambake and twice-weekly luau fill up fast.

To discover several more quintessential Big Island activities, please visit MaunaKeaBeachHotel.com. Mauna Kea remains one of the top-reviewed luxury hotels in Hawaii, regardless of the island. Please call the reservation team at 1-877-880-6524 to book a well-deserved escape to this tropical paradise.

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