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.

Hawaii golf coursesAs a large portion of the United States gets bombarded by snowstorms and subzero temperatures, Hawaii’s Kohala Coast remains a warm and sunny tropical paradise. There’s no better time than right now to book a well-deserved golf getaway to Mauna Kea Beach Hotel as there are several months left of winter in the contiguous United States. When you choose an elegant getaway with Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, you’ll always be minutes away from a potential tee time at two of the premier Hawaii golf courses: Mauna Kea and Hapuna. Kama’aina (a Hawaii resident) can save up to 30 percent on overnight accommodations here at one of the premier Hawaii beach hotels.

Mauna Kea Golf Course

Hawaii golf coursesMauna Kea Golf Course made history in 1964 when it became the first golf course constructed on the Island of Hawaii. Incredibly, our on-site championship course remains one of the best Hawaii golf courses. Mauna Kea was designed by famous architect Robert Trent Jones Sr., who reportedly told philanthropist Laurance S. Rockefeller: “If you allow me to build a golf course here, this will be the most beautiful hole in the world.” Jones was, of course, talking about our famous third hole, which provides golfers with a genuinely breathtaking tee shot on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. This once barren black lava field was transformed into a lush landscape with undeniably beautiful ocean views, dramatic seaside cliffs, and pristine Tifeagle bermudagrass. After each unforgettable round of golf, sit down for a refreshing ale and grilled fish tacos at Number 3 Restaurant.

Hapuna Golf Course

Hawaii golf coursesHop aboard a shuttle from Mauna Kea Beach Hotel to nearby Hapuna Golf Course (a 2.5-mile journey) for 18 more holes of world-class golf. Hapuna is an often overlooked destination because of Mauna Kea’s five-star reputation, but it’s easily one of the premier Island of Hawaii golf courses. This links-style course features spectacular Kohala Coast views and dramatic elevation changes, but the unique desert terrain is a huge selling point for visiting golfers. Hapuna was designed by hall-of-fame golfer Arnold Palmer and brilliant developer Ed Seay. There are very few Island of Hawaii golf courses that offer such a challenging design, but the panoramic Pacific Ocean views will help keep you on your game.

Hawaii Five-Star Hotels

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is one of the only Hawaii golf resorts on this side of the island. We have several tower rooms that have splendid views of both the on-site golf course and the Pacific Ocean. When you’re not putting for birdie, you can sunbathe at picturesque Kauna’oa Bay and enjoy the laid-back luxury of your guest room. If you’re looking to reserve Hawaii tee times, simply give us a call today at 1-877-880-6524 or visit our website.

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