(MAUNA KEA RESORT, Hawaii) - The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel celebrated a soft opening marking the return of the Laurance Rockefeller-built beachfront hotel and one of the world's most revered resorts on the Big Island's Kohala Coast.
Two years after being forced to close due to earthquake damage, The Mauna Kea reopened with a traditional Hawaiian blessing and welcomed its first guests to experience a multi-million dollar investment in redesigned, spacious guest rooms, new restaurants, a new spa, and an extensive makeover of the legendary golf course complete with a new clubhouse.
"We are really excited to be open again and a lot of hard work has gone into renovating and refreshing the property," said Donn Takahashi, president of Prince Resorts Hawaii. "People are eager to experience Mauna Kea again, and we are thrilled to be back and better than ever."
The flagship property of the Prince Hotels and Resorts international portfolio, Mauna Kea will have its "official" Grand Opening in March.
"The soft opening serves as a final staff dress rehearsal and an opportunity to ensure that everything is working before we really go out there and celebrate," said Takahashi.
General Manager Jon Gersonde added that the excitement among employees is palpable. "We are welcoming back many old friends who loved coming here each year. This weekend will be like a homecoming as they become reacquainted with the hotel and greet the many former workers who have also returned. Many long-time employees jumped at the opportunity to come back to Mauna Kea, so the reopening has the feel of a family reunion," said Gersonde.
The hotel's classic exterior architecture design remains the same as before, with the most dramatic changes taking place inside the guestrooms. The total room and suite count has been reduced from 310 to 258 due to the enlarging of rooms in the main building.
The Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa suites are a spacious 1,610 square feet (including lanai) and the Junior suites measure just under 1,000 square feet, while the regular guest rooms on the remodeled floors have been expanded to 550 square feet.
With luxurious interior furnishings, upgraded bedding, oceanview bathrooms, and a host of the latest in entertainment amenities, the guestrooms have never been more comfortably modern while staying true to Rockefeller's vision of "understated elegance."
The new oceanview bathrooms are sure to be popular, with the super-size baths, wall-less "rain showers," soaking tubs, and private lanai.
"The entire guestroom experience brings a level of comfort that will re-establish The Mauna Kea as the premier luxury hotel on the Big Island," said Gersonde.
Other new attractions at the hotel include a Mandara Spa offering an array of exotic treatments, and enticing new culinary experiences directed by Resort Executive Chef Piet Wigmans and Executive Chef George Gomes, who has returned to Mauna Kea following a distinguished career in some of Hawaii's finest restaurants.
Also opening this week is the "new" Mauna Kea Golf Course, which has been completely renovated from tee-to-green over the past year.
Overseen by Rees Jones, son of the original course designer, Robert Trent Jones, Sr., the world-class Mauna Kea Golf Course has been upgraded and redesigned to USGA standards featuring new grass throughout the course layout, rebuilt bunkers, and a new irrigation system. The renovation includes a newly constructed Clubhouse with Pro Shop and locker rooms, as well as a restaurant that can serve as another dinner option for resort guests.
Many popular resort activities are also back, including the 13-court Seaside Tennis Club, the Salon at Mauna Kea, play-while-you learn children's activities, Hawaiian cultural experiences, the Art & Garden Tour, yoga and exercise classes, and enhanced beach services and cabanas. The fabled manta rays are expected to return for their nightly feeding forays off Manta Ray Point.
Opened in 1965 and located on 60 acres overlooking Kauna'oa Bay - one of Hawaii's finest natural white sand beaches - the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is known for a remarkable sense of place that embraces without intruding on its dramatic natural surroundings. In 2007, the American Institute of Architects recognized the hotel as one of the 150 best works of architecture nationwide.
Reservations can be arranged through a preferred travel planner or by calling Prince Resorts Hawaii's Luxury Desk toll-free at 1-866-977-4589. For the latest updates and information, visit www.maunakeapreview.com.