The award-winning Mauna Kea Beach Hotel has been operating since 1965 and quickly became a household favorite as it was the largest, most expensive, and most luxurious hotel built at the time. In October of 2006, a 6.7 magnitude earthquake devastated the Hawaiian islands causing damage to homes, buildings, and roads. One of those damaged structures was the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel; the earthquake had destroyed the top floor and collapsed the entire south end of the hotel. Due to the extent of the damage, the hotel was forced to close, and plans to rebuild and renovate the hotel began. As over 200 rooms needed renovating and the entire south building was at risk of caving in, renovators prioritized reinforcing the structure and foundation. Prior to the earthquake, the hotel had a total of 310 rooms but was reduced to 258 after renovations. Guest rooms were given a complete makeover, rooms in the main tower were enlarged hence the reduced number of rooms. Guest rooms have been completely refurbished with modern designs, spacious floor plans, and enhanced amenities such as digital media hubs, bedside iPod docks, and flat-screen TVs. Large soaking tubs and walk-in closets have also been added to the suites and larger guest rooms. The lobby and public areas were expanded to fit more retail stores and also received renovations such as porcelain floor tiles, lighting systems, stone countertops, as well as teak case and millwork.
The front desk has been replaced to resemble a more intimate interaction with seats and personalized check-ins for all guests. A brand new 4,000 square foot spa, Mandara Spa, was also added in addition to a new fitness center. Other luxury interior additions to the hotel include a koi pond, a new IT system, and motorized skylights. Rees Jones, son of the original Mauna Kea Golf Course designer, used this time to revitalize his father’s design. Jones renovations also included a new golf clubhouse with ProShop, locker rooms, and restaurant. The hotel’s general manager, Jon Gersonde, stated he wanted to use this time to update and restore Mauna Kea to its reputation of sophistication and luxury. After $150 million in renovation costs, the hotel had a soft opening in December 2008, followed by a grand opening in March 2009, and Gersonde did not disappoint.