MAUNA KEA RESORT, HI – Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan enjoyed a luxurious suite at the famed Mauna Kea Beach Hotel on Hawaii’s Big Island during a daylong visit to the Island on July 16.
At Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, more than 100 well-wishers awaited the royal couple as they pulled up at the entrance in their motorcade. Hotel general manager Jon Gersonde welcomed the Emperor and Empress who had last visited Hawaii 15 years ago.
“It’s a privilege and an honor to have Japan’s royal couple enjoy the hospitality of The Mauna Kea,” said Gersonde. “They were most gracious to everyone and made us feel very special.”
Emperor Akihito’s father and mother, Emperor Hirohito and Empress Showa, vacationed at The Mauna Kea for several days in 1975 and planted a tree in the grounds to commemorate their visit.
Emperor Akihito and his wife arrived at The Mauna Kea directly from Kona Airport where they had flown in from Honolulu on the Royal jet, a Boeing 747. They enjoyed a private lunch in a suite overlooking Mauna Kea’s beautiful Kauna’oa beach. The couple later traveled up country to Waimea where they visited the historic Parker Ranch and saw a display of calf roping by Hawaii paniolo (cowboys). They later returned to The Mauna Kea to freshen up before leaving for Kona International Airport for their flight to Japan.
The royal couple enjoyed three days in Hawaii following an 11-day visit to Canada. They were accompanied by about three dozen television and print journalists from Japan. The ensuing media coverage is expected to cast a positive spotlight on Hawaii, which is a favorite holiday destination for the Japanese.
The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel reopened in December following an extensive multi-million dollar renovation and restoration. The hotel was originally developed by Laurence Rockefeller and opened in 1965. In 2008, it was named one of the top 100 iconic buildings in the United States by the American Institute of Architects.