Rockefeller needed to be a man of serious vision to see past the site’s shortcomings, including the lack of roads, fresh water, electricity, plumbing, vegetation, and pretty much every other infrastructural necessity. His serious means certainly helped, too. Even today, the nearest resort is a 15-minute drive and the nearest town, farther.
He used a strategy of “experting,” or hiring a world-class team to crack the problem. Golf starchitect Robert Trent Jones Sr. pioneered a technique for turning lava rock into soil and roped in Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Gary Player to launch the course. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill created a mid-century modern cascade of open-air concrete galleries that blended into the environment, inviting the outside in and reducing the need for air conditioning and other energy drains. And iconic interior designer Davis Allen assembled a 1,600-piece museum-worthy art collection, placing the hotel contextually amid other Asian and Oceanic destinations.