The idea of a hill resort located near Kuala Lumpur occurred to Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong during a business trip to the Cameron Highlands in 1964. He mooted this idea while enjoying the fresh and crisp air from the balcony of his hotel room. A private company called Genting Highlands Berhad was set up on 27 April 1965, with the late Tan Sri Haji Mohammed Noah bin Omar, Tan Sri Lim successfully obtained approval for the alienation of 12,000 acres (4,900 ha) and 2,800 acres (1,100 ha) of land from the Pahang and Selangor State Government respectively between the years 1965 and 1970. An anomaly happened during the obtaining of the land approvals. While the Pahang state government swiftly approved a freehold lease, the Selangor state reluctantly approved a 99-year lease. As a result, Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong met the then Menteri Besar of Selangor, Dato Harun Idris and told him that a freehold lease would be more feasible than a 99-year lease. Finally, the Selangor state government agreed to grant a freehold lease.
On 18 August 1965, a technical and construction team began the four-year task to complete the access road from Genting Sempah to the peak of Gunung Ulu Kali. On 31 March 1969, the late YTM Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia’s first Prime Minister laid the foundation stone for the company’s pioneer hotel, marking the completion of the access road to Genting Highlands Resort. The Prime Minister was impressed that the private sector, without the assistance of the Government, could develop a mountain resort for the enjoyment of all Malaysians; subsequently a gaming licence was suggested to help accelerate the development of this remote area.
In 1971, the first hotel at Genting Highlands was successfully completed and was named Highlands Hotel (now renamed as Theme Park Hotel). The Genting Highlands Resort continued to expand since the opening of the first hotel in 1971. Development of the area continued with care taken to ensure the maintenance of the natural beauty of the rainforest of the region. In 1997, Genting Highlands Resort added the Genting Skyway cable car system that provides a 3.38 kilometres (2.10 mi) transport to the hilltop. Genting Skyway is also recognised as the "World's Fastest Mono Cable Car System" with a maximum speed of 21.6 kilometres per hour (13.4 mph) and the "Longest Cable Car in Malaysia and probably in Southeast Asia".
In 2013, Genting Malaysia embarked on a master plan to reinvigorate and transform RWG under the Genting Integrated Tourism Plan (GITP). Genting Integrated Tourism Plan is a 10-year master plan for development, expansion, enhancement and refurbishment of hotels, theme park and infrastructure at Resorts World Genting. The plan with different phases involves a new 1,300 room hotel expansion to the current First World Hotel, a new 10,000 seat arena and reconverting the Genting Outdoor Theme Park to 20th Century Fox World.