ALOHA! Lāna’i Hawaii – Americans, No Passports Required

By Marsha Reeves Jews

An invitation to the Lāna’i, Jazz Festival, happening at a Four Seasons Hotel on a beautiful private island in Hawaii, was more than I could fathom. What does a private island mean, exactly? Here is this beautiful small island in Hawaii, which gave way to the exploration of not only the wedding market, but what money and power can buy: an island. As a matter of fact, I had not even been to Hawaii. I don’t believe, for whatever reason, I had even considered Hawaii as a destination for me. I seem to relish most locations that seem to head east; odd, but true.

What became very interesting was when people I knew started discussing the Lāna’i Jazz Festival which was being held at the Four Seasons Resort, Lodge at Koele, a bit of information was revealed that truly piqued my interest. What was also quite interesting was that the Four Seasons brand has two properties on Lāna’i, which included the sister property, the Four Season Manele Bay, as indicated in their name right on the water with all their normal waterfront accouterments.

One of the other fascinating aspects of this island was that it had recently been purchased by the fifth-richest man in the world, Larry Ellison, a founder of Oracle, with 97% ownership of the island. I was just shocked, how does someone purchase an inhabited island? Then I found out that there is really only one town, Lāna’i City, where all of the island’s 3,200 residents reside. This $300 million dollar purchase was indeed mind-boggling! In the deal Ellison now owned – “a 1/3 of all the houses and apartments; the islands two Four Seasons-run hotels; the central commons at the heart of Lāna’i City, called Dole Park, and all the buildings around it; the town swimming pool; the community center; the theater; a grocery store; two golf courses; a wastewater treatment plan; the water company; and a cemetery. All of this acquisition resulted in the ownership of 87,000 of the island’s 90,000 acres.”



As a side note, I must also share that I had the privilege to board the maiden voyage of the airline that Ellison purchased to connect Lāna’i to Honolulu. As you can only imagine a man with such wealth, Larry Ellison is worth $46 billion, and enjoys the life of luxury. This island has become his project and is positioned to become a premier tourist destination and the first economically viable, 100 percent green community, “an innovative, self-sufficient dreamscape of renewable energy, electric cars and sustainable agriculture.”

An article published by the Hawaiian Historical Society describes the story of a Mormon, Walter Murray Gibson, who started purchasing land on Lāna’i as early as the late 1800s, until he controlled the entire island. Ironically, he paid for the land with the church’s money, but put the titles in his own name. Through a myriad of owners and challenges, in 1922, James Drummond Dole paid $1.1 million for the land and his pineapple business flourished for 70 years. However, by 1992 overseas production took over the pineapple industry and Lāna’i was finally sold to California billionaire David Murdock who tried a variety of businesses and found the relationship with the residents was far too cumbersome, ergo the sale to Ellison. This sale is changing the lives of the citizens and creating an incredible tourism destination of pure luxury!

This very special place is absolutely beautiful, surrounded by mountains, prairies and the Pacific Ocean. The sea life allows for snorkeling or scuba diving, and of course, for the horticulturists some of the most magnificent gardens are available with to die for flowers that are amazingly vibrant. As is customary, there are hiking paths and horseback excursions within the lushest trails. Of course, if you are a golfer you can find incredible golf courses at the Koele Lodge, designed by Jack Nicklaus.

1. Four Seasons – Manele Bay: Set by the Pacific Ocean and Manele Bay this property’s offering unparalleled service and luxury. Embodying the vision and principles of the traditional Four Season’s Lāna’i renowned standard. This sanctuary of beauty and sophistication sets new standards for a resort experience. Inspiring architecture and ambiance, a magnificent natural setting, exquisite accommodations, spectacular facilities, championship golf course and a world-class spa, unsurpassed pampering, comforts and service – all seamlessly blended to create a destination unlike any other – giving their guests the extraordinary perfection. Adjoining the Pacific Ocean is the Manele Bay and Beach, which features pristine turquoise waters surrounded by breathtaking forest, guests can expect a high level of privacy coupled with exceptional unobtrusive personalized service.

This secluded retreat has 220 spacious luxury guest rooms and suites with gorgeous views and serene gardens.

2. Four Seasons – Koele: Experience the rustic elegance, tucked away in a pocket of a beautiful hillside is a 102-room luxury resort hotel where golf courses, small lakes and trails make it a perfect place to relax, rejuvenate and enjoy life’s extraordinary pleasures. This property is an oasis in the heart of a sublime nature surrounded by extraordinary colorful mountains, strewn with carpet of flowers and rare fragrant and essences, intersected by fields and prairies that you don’t expect in Hawaii.

The Koele Lodge is a unique mountain hotel, a haven of peace and serenity that invites you to relax and rest. The large and beautiful garden and refined furnishings, the originality and elegance of a discreet luxury, attention to detail in the decoration make each room a unique place of comfort and harmony.

These two luxurious Four Season brands are clearly a marriage of two completely different properties on one island, where guests are welcome to visit and use the services and amenities of both the Manele Bay and Resort Lāna’i, The Lodge at Koele. A wonderful retreat for a beautiful, memorable destination wedding!

3. Aqua Hotel Lāna’i has been offering the best in hospitality since 1923. This was the first hotel in Lanai, owned by the Dole family, built as a retreat for the Dole Company Executives and important guests. This historic location has 10 guest rooms and an adjacent caretaker cottage, and has the appointments of a boutique resort plantation property. This incredible historical property is located in Lanai City surrounded by art galleries, parks and boutiques.

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