You don’t have to be a movie star to buy an island. You just have to have the desire and, oh, about $300 million. That’s exactly the formula Larry Ellison, the CEO of software giant Oracle, had when he purchased 98 percent of Hawaii’s charming island of Lanai in 2012. (The other 2 percent is owned by the state and other families.) But the 69-year-old businessman isn’t content with just lying on the beach and soaking in the sun. No, he has big plans to make the island into an ecotourism haven, a project that extends to all the hotels, restaurants, spas and entertainment centers. While Ellison shows that it’s possible to maintain luxury while saving the planet, guests at his Four Seasons Resort Lana’i at Manele Bay can experience these green initiatives while doing the things that most people do on vacation anyway — relaxing, eating and sightseeing.
Relax on the Island
Find a bit of calm at the newly refurbished The Spa at Four Seasons Resort Lana’i at Manele Bay. This stunning addition to the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel — the property also recently debuted new retail space, dining options, main lobby and 13 penthouse suites — is situated right across from the gleaming white sands and crystalline waters of Hulopo’e Beach. When you visit the Four-Star spa, you get a Kala’Au Pa’i, a complimentary welcome ritual that consists of a gentle foot exfoliation and reflexology using kala’au (locally grown guava sticks). The spa also offers traditional Hawaiian treatments, including Ki Pola Ho’olu (a cooling ti-leaf wrap), a warm stone facial and a special lomilomi massage — all of which you can enjoy in the pristine, natural-wood facility that not only has the advantage of location, but serves as a good reflection of the colors and tones found elsewhere on the island.
Eat on the Island
This 18-mile-wide island once grew the majority of the world’s pineapples. Even though most of the fruit now comes from South America, you can still indulge in tasty pineapple and many other local foods. One place to pick them up is Lanai ‘Ohana Poke Market, a laid-back spot that specializes in poke, a native version of ceviche that usually includes ahi or octopus, chili pepper, candlenut, flying fish roe, tomato and seaweed. It’s perfect for a pre- or post-beach snack. For a slightly more formal dining experience, try the Four Seasons’ just-opened restaurant Views. Living up to its name, the establishment offers stunning looks onto Manele Bay beach while, at the same time, giving you plenty to gawk over on the menu. The cliff-side eatery serves items such as Cajun fish tacos, kalbi rib lettuce wraps and chicken katsu on ciabatta at lunch and happy hour.
See the Island
Just north of Lanai City you can find the beginning of Munro Trail, a seven-mile hike that affords gorgeous views of the whole island. At one point, it runs 3,370 feet up to Lanai’s highest peak called Mount Lanaihale, providing you with a magnificent glimpse at nearly all of Ellison’s playland. The journey also takes you near the Maunalei Gulch and through a spectacular rainforest where you’ll encounter eucalyptus, ironwood, ‘ohi’a lehua trees, and native wildlife such as axis deer. It’s a fresh way to see the island. Of course, if you aren’t up for doing the self-guided trip, the Four Seasons has you covered in that respect, too, thanks to three new complimentary walking tours led by the resort’s beach specialists that range from 60 to 90 minutes and cover the beauty and history of Lanai.
Photos Courtesy of Four Seasons