Island Unto Itself

Lanai makes its own fun

By: Marty Wentzel

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Surfing is one of the many
activities drawing visitors to Lanai.
When Mark Hellrung stepped in as the Four Seasons Resorts Lanai general manager three years ago, he asked travel agents and past guests about their impressions of the small island destination.

“They said it was a nice place to visit for two days, but there wasn’t much to do here,” said Hellrung. “We set out to change that perception.”

These days, travel agents can pitch Lanai as an island ripe with visitor activities.

“Four Seasons guests like to keep busy, and it’s reflected in the growth of their discretionary expenses,” Hellrung said. “They appreciate the fact that we offer activities they couldn’t necessarily do at home.”

One relatively new option, a three-island tour with Sunshine Helicopters, provides bird’s-eye views of Lanai highlights, such as Shipwreck Beach. After heading to Maui to refuel, it continues with a whirl over either Haleakala Crater or the dramatic sea cliffs of Molokai’s Kalaupapa Peninsula.

Lanai Surf Safari, introduced 18 months ago, has been a big hit with guests of all skills. Run by award-winning Lanai-born surfer Nick Palumbo, the program takes clients on a four-hour, four-wheel-drive outing to a secluded surf spot for hang-ten fun.

This summer, Lanai-based Mokai Brothers will introduce a 10-mile, two-hour ocean tour. They plan to use a group of environmentally friendly motor-assisted kayaks that can travel up to 15 mph, so clients can cover more distance than in conventional kayaks.

Palawai Outfitters will soon start ATV tours out of Palawai Basin, a flat plateau 1,600 feet above sea level. Emphasizing Lanai’s history, the three-hour adventure takes place in one- and two-seat vehicles.

Meanwhile, Four Seasons continues to promote the island’s established options like archery, sporting clays and air rifles at Lanai Pines, horseback rides from the Stables at Koele and upcountry hikes and mountain bike rides. Golf on two championship courses remains a big draw, as do snorkel and scuba trips aboard Trilogy Excursions’ sailing catamaran. The Lodge at Koele meticulously maintains its 18-hole executive putting course and its greens for croquet and lawn bowling. At the sister property at Manele Bay, the spa keeps refining its menu of pampering treatments.

Along with an abundance of activities, clients can reap the benefits of the Lodge at Koele’s recent $50 million renovation, bringing the 102-room hotel up to Four Seasons’ standards. Accommodations feature new color schemes, a 40-inch flat-screen television, DVD/CD player, signature beds and linens, high-speed Internet access, coffeemaker and lanai with dining table and outdoor furniture. Public areas have been refreshed, and hooded lounge chairs surround the pool. A spa and Kids For All Seasons facility are also planned. Manele Bay wrapped up a comparable upgrade in early 2006.

Thanks to new activities and upgraded hotels, the average length of stay for Four Seasons Resorts Lanai guests has grown to five days under Hellrung’s leadership. “We like to sell the entire destination rather than just our two resorts,” he said.


Four Seasons Resort Lanai, The Lodge at Koele
Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay

Lodge at Koele’s fourth-night-free promotion, with nightly rates from $295, runs through Dec. 18. Manele Bay’s fifth-night-free offer runs through Aug. 31, followed by a fourth-night-free deal Sept. 1- Dec. 18, with rates from $395.