Small Is Beautiful

Lanai offers peace and tranquility, until your clients decide it’s time to live it up

By: Marty Wentzel

LANAI CITY, Lanai The island of Lanai is billing itself as a destination where clients can really get away from it all.

“We’re sending the message that now, more than ever, Lanai is a place where time stands still and the woes of the world disappear,” said Waynette Ho-Kwon, spokeswoman for Destination Lanai, the marketing organization. “When you come to Lanai, you can pamper yourself with luxurious accommodations and exciting activities.”

Destination Lanai, a chapter of the Maui Visitors Bureau and the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, was formed in the mid-’90s to market the 140-square-mile island. With its sister islands of Maui and Molokai, Destination Lanai co-hosts the Destination Maui Nui seminars for mainland travel agents. The group participates in trade shows across the nation and, since the island does well with romance, wedding and honeymoon travelers, it advertises in major bridal magazines.

These various marketing efforts seem to be paying off, according to data from Hawaii’s Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. In January and February 2003, Lanai’s visitor count increased by 23.9 percent, compared to the same two months of 2002. Its overall 2002 count increased 32.5 percent over those from 2001.

But Hawaii’s smallest island faces many of the same problems as its bigger neighbors. “Lanai’s greatest obstacle these days is airlift,” said Ho-Kwon. “The general increase in interisland airfares and decrease in flights presents problems.” From Honolulu, round-trip fares to Lanai average $150. From Maui, nonstop round-trip flights can be as high as $195.

For clients who are on Maui, Ho-Kwon suggested taking the Expeditions passenger ferry to Lanai. The ferry runs five 45-minute round trips daily between Lahaina and Lanai’s Manele small-boat harbor. The one-way rates are $25 per adult and $20 per child, ages 2-11.

800-695-2624; Destination Lanai is enthusiastically promoting the many activities available on the island. “For an island that is 13 miles wide by 18 miles long, with only 3,000 people, we have lots of things to do,” said Ho-Kwon. “Most of our activities were established to give our visitors what they were looking for in adventure.” Options include golf, sporting clays, archery, air rifle, hiking, biking, 4x4 excursions, tennis, swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, helicopter tours, bird-watching, whale-watching, fishing, hunting, billiards and spa treatments.

A first for Lanai is the opening of Highlights Beauty Salon and Supply, offering facials, manicures, pedicures, acrylic nails, hairstyling and sales of salon products. Canoes Lanai bought the old Tanigawa’s Restaurant on the town square, reinventing the eatery with Pacific-fusion cuisine. The Harbor Cafe, at the Manele small-boat harbor, caters to travelers waiting for the Expeditions ferry.

Accommodations on the island range from humble bed-and-breakfasts, such as the 11-room Hotel Lanai, to the luxurious 102-room Lodge at Koele and the 250-room Manele Bay Hotel.

800-947-4774; www.visit