Formerly known as the Pineapple Island, today a chic luxury vacation is at the heart of this private and pristine Hawaiian Island.
In Lanai, it’s normal to go on a four-hour hike and not run into a single person. One of the smallest of Hawaii’s islands, Lanai is home to only 3,200 residents. It’s also a place that clings tightly to its virtually untouched, pristine culture and way of life. When you visit, you will understand why it fights to stay this way.
The exclusivity and VIP vibe of Lanai is unlike any of the other Hawaiian Islands. Off the beaten path and far from crowded beaches littered with people, Lanai is completely unspoiled. Though very different from what most people envision when they think of a Hawaiian destination, Lanai is full of mysteries that create quite an allure.
Here, we uncover some of the isle’s secrets, how it came to be called Billionaire Island, and why you need to pay this place a visit.
The exclusivity and VIP vibe of Lanai is unlike any of the other Hawaiian Islands.
Let’s start with the fact that 98 percent of Lanai is privately owned by billionaire Larry Ellison, founder of Oracle. Ellison purchased it in 2012 from David Murdock, who gained it from James Dole as part of Murdock’s acquisition of Castle & Cooke, a real estate and development company that owned first-class hotels and golf courses on the island.
But the history of Lanai dates back much further than that. Let’s rewind time to the 1500s. As the story goes, the son of Maui’s chief caused so much chaos when he destroyed a crop of breadfruit trees that, as a form of punishment, he was banished to the then-uninhabited landmass, known to the Maui people as the “island of spirits.”
Legend has it that the son, while there, rid the land of its evil spirits. He named the island Lanai, meaning “Day of Conquest.” People soon began migrating from Maui, and thus began Lanai’s life as a settled island.
Jump forward more than 400 years to when the first known wealthy homeowner came on the scene. James Dole, founder of Dole Pineapple, purchased the island for $1.1 million in 1922. He had great hopes for Lanai and established the majority of the island as we know it today.
Dole grew Lanai into the biggest pineapple producer in the world, and it remained such until overseas production of the tropical fruit drove prices down, leaving the Hawaiian plantations in the dust. In 1992, the island said farewell to its pineapple production with its final harvest of the fruit. The owner of the island at this time, David Murdock, switched gears and decided to develop Lanai as a tourism hot spot.
In 1992, the island said farewell to its pineapple production with its final pineapple crop harvest.
After pouring $30 million a year for numerous years into the island without seeing much return, Murdock decided to sell. Larry Ellison was the highest bidder.
Tourism was the focus for Ellison, and it still remains as such today. However, the business magnate had a different vision for Lanai as a vacation destination than what could be found on any other part of Hawaii. Ellison wanted to create a VIP experience that would make travelers feel as though they were on their own private island—a place where they would be treated like royalty.
And that is exactly what he did. Four Seasons Resort Lanai is Ellison’s dreams actualized. The resort’s Alii Royal Suite carries a price tag of $21,000 night, earning it the title of the most expensive hotel suite in Hawaii.
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Four Seasons Resort Lanai proudly boasts a long list of accolades, including U.S. News & World Report’s #1 Best Hotel in the U.S. for 2021, AAA’s Five Diamond Award, and Conde Nast Traveler Gold List and Travel & Leisure World Best status for 2020.
However, that’s not the only award the resort has won. If you’re wondering what to do in Lanai, or where to stay, you have options. The Seasons Resort Lanai proudly boasts a long list of accolades, including U.S. News & World Report’s #1 Best Hotel in the U.S. for 2021, AAA’s Five Diamond Award, and Conde Nast Traveler Gold List and Travel & Leisure World Best status for 2020. But Lanai is for a different type of traveler who wants more than a well-appointed stay—it is for those who don’t mind a quiet and Zen approach to vacation.
Radiating luxury and classic design, Four Seasons Resort Lanai is a chic respite from the stress of everyday life. Simply walk through the wide-open, airy entrance and release any tension you brought with you. From there, you’ll head to your room—a relaxing stroll that takes you through the property’s lush jungle-like greenery that’s alive with the joyful chirps of local wildlife.
Sure, you might be looking for things to do in Lanai, but this resort may have you wanting to never leave. Two lagoon-style pools with waterfalls and Jacuzzis offer idyllic setting to spend your day—there’s even an adults-only pool area for a more relaxing escape—but don’t overlook Hulopoe Bay with its sandy beach that fronts the resort. Epic snorkeling awaits in the large tide pools. Explore the waters on your own or join a beautifully guided tour to exclusive snorkeling spots. Complimentary snorkeling gear is available at the resort’s beach kiosk.
One of the resort’s biggest draws is its Manele Golf Course. Whether golf is your game or not, you will appreciate the breathtaking beauty of this course. Jack Nicklaus designed Manele so that every hole has ocean views. On some, you’ll even find yourself staring right over the edge of stunning cliffs that drop down to lava rocks and crashing waves below.
Bill Gates himself was so impressed with this course that he chose to make it his wedding spot. High above Hulopoe Bay, on the 12th hole, Gates married Melinda French in 1994.
Ellison also brought some of the world’s best dining to Lanai. As the owner of the ultra-trendy seafood chain, Nobu, he was able to open a location of the restaurant at the Four Seasons resort. Nobu Lanai is a dining experience unlike any you’ve ever had. Whether you sit at the sushi bar or the private balcony lounges, you’ll enjoy Chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s top-rated sushi and Japanese dishes against a panoramic backdrop of the ocean and the glistening stars above.
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And the best part? You won’t feel the rush of other Nobu restaurants as the seclusion and exclusivity of this location in Lanai allows you to soak up every moment of your epic meal.
The Four Seasons Resort Lanai provides luxury from start to finish, including full service at the airport like greetings on the tarmac, refueling and catering.
Regardless of your vacation preferences, on Billionaire Island, your experience will never be anything less than sheer luxury.