Waikiki Awaits

As trite as it sounds, what I really like about Hawai‘i (other than the beaches, the warm water and the Pacific island food) is the aloha spirit. The easygoing island mood reminds me of the more relaxed Marin of some 30 or more years ago. It’s a welcome antidote to our overcaffeinated Bay Area lifestyle, and I was looking forward to soaking it up when I headed to Honolulu for a four-day family vacation in Waikiki.

My wife, my six-year-old and I flew on American Airlines from San Francisco to Honolulu, anticipating some fun in the sun and surf. I was also curious to see Waikiki’s much-touted renewal.

At the airport, we were greeted with the traditional flower lei before being shuttled a short distance to the Aqua Palms, a boutique hotel right across the street from the Hilton Hawai‘ian Village. The Palms represents the latest in Waikiki hotel trends—major room renovations, common-area upgrades and, in general, a more upscale, modern experience.

In the last decade, Honolulu has spent $80 million refurbishing Waikiki’s streets, sidewalks, parks and even sewer lines. Local officials saw the money as a reinvestment in an area that generates about 20 percent of the city’s tax revenue. Also, the state has begun to restore the beach, contributing about $500,000 to the effort in the last year. The hotel company Outrigger Enterprises and others, including Sheraton/Kyo-ya, Royal Hawai‘ian Shopping Center/Kamehameha Schools, Marriott, Hilton and the retail center 2100 Kalakaua, have pumped in more than $100 billion. The hospitality chain Kyo-ya owns the most rooms in Waikiki (Sheraton Waikiki, the Westin Moana Surfrider, the Royal Hawai‘ian and the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani). Outrigger, though, manages the most rooms (five Outriggers, the Ala Moana Hotel, Wyland Waikiki, Pacific Beach Hotel and six Ohana hotels in Waikiki).

Additionally, groups such as Starwood, ResortQuest Hawai‘i, Napili Partners (Hotel Renew), Outrigger Enterprises Group (Waikiki Beach Walk, Embassy Suites, Ohana) and Trump (Trump Tower) have invested in developing, remodeling and rebranding. Classic high-end properties such as the venerable Halekulani have renovated and added spas. On the whole, Hawai‘i is catering to higher-spending, longer-staying visitors, targeting its biggest market: the U.S. West Coast.

The first phoenix to rise from the rubble is the Waikiki Beach Walk, which just celebrated its completion last May—along with the 60th anniversary of Outrigger Hotels and Resorts. Roy and Estelle Kelley, founders of Outrigger opened The Islander Hotel, in 1947. In a speech commemorating both occasions, Dr. Richard Kelley, Chairman of Outrigger Enterprises and son of the founders, recalled how his parents helped the world discover Waikiki and hence all of Hawai‘i. “Waikiki Beach Walk,” he said, “marks the beginning of an exciting new era for Waikiki, building on our reputation as a world-class destination and, we believe, raising it to new heights.”

These new heights consist of eight acres of shopping, six restaurants, an outdoor entertainment plaza with daily free activities including Hawai‘ian language and hula lessons for the whole family.

Waikiki Beach was exactly what I expected: bordered by a dense wall of hotels and blanketed with a swath of sunbathers, Japanese tourists, local families and sunburned eccentrics. The beach itself is quite beautiful, a crescent-shaped stretch of sand punctuated by the signature rugged Diamond Head on the western end. Waikiki was once a special place for native Hawai‘ians and has evolved from a middle-market tourist mecca to a contemporary trendy destination.



Where to Stay

Embassy Suites This new 421-room, 21-story Embassy Suites sits at the heart of the Waikiki Beach Walk and was part of the 8-acre redevelopment program created by Outrigger Enterprises.

Rack Rates City View guest-rooms start at $269, Ocean View guest-rooms $319 and a two-bedroom, two-bath suite starts at $469. Eats Bay Area classics like Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and Cheesecake Factory are within walking distance Wow! Guests are treated to a complimentary cooked-to-order breakfast with selections like eggs anyway you like and choose-your-own omelets. Contact 800.362.2779, embassysuiteswaikiki.com

Hilton Waikiki Prince Kuhio Following a 65-million dollar renovation, this 37- story hotel is just steps from Waikiki Beach.

Rack Rates Standard rooms start at $200 while ocean front, $299. Eats For anytime dining try the MAC 24 – 7 restaurant featuring modern American cooking. Wow! The hotel’s recent upgrades feature a swanky, contemporary look complete with flat screen televisions and designer bedding. Contact 808.922.0811, hilton.com

Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort Known as “The First Lady of Waikiki” and built in 1901, the hotel was the height of luxury for that time, offering telephones and the first electric powered elevator in the territory. Eventually it was bought by Sheraton, and was just recently renovated and rebranded as a Westin last June.

Rack Rates $395 for city view rooms, $560 for a partial ocean view room and $640 for a deluxe ocean view room. Eats In October the resort will return to its rich history and traditions by once again offering tea service and finger sandwiches on the Banyan Veranda. Wow! Take a dip in the freshwater swimming pool, which sits directly behind the hotel’s private beach. Be sure to visit the 75-foot tall Banyan Tree, among one of the first to be listed on Hawai‘i’s Rare and Exceptional Tree List. This tree was planted by the hotel as a 7-foot sapling in 1904. Contact 808.922.3111, moana-surfrider.com

Waikiki Parc The Waikiki Parc Hotel recently completed a multimillion dollar renovation. Each room features ebony wood headboards, crisp white bedding and flat screen televisions.

Rack Rates Standard rooms start at $275, deluxe ocean view rooms start at $415. Eats Chef Nobu Matsuhisa has opened Nobu Waikiki in the lobby of the Waikiki Parc, currently the most expensive restaurant ever built in the islands. Wow! The hotel’s outdoor rooftop pool is the perfect place to enjoy a Blue Hawai‘ian and take in the sights. Ask about the Lotus Experience program—two nights and 24-hour rental of the Lotus Elise. Contact 800.422.0450, waikikiparc.com

Image:  By Ben Davidson, Twilight on Waikiki Beach






Ch, Ch, Changes…

What's new on the neighbor islands

Hershey’s has unveiled a new treat called Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Kisses, Don Ho is now singing with the angels and the Alakai, or Hawai‘i Superferry, just instated car and passenger service from O‘ahu to Kaua‘i and Maui. Even in our laid-back 50th state, change is inevitable. One constant reminder of time’s forward march is the rumble of the backhoe, along with the rat-a-tat of jackhammers. While a few now-shuttered standbys like Kaua‘i’s Coco Palms and the Big Island’s Mauna Kea Beach Hotel wait out their fate in limbo, dozens of other properties built in the late ’60s through the ’80s have had multimillion-dollar renovations. In step with the decade-long revamp of O‘ahu’s Waikiki, here’s a look at what’s new and revitalized on the surrounding neighbor islands.

Long before airplanes and ocean liners brought thousands of tourists a week to Kahului, seafaring whalers and sailors crowded the port of Lahaina, where Lahainaluna High School, the very first high school west of the Rockies, was built in 1831. (The school, still open, recently made headlines observing its 175-year anniversary.) Last July, Maui added yet another superlative to its shores, when University of Hawai‘i officials dedicated a telescope, called PS1, atop Haleakala crater. The telescope will soon be equipped with the world’s largest digital camera — 1.4 billion pixels — which will help astronomers scan the sky for “killer asteroids,” among other interesting phenomena. On the terrestrial front, property sales have begun in the 11-acre Maluaka community, the island’s first green residential development. Among its sustainable design aspects are storm water retention, a photovoltaic energy system and use of low-emission materials throughout the building process. Maluaka is in the process of earning Silver and Gold levels of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification — the first residential project in Hawai‘i to meet the criteria.

The Royal Lahaina Resort in Ka‘anapali Built in 1962, this iconic property is right on the beach, three miles north of Lahaina. A new $30 million renovation was completed on the grounds, in the guest rooms of the 12-story tower and the beachfront and garden cottages.

Rack Rates Guest rooms $200 to $500; tower suites $550 to $1,225. Pool Three pools, two of them oceanfront. Sand There’s a ton of it. Ka‘anapali beach has been consistently recognized as one of the best beaches in the world. Take part in sailing, bodysurfing, surfing, snorkeling and diving. Eats On site, choose from contemporary Hawai‘ian cuisine at the Royal Ocean Terrace or island-style appetizers at Don the Beachcomber Tiki Lounge; or try Lahaina’s offerings just down the road. What else? Besides walking trails and the two 18-hole options at the Royal Ka‘anapali Golf Course, the “tennis ranch” offers 11 courts, six of them lighted for night play. Wow! Every night, the conch shell blows at sunset announcing a luau, complete with full buffet, Polynesian dancers, musicians and fire artists. Contact 800.222.5642, royallahaina.net

Outrigger Napili Shores Not only have they upped the thread count at this good-value prime-location spot, but flat-screen televisions, granite countertops and quiet dishwashers were added to all units.

Rack Rates Garden view starts at $205, ocean view at $239, oceanfront at $275. Pool Oceanfront and heated garden pool with whirlpool spa. Sand A five-minute drive to the award-winning Kapalua or Ka‘anapali beach. Eats Two on-site choices: the Fish & Poi Restaurant, with Pacific Rim cuisine, or the Oceanside Gazebo Restaurant, where the macadamia nut pancakes are a popular breakfast. What else? Relaxed old-style environment with plenty of wide-open space. A terraced lawn leads to the ocean; shuffleboard deck area and a large checkerboard where coconuts are used as checkers; plus proximity to all that Kapalua has to offer, right up the road. Wow! Oceanfront trail heads down to Napili Bay—awe-inspiring swimming and snorkeling. Front-row seat for humpback whale watching in the winter. Contact 800.688.7444, outriggercondominiums.com

The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua By December 2007 the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua hopes to open its doors after a $125 million extensive remodel, just in time for the Mercedes-Benz Championship. The hotel is part of the 23,000-acre Kapalua Resort, which plans to spend upwards of $330 million on infrastructure improvements, luxury homes, condos and apartments at this west Maui primo locale.

Rack Rates Garden rooms start at $505, ocean-view $645, club-level $725, oceanfront suite $955, club-level suites $1,200. Pool Three-tiered pool and children’s pool, Jacuzzis. Sand Three award-winning white sand beaches, including D. T. Fleming, Oneloa and Kapalua Bay, all within walking distance. For the more adventurous, rental equipment and lessons are available for windsurfing, scuba, kayaking, diving and snorkeling. Eats On site, the Banyan Tree has eclectic Pacific cuisine from Chef Jojo Vasquez. The Terrace serves a breakfast buffet and regional Pacific fare for lunch and dinner. Kai Sushi Bar has Japanese appetizers as well as sushi and sashimi. For casual dining, choose the Beach House Bar & Grill or the Pool Bar & Cafe. What else? A hundred miles of hiking trails, a new Hawai‘ian-inspired spa, proximity to championship tennis courts and two world-class golf courses; the latter were both Audubon-certified and voted No. 1 Golf Destination in Hawai‘i for 2006 by readers of Travel + Leisure Golf magazine. Wow! They plan to double the size of the Spa at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua to 14,000 square feet, which will include private outdoor gardens, couples’ cabanas and treatments based on traditional Hawai‘ian healing practices.  Contact 808.669.6200, ritzcarlton.com

Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa This resort is just about to finish a $60 million renovation, including all rooms and exterior areas, a new spa and a fitness facility.

Rack Rates Guest rooms start at $499-$800, tower suites at $750-$5800. Pool Outdoor pool and Wailele Children’s pool both offer great ocean views. Sand A short walk (.3 miles) to Wailea Beach. Eats Hula Moons restaurant and lounge for any meal of the day; lunch is served at Kumu Bar & Grill, or opt for local fare and entertainment at the Honua Ula Luau Dinner Show. What else? Three golf courses within 5 miles, hiking and biking trails, snorkeling, scuba. Wow! Easy access to the Wailea shops and attractions. Contact 808.879.1922, marriott.com

Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea Keen to keep its status as Hawai‘i’s first and only AAA Five Diamond and Mobil Five-Star resort, the Four Seasons has just undergone a $50 million renovation. This was the very first Four Seasons Resort when it was built in 1990 and it still gets high marks, rated No. 3 destination spa in the world by Zagat Survey 2007/2008.

Rack Rates Guest rooms start at $440, executive suites $825, one-bedroom suite $970, two-bedroom suites $1,890; the luxury Maile suite is $11,500. Pool Fountain pool in the center of the resort has a whirlpool at either end. Sand The white sands of Wailea Beach are steps away. Eats Ferraro’s Bar e Ristorante is a casual spot with delicious island fare, including pizzas made from a kiawe wood-burning stove; Spago is an island-inspired Wolfgang Puck experience; DUO offers luxurious poolside dining. What else? Wailea Gold golf course; two tennis courts, lit at night; snorkeling; scuba. Wow! Voted one of the top spas in America, the spa offers a total wellness experience, including transformative treatments from head to toe. Contact 800.311.0630, fourseasons.com

Grand Wailea Maui, Napua Tower/Ho‘olei Built in 1991 as a Hyatt Regency Grand Wailea Resort and Spa, the property was touted as the world’s most expensive hotel. Recently much has been happening at the 40-acre resort, literally, after a multimillion-dollar project, lots just across the street have been turned into vacation rental properties at Ho‘olei. Also just completed: a 100-guest-room private club area called Napua Tower.

Rack Rates Guest rooms at Napua start at $1,200, two-bedroom town homes at Ho‘olei start at $1,000. Pool Besides the elaborate waterpark-like Wailea Canyon Activity pool, the Napua Tower has its own children’s pool, and Ho‘olei features a large pool with swim-in grotto and 19-foot waterfall and children’s pool. Sand Both properties are steps off the award-winning Wailea Beach Eats Humuhumunukunukuapua’a is a “floating” seafood restaurant named after Hawai‘i’s official state fish. Affectionately known as Humu Humu, the restaurant is composed of a cluster of thatch-roof Polynesian huts. Guests may select their own lobster from the lagoon or savor delicious island cuisine with Polynesian and Hawai‘ian influences. What else? Besides amenities like a fitness center with oversize showers and sauna, guests have access to all that the Grand Wailea has to offer, such as the Spa Grande, Wailea Golf Club, tennis, snorkeling and more. Wow! Guests of the Napua Tower will have access to a personalized concierge who will contact them prior to arrival to make necessary reservations for the entire stay. Contacts 800.888.6100, grandwailea.com



Great news for those in the Bay Area who hail Kaua‘i as their slice of heaven: ATA Airlines now has a direct flight from Oakland to Lihue, leaving at 6 p.m. and arriving in time for a late evening mai tai. Hospitality giants Marriott and Ritz-Carlton have broken ground on Kaua‘i Lagoons, their biggest joint effort to date.

Located just south of the airport along Kalapaki Beach, that resort will include a golf course, homes and condominiums — some set around a 38-acre lagoon navigated by classic Chris-Craft boats.

With an eye toward sustainability, the developers are keeping a significant portion of the 520 acres in their natural state. There’s also lots of new construction under way in the Poipu area; one completed project is the Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i’s newly expanded spa and fitness center, making it the largest on the island (second-largest in the state).

Sheraton Kaua‘i Resort Back in 1992, Hurricane Iniki ravaged this entire property. The hotel, built by Sheraton in 1968, was completely rebuilt and reopened in 1997; it recently had a $14 million renovation, focused on the interiors.

Rack Rates Starting rates for garden view $400, oceanfront $690, deluxe oceanfront suites $1,650. Pool The ocean-view pool is kid-friendly, with a shallow entrance and waterslide; the garden pool is quieter, surrounded by tropical foliage. Sand The 20-acre property is situated on the southwest point of Poipu Beach, known for white sand, gentle surf and visiting monk seals. The beach stretches for a quarter mile and is a great place to explore at low tide. Eats On the premises, Shells Steak and Seafood Restaurant has the same sweeping panoramic view of Poipu Beach as the adjacent Naniwa Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar. Or dine poolside/beachside at the Oasis Bar & Grill. What else? Fitness center and on-site tennis courts (two lit for night play); Keiki Aloha Club (kids’ program, available daily); championship golf courses; stores, boutiques and eateries at the nearby Poipu Shopping Village. Wow! Rent a beach cabana (ask for #15, 16 or 17). It’s only $35 for the day, steps from the water, sheltered from the sun — the cheapest (and possibly most effective) form of therapy. Contact 866.716.8109, sheraton-Kauai.com

Hilton Kaua‘i Beach Resort The new $18 million renovated, rebranded Hilton Kaua‘i Beach Resort has come full circle, from its start in 1986 as a Hilton, on to an Outrigger and then a Radisson, and later the Kaua‘i Beach Hotel.

Rack Rates Starting rates for mountain view $179, oceanfront $249, one-bedroom ocean-view suite $575. Pool Four, including a sandy-bottom pool with a 75-foot flume and lava-tube waterslide. Sand The five-story oceanfront resort is on a three-mile stretch of the island’s eastern shore in an area called the Coconut Coast, with views to the north and south. Eats For dinner, try the open-air Naupaka Terrace, a plantation-style restaurant featuring steak and seafood; for sunset appetizers, Shutters Lounge is the place, with live entertainment as well as a light dinner menu. What else? Pamper yourself with a massage at the Alolani Spa and Fitness Center (ask for in-room or beachside, to match your mood), spinal detox treatments and Hawai‘ian salt body scrubs. Wow! Only three miles to the Huleia National Wildlife Refuge, habitat for four species of endangered birds, and the Huleia River, where Indiana Jones made his escape in the opening scenes of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Contact 800.445.8667, hiltonKauairesort.com

Outrigger Waipouli Beach Resort  This brand-new $200 million resort and spa is on the east side of Kaua‘i, between Kapa‘a and Wailua.

Rack Rates Starting at $269 for a one- or two-bedroom unit. Pool Heated saltwater “fantasy pool,” with a flowing river, garden, dual serpentine waterslides, sand-bottom children’s pool and three sand-bottom whirlpool tubs. Sand Just out the door, Waipouli’s white-sand beach is great for strolling, snorkeling and (for the more adventurous) kitesurfing. Eats Casual and high-end dining across the street at the Kaua‘i Village Shopping Center, Waipouli Town Center, and the Coconut Marketplace. With the Sub Zero refrigerators and Wolf convection ovens in the units, though, why not dine in? What else? Shopping, dining and a movie theater just down the street. Wailua Golf Course is nearby; for a bigger challenge, head 20 minutes up the road to Princeville Resort’s acclaimed Prince and Makai courses. Aveda Experience Center spa and salon offers a bevy of services, including poolside massage. Wow! This property is the Coconut Coast’s first new luxury-condo resort in nearly two decades. Contact 800.688.7444, outriggercondominiums.com




It’s impossible to write about Big Island news without mentioning the media scene-stealer Madame Pele, who constantly entertains visitors and locals with her fiery temper. In other showplace news, the Queens’ Marketplace and Cultural Gardens at the Waikoloa Beach Resort is near completion. The 28-acre entertaining complex will have restaurants as well as a 4,000-square-foot performance garden. Some other exciting building projects on the horizon: longtime favorite Kona Village on the Kohala Coast has changed hands again, this time snatched up by Michael Dell’s MSD Capital along with Rockpoint Group, which also jointly bought the neighboring 865-acre Hualalai Resort and Four Seasons Resort Hualalai last year. And new owners of the landmark King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel just announced a planned $25 million renovation of the 460-room oceanfront property. If their timing is right, completion could coincide with anticipated improvements to Kailua Village. Business owners and residents of this historical fishing town are lobbying for the same type of federal BID (Business Improvement District) money as Waikiki, and supporters are hopeful that some well-needed dollars will help restore Kailua to its former glory.

Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort and Spa Built in 1961, the Kona Surf welcomed visitors from around the world, who were curious about the newly inducted 50th state and the legendary sportfishing Kona has to offer. This year marks the end of a $40 million renovation of the now-renamed Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort and Spa.

Rack Rates Guest rooms start at $350, suites at $900. Pool A multilevel pool connected by a river system that leads to a waterfall and transitions to a 200-foot-long lava tube waterslide. A sandy-bottomed children’s pool area includes a large shallow-water beach area and is bordered by playful interactive fountains. Sand Nearest beach is Kahalu‘u Beach Park, about five minutes away. Eats On site: Casual meals at Kai with waterfront views, poolside dining at Manta Ray Bar and Grill. Catch the “green flash” at Crystal Blue, a favorite for cocktails, premium wine and pupus, or grab a cup of Kona coffee at the Keauhou Bay Coffee Co. What else? Take the complimentary shuttle to the beach park, Kailua-Kona or Kona Country Club, where the Ocean and Ali‘i Mountain golf courses were both designed by William Bell. Wow! Nightly (if nature agrees) manta ray show. These wild creatures are surprisingly dependable performers, dancing under the floodlight provided by the hotel. Contact 888.488.3535,

Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa Opened in 1981 as the Sheraton Royal Waikoloan, this property was only the third hotel to be built on the prized Kohala Coast. Nestled between a jet-black lava flow and the turquoise Anaeho‘omalu Bay, it has since welcomed visitors as both a Sheraton and an Outrigger property, known for great value and location. As of March 2007, a completed $54 million renovation has brought all-new guest rooms, an infinity pool and a Mandara Spa.

Rack Rates Guest rooms start at $425, suites at $1,130. Pool Two, including a new infinity pool with lava pots, sandy-bottom children’s pool, waterfalls, slide and three whirlpools. Sand Half-mile-long white sand beach fronting the property, with sailing, snorkeling and other beach activities; equipment available to rent. Eats Casual breakfast at the Kona Coffee Shoppe, lunch and dinner at Hawai‘i Calls Restaurant & Lounge, and a Royal Luau with dancing every night. Off site: King’s shopping center is right across the street, with options like Starbucks, Roy’s and Merriman’s Market Cafe. What else? Take a leisurely walk to explore ancient Hawaiian petroglyph fields and the ancient Hawaiian fishpond at the resort hotel. Enjoy 36 holes of champion golf at nearby Waikoloa Golf Club. On site, play tennis or table tennis, kayak or snorkel. Wow! The beachfront property has ocean-view cabana accommodations with spectacular views, especially during the humpback whale season. Contact 808.886.6789, marriott.com

Hilton Waikoloa Village Famous for its opulence when it was built in the mid-’80s, this 62-acre property is in the middle of a three-year $90 million renovation. With 1,240 suites to refurbish, they’ll need every penny.

Rack Rates Starting at $350 for guest rooms and $900 for suites. Pool Ocean Tower pool is for adults only; the Kohala River pool is three pools connected by waterslides; the Kona pool features a 176-foot twisting waterslide and waterfalls. Sand A sandy, four-acre lagoon is great for kids and adults. Kayaks and paddleboats available to rent. Eats Ten on-site dining locations, including Imari (authentic Japanese cuisine) and award-winning Donatoni’s Italian restaurant. Or get off the property and choose from nearby options at the King’s shopping center. What else? Voted Top Family Resort in Hawai‘i, in 2006 by Travel +Leisure Family Magazine children of all ages are sure to have fun. For adults (or kids), choose from two nearby championship golf courses or sign up for a daily tennis clinic (beginner to advanced) on one of the eight PlexiCushion tennis courts. Wow! Get cozy with the dolphins of Dolphin Quest, or stroll the mile-long museum corridor featuring $6 million worth of Asian and Pacific art. Take a Swiss-made air-conditioned mahogany-trim canal boat to your room, the pool, or restaurant of choice. Contact 800.445.8667,  hiltonwaikoloavillage.com





It’s hard to imagine that this verdant, pear-shaped, 13-by-18-mile island was nearly devastated by livestock grazing in the late 1800s. The island became so dry and dusty, Lana‘i ranch manager George Munro worried it would blow into the ocean. One day, listening to drops of rain fall on his tin roof, he surmised the 125-foot Norfolk pine next to his home trapped at least 100 gallons of water a day from the morning fog. He planted 10,000 similar pines—and saved the island from turning into a red dust bowl.

This is just one of the anecdotes from The Story of Lana‘i, a book published this year by Native Press containing Munro’s meticulous notes during his decades on Lana‘i. Besides that recent salute to a historical local figure, there’s not a lot of news coming from this island whose population ranges from 3,000 to 4,000 depending on the occupancy of the two luxury resorts–the Lodge at Ko‘ele, built in 1990, and Manele Bay, built in 1991. Since their constuction, these sister resorts have hosted wealthy travelers, hi-tech billionaires and Hollywood celebrities and have earned their reputation as a laid-back yet first-class destination.

Last year owners Castle & Cooke spent over $100 million to re-identify them with the Four Seasons brand. One other local news flash concerns the Sweetest Days ice cream shop recently opened in Lana‘i City: word says it’s worth a visit. You’ll find traditional favorite island flavors such as pineapple, guava and macadamia nut as well as chocolate-dipped frozen bananas.

The Four Seasons Lana‘i Manele Bay The oceanfront resort has settled nicely into its $50 million renovation and Four Seasons reincarnation. New offerings include 42-inch LCD flat-screen televisions, DVD/CD players, signature beds and linens, a new fitness and recreation center, a restaurant and a huge selection of pampering services.

Rack Rates Garden rooms start at $395, oceanfront $840, three-bedroom Ali‘i Suite $8,940. Pool Ocean-view pool is the central area of the resort, with panoramic vistas of the Pacific. Two whirlpools flank the pool; luxury services (e.g., Evian spritzing) are offered throughout the day. Sand The beach path leads to Hulopo‘e Bay, the resort’s golden-sand crescent beach, which includes a protected marine preserve. Eats Ihilani is an on-site Italian restaurant; Hulopo‘e Court serves Pacific Rim cuisine; Ocean Grill has Asian-influenced seafood. What else? Jack Nicklaus designed the Challenge at Manele, the resort’s ocean-side golf course. The resort’s tennis center offers lessons and games. Surfing, snorkeling, scuba, boating, kayaking, hiking and spa treatments are all available. Wow! Hulopo‘e Bay is home to Hawai‘i’s largest pod of playful spinner dolphins. Contact 800.321.4666, fourseasons.com/manelebay

Four Seasons Resort Lana‘i, The Lodge at Ko‘ele Situated on the upper slopes of Lana‘i, the lodge’s country ambience is unique in comparison to other Hawaiian island properties. Its multimillion dollar renovation and Four Seasons rebranding was completed earlier this year. All guest rooms are now outfitted with luxury furnishings, including new signature beds, 40-inch LCD flat-screen televisions and DVD/CD players.

Rack Rates Garden rooms start at $295, great hall fireplace room $595, great hall fireplace suite $1,400. Pool Swim in a tranquil setting with views of rolling hills. The Four Seasons pampering poolside services and two whirlpools are geared to quiet and relaxation. Sand A peaceful shuttle ride away at the Manele Bay. Eats The dining room offers local game (venison and quail) as well as classic favorites (butter-poached lobster and American Kobe beef). The Terrace is more casual: a contemporary American menu with Hawaiian influences. The Experience Clubhouse offers sandwiches, salads and, some say, the best burger in Hawai‘i. What else? Take mountain bikes on the Munro trail, a seven-mile loop including the highest point of the island at 3,370-feet. Or opt for the Greg Norman–designed golf course, sporting clays, hiking, tennis, croquet, lawn bowling, horseback riding. Wow! The lodge is home to a pagoda that was constructed in China, then deconstructed, shipped to Lana‘i and reconstructed on the grounds by Chinese builders along with local Lana‘i builders. A tropical garden in front of the lodge showcases Hawaiian staples: coffee, taro, pineapple, guava, papaya and more. Contact 800.321.4666,


Coined the “Friendly Isle,” Moloka‘i has recently seen some ripples of conflict: its chief developer, Moloka‘i Ranch, is busy trying to defend a plan to develop 500 acres of La‘au Point, a 10-mile stretch of pristine coast, into an upscale subdivision; refurbish the long-closed Kaluako‘i resort; and in the process give back more than 50,000 acres to the community. Sound fair?

According to a recent article in the Honolulu Star Bulletin, “it’s a move that can either be interpreted as a cease-fire in a 30-year-old war between Moloka‘i residents and the island’s primary developer, or as the starting shot of a development battle the likes of which have never been seen before.”

Practically speaking, developing Kaluako‘i resort will provide jobs and opportunities for local businesses. In 2001 Moloka‘i Ranch acquired this beachfront property, which was originally built in the ’60s. According to reports they plan on spending around $30 million to fund improvements for this classic resort.

In exchange for La‘au Point (which will cost upwards of $80 million to develop), Moloka‘i Ranch will return 50,000 acres of once privately held land to the community. They contend this action will help conserve the island’s culture and environment, as well as create at least 200 jobs with the development of the Kaluako‘i Hotel and adjacent golf course. Win-win?

While half the island’s residents have voted in favor of the project, opponents passionately argue that the development would cause desecration of what they believe to be sacred Hawaiian grounds.

To learn more about the island of Moloka‘i, its colorful and unique island culture, or the above political issue, visit Molokairanch.com, Molokaiproperties.com, Molokai.com or savelaau.com.