An Economic Boost for Lanai

Honolulu Star - Advertiser, January 29, 2013 | Go to article overview

An Economic Boost for Lanai


Billionaire Larry Ellison has called Lanai his "little laboratory" but it is looking more like a new era of sustainable growth for its residents and the island's role in Hawaii's tourism market. Skeptics have reason to accept Lanai's new owner as committed to enthusiastic business changes and significant improvements of health care and other aspects of living there.

Ellison, the co-founder and chief executive of software giant Oracle Corp. with a net worth of $41 billion, can well afford the advancement. Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa calls the plans - outlined in resident meetings last week - "probably the best thing that could have happened to the island," while he said previous owner David Murdock "was allowing it to deteriorate."

Ironically, it was billionaire Murdock, who acquired the island from Castle & Cooke in 1985, who built the two luxury Four Seasons resorts, with top-rated golf courses, which will continue to be the tourism magnet. But it's Ellison who is now investing the vision and money needed: He already has completed renovations that included new furniture and a new restaurant and lounge design at the two resorts, Manele Bay and The Lodge at Koele.

Ellison plans to expand the Manele Bay hotel and add what has been described as an oceanfront bungalow-style hotel, to be called Kahea Village, replacing a deteriorated shoreside facility. Included will be adding a second airport runway for larger plans and, according to sources, purchasing of the Island Air interisland airline. That, of course, would be a brilliant package.

According to recent meetings on the island arranged by Ellison's company, Lanai Resorts LLC, the plans include more photovoltaic energy and a desalinization plant that could supply the entire island with fresh water, and free electric-car charging stations. …

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