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Trip Report, Island of Lana'i

  • Submitted by: Hal Jespersen
  • Website: None Available
  • Submission Date: 04th Feb 2005

This report covers my impressions of a vacation 21-28 Jan 93 on the Hawaiian island of Lana`i.

Lana`i was once almost entirely pineapple plantations, but is now home to two posh resorts. The Manele Bay Hotel [MBH] and the Lodge at Koele [LAK] are RockResorts, managed by the folks who who do Caneel Bay, Little Dix Bay, etc. The entire island economy and population are being converted over to support these two resorts and there are only a few pineapples left.

We flew from SFO through Honolulu because there are no mainland flights to the Lana`i airport. There was a 3.5 hour layover, an experience shared by most of the vistors we spoke to. The return flights had a 2.5 hour wait. I think this is a conspiracy between airlines and the gift shop owners in Hinolulu. :-)

The MBH is a beautiful resort of ~250 rooms overlooking Hulopo`e Bay. (Manele Bay itself is around a point and is a small boat harbor, but is an easier name to spell, apparently.) Our room was booked as the cheapest variety--a "Garden View"--but they silently upgraded us to an Ocean View because the hotel seemed much less than full. The rooms were quite luxurious, with very nice fixtures and decorations and a very large modern bathroom. There are five large gardens in and around the guest rooms, each with a different style/geography of tropical flora, all with waterfalls and koi ponds. This easily one of the nicest hotels I have ever stayed in.

The beach is about 400 meters away on a gravel path. I would rate it as moderately good. The usable, nonrocky part is rather narrow, but we never felt crowded. Hotels guests get free use of beach chairs, umbrellas, snorkeling equipment, and boogie boards. There was no surfing evident and the surf was very modest. The snorkeling was also moderate. [I greatly prefer Caribbean snorkeling to Hawaiian, although I have been to only a few places in each.] Schools of dolphins came into the bay most days, playing around about 500 meters out. We also saw whales spouting and breaching about 1000 meters out and farther.

The pool was very comfortable, but shallow. It's more of a sunbathing and eating/drinking place than for swimming, but the heated water was great and there were two very hot hot tubs.

The staff was efficient, friendly, but nonintrusive. My only complaint is this area was that they rarely gave you enough details about any activity; you ALWAYS had to see a Concierge to accomplish anything.

There are lots of activities, but we used very few and concentrated on beaching. There are two categories--freebies like walking tours and lei making classes, and very expensive ones like:

snorkeling boat trip [$75/pp for 2.5 hours]
whale watching boat trip [$55/pp for 2.5 hours]
golfing at LAK [never checked the price]
4-wheel drive rental to see island [$99/day]
ferry to Lahaina, Maui for shopping [$50/pp]
scuba classes [never checked the price]
tennis lessons [never checked the price]
There's a shuttle bus to the LAK at the center of the island, near Lana`i "City." The City of 3,000 hotel workers has nothing interesting to recommend in it. (It does have the third hotel on the island--all ten rooms of it.) The LAK is simply beautiful--fabulous landscaping, great decorating. About 100 rooms. The common rooms look like the Ahwanee Hotel in Yosemite probably would have if it were designed today on a big budget. Golfing is the big pasttime here and they supposedly have an excellent course. There's also croquet, lawn bowling, and "executive putting," which is like a very large miniature golf without the windmills; all these are freebies.

The food at both hotels was EXCELLENT. Each has two restaurants--one casual with three meals and one "formal" for dinner only where they want the men to wear jackets. We had a package deal where dinner and breakfast were included and I highly recommend such an arrangement because the menu prices are astronomical. Our breakfasts for two averaged $60 and dinners with the house wine [Raymond Cabernet or Chardonnay] from $150 to $250. Our lunches at the pool each day were about $30. We ate most often at the MBH Ihilani formal dining room, but the Main Dining Room [great name] at the LAK was excellent, too.

Both hotels had small gift shops filled with very expensive goods. Plan ahead if you go to Lana`i because you are really a captive of these two resorts. It is rather inconvenient to make other arrangements for food or shopping.

But all in all, we had a great, luxurious, relaxing time. The weather was great every day [although the staff told us the first 3 weeks of January had been cold and rainy]. It was almost like a stationary cruise in terms of amenities, food, activities, and prices. A great place to relax and tan.

Hal Jespersen
POSIX Software Group
447 Lakeview Way
Redwood City, CA 94062
+1 (415) 364-3410
+1 (415) 364-4498 FAX


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