Guest Author - Kara Williams
The tiny Hawaiian island of Lanai is just a 90-minute ferry ride from Maui, but it's worlds away from its developed, touristy neighbor. On Lanai, visitors find wide-open ranchland, limited paved roads and no traffic lights! Forget giant shopping centers, mega-attractions or big luaus -- activities here include hiking remote trails, snorkeling from quiet beaches and exploring off road. The downtown area is just six blocks long -- but lined with cute gift shops, art galleries, casual restaurants and clothing boutiques.
Visitors choose from three hotels on Lanai, two of which are luxurious Four Seasons properties, and the other is a wonderfully charming, plantation-style bed-and-breakfast. Here's a peek at potential honeymoon accommodations on Lanai:
Four Seasons Manele Bay
This oceanside resort is set on a cliff above Hulopoe Bay. The views of the ocean and the bay are stunning, and visible from the resort's golf course, guest rooms, restaurants and pool area. But it is a short walk down to the actual beach, where the hotel offers chaise lounges.
Accommodations include everything from "garden view room" to "prime ocean front suite." Each has a private lanai or balcony. An onsite spa, the Challenge at Manele championship golf course, fitness room and tennis courts are some of the other amenities offered to guests. While I only toured the property on my recent visit to Lanai (skip down to the more budget-minded Hotel Lanai to learn more about my specific accommodations!), I found the hotel grounds elegant and sophisticated, but with a definite tropical feel -- not too stuffy.
Four Seasons Lodge at Koele
Inland a few miles from the coast is the "upcountry" Lodge at Koele, also a Four Seasons property. This plantation-style resort is reminiscent of an elegant manor, with definite "taste of the Orient" bent, since its lobby is decorated with Asian antiques and a pagoda is featured prominently on the grounds.
In fact, even if you aren't staying at the Lodge at Koele, I recommend simply strolling the vast grounds -- paved paths wind from the pool area, to a greenhouse, alongside a mini-golf course (and adjacent to The Experience at Koele championship golf course), and over babbling brooks and past ancient banyan trees. Truly, simply spending a little time outdoors at the Lodge is a delightful way to take in the beauty of Lanai's cooler, misty upcountry (a nice break from the sunny beach).
While the Manele Bay property has a full-service spa, the Lodge offers massages in its small Banyan Spa Suite or in their rooms. The resort does have a fitness center, croquet and lawn bowling court, tennis courts and the aforementioned golf course. Riding stables and a clay-shooting facility are nearby.
Accommodations range from a "Garden Room" to the "Great Hall Fireplace Suite." Complimentary shuttles do run regularly from the Lodge to Manele Bay, so guests can enjoy upscale dining at either property; they also stop a block from downtown, for convenient access to more dining and shopping.
For a totally different animal (and at least half the price of a room at either of the Four Seasons resorts), consider the Hotel Lanai, located in a 1923, plantation-style property that used to house visiting Dole pineapple executives back in the day.
With just 11 rooms, this bed-and-breakfast is intimate, and the rooms are decidedly cozy -- expect tiny bathrooms and no TVs. But each of the rooms, some with lanais, feature queen beds with Hawaiian quilts and paintings by local artists on the walls. Breakfast is included in the room rate, and includes pastries, muffins, bagels, fresh fruit, juice and coffee.
At the end of my too-short, two-night stay at the Hotel Lanai, I truly felt like family. The women working the front desk were incredibly friendly, accommodating and helpful. I recommend eating at least one dinner at the on-site Lanai City Grille, with a menu featuring seafood, steaks and chicken dishes. Enjoy live music (typically every Friday night) out back, or sit at the bar and strike up a conversation with the amiable bartender and loquacious locals!