Just 13 miles wide and 18 miles long, now under new ownership by Larry Ellison's company Pulama Lanai, the private island of Lanai has a seaside Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay with a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, while the Four Seasons Resort Lanai, the Lodge at Koele lies in the misty uplands, with a Greg Norman-designed course.
Manele Bay has a new clubhouse restaurant, VIEWS, featuring a contemporary interior design inspired by early Hawaiian artisans, and spectacular ocean views. The Challenge at Manele golf course rides tilting volcanic hillsides and rocky plateaus above Hulopo’e Bay, where whales and spinner dolphins are often sighted. Every hole enjoys wide ocean views and ocean breezes––the reason why the flags are wind socks. Zillionaire Bill Gates was married on the 12th hole, a notorious 202-yard gut-wrencher requiring a 200-yard carry across a yawning gap that drops 150 feet to the roiling water below (pray for wind at your back).
At 1,600 feet in elevation, Greg Norman laid out The Experience at Koele to meander beneath towering pines and banyan trees with panoramas of velvet mountains and distant sea views. From the 17th tee, drives drop nearly 250 feet to a patch of turf at the bottom of an emerald gorge. Closed for renovation, the Koele course will reopen in December 2014 following a redesign by Jack Nicklaus. Course enhancements will include new turf throughout, new sand in the bunkers, new irrigation, and improved routing for the track.
The new owner of (98% of) the island has improvements in mind, from powering the island by solar energy with electric cars replacing gas-powered vehicles; desalinization of water, a new organic farming industry to feed residents and supply produce for export, plus tree planting, a proposed new beach resort, and restoration and beautification of the island and Lanai City.
Founder/editor of BestGolfResortsofTheWorld.com, Karen Misuraca is a travel and golf writer from the California Wine Country. She blogs golf travel and writes about Deep Culture Travel. Check out Karen's new iPhone app, California Coast North