As the smallest and least populated of Hawaii’s major islands, Lanai has existed a bit in the shadow of its island neighbors from a tourism perspective, but Larry Ellison’s billions may soon be changing that.
After buying the island earlier this year, the Oracle CEO has begun implementing his grand plan to transform the island. You can read all about Ellison’s vision at www.lovelanai.com.
You’ll be reading more about this in future posts, but for the moment, I just wanted to give you a visual sample of this island paradise. I spent four days at the coastal Four Seasons Resort and played two rounds on its resort course at Manele Bay, the course formerly known as The Challenge. In keeping with a rebranding effort for the entire island, the course will now be known as Lanai Golf Manele.
The course is a breathtaking visual experience and a joy to play. This Jack Nicklaus design offers ocean views from every hole and features three holes directly on the ocean. Different from Kapalua, Manele is an island golf treat all its own.
The following is overview of the resort and golf experience as well as other amenities of this island paradise.
The course is a great 18-hole test but the back nine gets most of the attention because of its proximity to the ocean. The layout is terraced in a way that allows for such awesome views as this of two greens within a short-iron shot of the ocean. Lanai’s dramatic rocky coastline makes for some mesmerizing views.
See what I mean? This is the view after you play the signature 12th, which I wrote about in my previous post but …
… we’ll show it again, because can you really get tired of looking at this hole? The 12th and par-4 17th, which begins with another carry off the tee, are the co-signature holes. Both are beautiful and score-able, just as you’d want from a vacation resort course. The real challenge at Manele, like The Crossings in Carlsbad, are the carries off the tee. If you can’t drive it 120-150, it’s going to be a long day. This is NOT a course for beginners.
Not matter the state of your game or your handicap, you’re guaranteed at least these birdies. The island is rife with wild turkeys.
I could easily fill this post with beautiful golf course pics, but we’ll conclude with this – the view from the 18th green. This hole is a score-able par 4 that ends with a view of hole’s infinity green and a look at the island’s signature rock – Sweetheart Rock – in the bay. The greens in particular at Manele are framed extremely well.
And here’s the all-important view from the 19th hole, the patio at Views sports bar. True to its name, the views at views don’t disappoint – include a green look back at the 18th green – and neither do the fish tacos.
Enough cameos. Here’s the close up of Sweetheart Rock. It’s visible from much of the resort and course and is a short hike from the beach. It’s a stellar place to watch the sunrise.
The rock is also the star of the coolest iPhone cover I’ve seen. This belongs to Menele Bay Head Pro Scott Ashworth.
Sunset is a bit obscured at the resort, so we recommend sunrise, although I was able to nab a couple nice ones at twilight.
After sunset, you retire to a resort that features a real knack for décor detail.
And if you’re in one of the updated suites, you’re greeted by a room with all the latest technological bells and whistles. I’ll just say this: I so quickly became spoiled that it seemed like work to turn on a light with a switch when I returned home. There was even a smart toilet with a motion sensor that lifted the lid when you entered the room.
The bells and whistles weren’t limited to the rooms, however. We were served digital menus at Kailani, one of the four resort restaurants.
Speaking of tech, this may be your room key of the future. It’s a water-proof rubberized bane implanted with a chip that allows you into your room with a swipe.
After golf, this sweet treat greeted me in my room thanking me for my stay and play. Can you believe I three-putted this?!?