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Lana`i: Where to Stay, Part 1

And finally I arrived on Lana`i by boat. You'll probably recall that Lana`i used to be a pineapple plantation — thus the island's nickname, "The Pineapple Isle". Alas the plantation has been shut down but Dole, now merged with Castle & Cooke, felt an obligation to the displaced plantation workers. So they built two luxury resorts and retrained workers for tourism.

Those of us with modest means have difficulty affording the luxury resorts — however, there is a more reasonably priced alternative, Hotel Lana`i. And that's where I stay when I visit Lana`i. I especially like the front rooms because they have a lanai (porch) where you can sit and read or just watch the world go by.

Hotel Lana`i was built in 1923, by James Dole as lodging for Dole Plantation executives and was the first and only hotel on Lanai until 1990. I tend to compare it to cabins that one finds in our national parks — comfortable but definitely not luxurious.

The other key tip to keep in mind is that the restaurant at Hotel Lana`i is probably the best on the island — yes, better than those in the two luxury hotels.

One of the luxury resorts, the Lodge at Koele, is located in Lana`i City — "in town" as the locals say. It is walking distance from the Hotel Lana`i, which is pretty much in the center of town. Bus service provides transportation among the hotels, including to Manele Bay, where the beach is located.

The front of Koele features a huge mural of a pineapple and greenery — obviously a tribute to the featured crop that plays such an important role in the island's history.

It surprises most people that Lana`i City has a much milder climate than one would expect in Hawai`i. The town and the Lodge are often enshrouded in mists. In fact, it can get quite cold even when oceanside temperatures are in the eighties. In fact, in this photo, you can even see the morning mists surrounding the hotel.

Another surprise is the interior design of the hotel which, to me, it resembles a northern hunting lodge. This photo shows part of the great room — notice the huge fireplace — its mate is at the other end of this huge room. Since I was on Lana`i in late November, the hotel was decorated for the Christmas holidays. Usually, it feels odd to me to see traditional Christmas decorations in Hawai`i — but here, it fits well.

The Lodge at Koele sits on a huge property. Here is the chapel which is used both for religious services but also for weddings.

Of course, there is extensive landscaping — I was intrigued by this hibiscus which has more parts than I am used to.

Pineapples are used extensively as part of the decor. Here a small fountain, but also the bed posts in the guest rooms, wrought iron railings and on and on.

And art is everywhere. Here is a little statue. A friendly little guy, don't you think?

There are hundreds of koi swimming in the lake behind the hotel. As I approached, they all started circling — I assume it was near feeding time.

There are also wild turkeys roaming the grounds. They seem to be breathing a bit easier now that Thanksgiving had passed.

Further back is a conservatory — filled with orchids, orchids and more orchids.

Curiously, I found cattle lying in the grass. Cattle carved in stone but still cattle. Perhaps they are considered art — alternatively perhaps a tribute to even older times prior to pineapple when the island was a cattle ranch.

I love this pagoda sitting beside the lake with flowering trees and bougainvillea in abundance. Also an exquisite site for weddings or at least for wedding photos.

A stream flows across the property with water cascading down the rocks toward the lake. Benches here offer the guest a respite from the hassles of the daily rat race to which most of us are subjected.

Water lilies complete the quiet, tranquil setting.

Looking back at the Lodge at Koele, you just don't want to return to civilization.

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc.