The sixth largest island in Hawaii, Lanai, has been sold to the founder and CEO of tech giant Oracle, Larry Ellison. In a deal reputed to be worth $600 million, Ellison now owns 98% of the island just off the coast of Maui. Lanai was once a thriving pineapple plantation owned by Dole and then Castle & Cook. There is a small hotel in Lanai town and there are two Four Seasons. In 1994, Ellison’s long-time rival, Bill Gates, bought all of the rooms on Lanai and got married at the Manele Bay Property. Now, if Mr. and Mrs. Gates wish to renew their vows, they may have to ask Mr. Ellison;s kind indulgence.
In 1995, we interviewed senior staff at Manele Bay about the Gate’s wedding arrangements. When the hotel contacted Mr. Gates to say that a number of rooms had been booked and deposited during his proposed honeymoon, Mr. Gates said that “that’s not really a problem. Just tell them they can fly anywhere in the world in First Class and I’ll take care of the bill.”
There have been no announcements regarding the brash Mr. Ellison’s plans for future development. But it would seem unlikely that he would do anything to stem the slow but steady stream of honeymooners and upscale tourists who use the island’s two five-star properties.
Lanai is known for its superior golf courses and laid back lifestyle. There is no doctor on the island but Maui is just a twenty minute boat ride away.