At the Lodge, peace and quiet ... and plenty to do

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LANAI CITY, Hawaii -- There's always something new on Lanai.

Cultural festivals, culinary events, visiting artists, an archery range next to a world-class sporting clays course and upgrades at the two high-end hotels -- the Lodge at Koele and Manele Bay -- are some examples.

But on a recent trip, my husband and I yearned for what the pineapple isle has in abundance: peace and quiet.

This is especially so at the 102-room Lodge at Koele near here, a small town that has altered little in decades.

Still, there were many choices of things to do -- on the grounds and off -- during this weekend visit. For example, there was a wine-tasting seminar in the Lodge's cozy library, complimentary to hotel guests; a multicourse dinner courtesy of a guest chef; and, a short walk from the Lodge, games, crafts, music and local food at the Aloha Festivals, part of a celebration of Hawaiian culture throughout the islands.

In addition, Lanai itself offers my favorite activities: trapshooting a few miles from the Lodge; mountain biking; snorkeling off a catamaran from Manele Harbor (transfer to Manele Bay is free); a hike in the hills to view ancient petroglyphs; a game of croquet on one of the hotel's three croquet lawns (two American, one British); or a free round of golf on the 18-hole putting course at the Lodge.

Instead of a hike, we opted for a run. We covered 10 miles on the Monroe trail next to the Lodge, and not a single person crossed our path. Our reward after a gradual climb was a spectacular view of red earth, verdant hills and ocean.

Next we hopped the complimentary, 30-minute shuttle to sister resort Manele Bay, a magnificent, 250-room, Mediterranean villa-style hotel overlooking the ocean.

Lodge guests have access to the facilities there, including signing privileges at its restaurants and lounges.

We checked out towels and snorkeling gear and plopped under an umbrella at Hulopoe Beach. Occasionally we found the energy to cool off in the bay, known for dolphin visits each morning.

Our busy schedule allowed us to arrive back at the Lodge in time for tea and scones. Settled into luxurious couches and chairs -- all cushy with giant pillows -- we had no desire to leave. For three hours we relaxed in the lobby, reading and watching hotel workers build a fire in the three-story-high stone fireplace, until it was time to change for dinner.

Both resorts are as well-known for their dining as they are for their championship golf courses.

The Lodge's intimate dining room, which requires that men wear a jacket, is famous for its venison and was in demand this particular weekend for the multicourse meal from guest chef Tim Goodell of Newport Beach's Aubergine.

While most visitors want to be close to the ocean, there's a reason why Honolulu residents favor the Lodge. Its 2,000-foot elevation means cooler temperatures and a view of horses roaming the pasture.

Rooms are spacious but cozy, with small alcoves with padded, chenille window seats made for reading or watching TV, pine dressers and Chinese porcelain tables.

Four-poster king-size beds (ours also had a Murphy bed hidden away) with pineapple detailing remind visitors that this island was populated with pure Hawaiians until workers were brought in to work the pineapple fields in the early 1900s.

Extra-long tubs with decorative ceramic tiles, pineapple bath salts and pineapple and cream soap, white towels and thick robes invite leisurely baths.

I've rarely had a weekend filled with so little activity pass so quickly.

Next time, we promised to do more than just lounge at the Lodge and enjoy the serenity. Then again, maybe not.

Rates for garden rooms at the Lodge at Koele and Manele Bay Hotel start at $375; a fireplace garden suite at the Lodge is $2,200; the presidential suite at Manele is $3,000 per night.

Commissionable packages include the Lanai Getaway, a two-night stay designed as an add-on to a Maui vacation, starting at $698 for two people; Play Through (golf), Family or the 4x4 Adventure Package, where guests choose one activity per day, per person over four days, starting at $1,996 for two people.

For more information, call (800) 321-4666 or visit www.islandoflanai.com.

To contact reporter Katherine Nichols, send e-mail to [email protected].

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