Molokai Ranch Breaks Ground on Lodge

MAUNA LOA, Hawaii -- Molokai Ranch broke ground on a 22-room lodge at Molokai's Mauna Loa town, headquarters of its ranch and recreation operations.

The two-story Molokai Ranch Lodge, costing more than $11 million, is expected to open next summer. It will include a dining room, a game room, a lounge, a swimming pool, a greenhouse and herb garden and wrap-around verandas. Guest rooms and public areas will feature ranch memorabilia and artwork by local artists. The six-acre lodge site fronts the town's main street and is near the ranch's buildings, which include its check-in and reception center for campground guests and headquarters for equestrian activities.

molokai ranchJim Mozley, Molokai Ranch president, said the lodge will reflect Maunaloa's Hawaiian plantation-style architecture. "Molokai Ranch is dedicated to preserving Molokai's natural environment and cultural heritage while providing quality lodging and recreation," he said.

Plans for the lodge, which will have ocean views, were scaled down from the original proposal of 60 rooms, although there remains room for expansion. Rates are expected to average $175 a night.

For Hawaii, it will be the first hotel built since the Four Seasons Hualalai opened on the Big Island in September 1996.

For the 54,000-acre ranch, which covers the western half of Molokai and has 26 miles of coast, it is one more step in diversifying into tourism. It recently opened its third luxury campground, Kaupoa Beach Camp, with 40 two-bedroom tent units. Its first, Paniolo Camp, opened early last year; its second, Kolo Cliffs Camp, opened last September.

Rates, including three meals a day and such activities as hiking, kayaking, mountain biking and horseback trail riding, start at $185 per person, per night, at Paniolo Camp. A fifth night free is offered with four paid nights.

Molokai Ranch. Phone: (877) PANIOLO

A Boost for Mauna Loa

Molokai Ranch Lodge is the latest project by Molokai Ranch in redeveloping the old plantation town of Mauna Loa. Mauna Loa was the hub of a thriving pineapple plantation from the 1930s to the early '70s. Dole Pineapple pulled out after losing money, the leased lands reverting to owner Molokai Ranch. In early 1995, with the town in decay, the bulldozers moved in as the firm began implementing its master plan, which includes subdivisions on the outskirts. Around half the buildings and homes were saved and restored, and the rest were rebuilt in the same low-rise, wooden plantation style.

Opened last fall on the town's main street were Molokai's first fast-food outlet (a ranch-operated KFC), its first cinema and the Mauna Loa Cultural Park. The 330-seat triplex movie theater is on the site where a cinema closed 25 years ago (Molokai, once boasting four moviehouses, was without one for more than a decade). The cultural park, with an amphitheater, opened as part of the town's 75th anniversary celebration. In recent months, openings have included office buildings, a new and larger gas station and grocery store and a restaurant, the Village Grill.

Several familiar sites remain. The town's doll shop continues to operate. Farther uphill is the Big Wind Kite Factory, long a landmark and tourist attraction. Here, visitors can buy kites and learn to fly them. Jonathan Socher and family, who opened the kite shop in 1980, also own the adjacent art gallery.

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