Although Lanai is one of Hawaii's most romantic islands, the destination is still commonly overlooked by couples considering a trip to the Aloha State for a wedding ceremony or honeymoon.
As Hawaii's smallest visitor-friendly island, home to about 3,000 residents and just 140 square miles in size, Lanai certainly doesn't enjoy the renown of its larger neighbors, and the resulting information gap means couples often don't know what they're missing. Meanwhile, misconceptions about accommodation options can lead travelers to think Lanai is only for the affluent.
Well-informed travel agents can turn that confusion into opportunity by making sure wedding couples and honeymooners are aware of the tremendous diversity travelers can enjoy on Lanai, including secluded white-sand beaches, some of the best snorkeling in the state and terrific hiking options. Agents should also let clients know that they don't need to pay for a room at the Four Seasons to stay on the island.
Built in the 1920s as lodging for Dole pineapple plantation executives, the 11-room Hotel Lanai reopened after an extensive refurbishment in 2010, offering travelers the charm of a historical inn with an authentic Hawaiian plantation feel, complimentary WiFi and daily continental breakfast at room rates starting around $150 a night, in the center of Lanai City.
The Hotel Lanai can also be rented out entirely for wedding parties and features one higher-end cottage guestroom, located away from the rest of the hotel, which is an attractive option for honeymooners or couples planning to tie the knot. The property also features one of the island's top restaurants, Lanai City Grille, and facilities for wedding receptions and parties.
Agents arranging accommodations for Lanai weddings might also consider booking the bride and groom in higher-end products at either the oceanfront Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay, which is perfect for couples keen on relaxing at the beach and poolside, or the upcountry Four Seasons Resort, the Lodge at Koele, while putting wedding guests on tighter budgets at the Hotel Lanai.
The two Four Seasons properties offer a terrific range of ceremony and reception venues, providing couples a great deal to choose from.
"We can do anything upcountry at Koele from a traditional lodge wedding to utilizing the Chinese pagoda outdoors, or we can do something at the stables or even under the great banyan trees," said Hector Rubio, the director of catering for the Four Seasons Resorts Lanai. "Or we can do both the wedding ceremony and dinner-dance at one of the [oceanfront] tee boxes on the Challenge at Manele Golf Course, which are just stunning because of the views of the Pacific and Hulopoe Bay."
Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates rented out every room on the island before getting married nearly 20 years ago on the course's photogenic 12th hole, which overlooks the ocean from a sheer line of cliffs. According to Rubio, the location has been a popular site for weddings ever since.
"We actually had one bride arrive in a helicopter over the water, coming from the horizon, for a ceremony held there," he said. "She was with her father in the helicopter, approaching the golf course while everybody was seated and waiting for her arrival, expecting she'd just drive up."
Not surprisingly, booking as early as possible at either of the island's two Four Season properties is always a good idea.
"We're very different from most other resorts in the state in that we'll only book one wedding per day [at] the Lodge at Koele and only one at Manele Bay, regardless of the size," explained Allison McDaniel, the weddings sales manager for the Four Seasons Resorts Lanai. "It could be two people or 200 people, [but] that one bride is going to have our undivided attention."
For more about Lanai weddings and honeymoons, visit www.gohawaii.com/lanai/experiences