Lanai's owner wants to build new hotel

Billionaire Larry Ellison is planning to construct a bungalow-style resort

 UPDATED 9:56 AM HST Jan 26, 2013
Hotel plan
HONOLULU -

Billionaire Larry Ellison wants to build a new hotel on Lanai, the island he purchased last June.

Ellison's company representative revealed the idea at a meeting Thursday night.

KITV4 News has learned that the country's third-richest man has plans to construct Lanai's third luxury resort on the eastern tip of the island, at the old Club Lanai.

Those at the meeting say Ellison wants to give visitors to his island the chance to experience something different than the Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay and the Lodge at Koele.

"From a business point of view, they feel that they're going to need that third resort to give visitors choices," said Reynold "Butch" Gima, a Lanai community leader. He said Ellison's vision is for a small, bungalow-type hotel similar to the old Kona Village Resort and that the area has no infrastructure and only dirt roads.

"Until more details are vetted out, it's going to be tough to see whether it's going to be a good thing, or something that the community can live with, or whether it's going to be bad," Gima added.

What's not bad, Gima said, is the community's reaction to everything Ellison has done so far on Lanai, from remodeling homes and businesses to upgrading facilities.

Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa said, "I have not heard where he's doing anything that is anti what the community is asking."

"At the same time, there's a segment in the community saying you know, 'Hey, this is what Murdock did back in the '80s when he first bought Castle and Cooke.' So we have to see if this really pans out in the long run," said Gima.

Other plans in the long run for Ellison include a second runway at Lanai Airport, a desalination plant and increasing agriculture and solar energy production.

"It seems that he's putting together all the components that are necessary to really create a good, viable economic engine. In reality, this is probably the best thing that could have happened to Lanai," Arakawa said.

Lanai's state House Rep. Mele Carroll and the island's state Senator J. Kalani English say they found out about these plans in the news Friday.

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