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Billionaire and Oracle Corp. CEO Larry Ellison now owns every hotel room on Lanai, having closed July 7 on the purchase of the venerable Hotel Lanai.
The price paid by Ellison’s Lanai Resorts LLC was undisclosed by seller Lanai Hospitality Partners LLC principal Mary Charles.
“We owned it for seven years, and we did really well with it,” she told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “We turned it into a great spot, it was loved by visitors and locals, and so we leave it with a great legacy and in good hands.”
The 10-room hotel was originally built in 1923 by James Dole of pineapple fame, as a retreat for Dole Pineapple executives. For generations it was the only hotel on the island until Castle & Cooke opened the Lodge at Koele in 1990 and the Manele Bay Hotel in 1991. The resorts have borne the Four Seasons Resort Lanai brand since 2006.
Ellison bought 97 percent of Lanai in June 2012, including the two Four Seasons resorts. He is planning to build another upscale resort on the island.
Hotel Lanai, the only other hotel on the island, sits atop a hill overlooking Lanai City.
Charles, her husband, Tom Kiely, and her nephew Michael Charles bought the hotel in 2007, closed it for about a month for refreshing and then reopened the property with Michael Charles and his girlfriend, Michelle Kommes, in leadership positions.
The trio had quietly approached Ellison’s Lanai Resorts late last year to see if the company was interested in acquiring the property, “but at that time they were not,” Charles said.
Charles’ company listed the property with Maui Realtor Chris Millen, “and there was some interest, and we were about to actually sell to a Maui entity, and then Lanai Resort group reconsidered” and said they wanted to buy it, she said.
After reviewing the two offers, “we decided it would probably be best in their hands.”
Employees, including chef Ella Juliano, who runs the hotel’s Lanai City Grille restaurant, are staying on with Lanai Resorts, and Charles’ company “is still there, helping in the transition,” she said.
The island of Lanai does have additional short-term rentals available for vacations, known in the business as “resort residential,” said Joseph Toy, president of consulting firm Hospitality Advisors LLC.
“When Castle & Cooke developed the two resorts, they also were developing resort residential (properties) including single family homes, townhomes” and the like, he said. “There are a few units in Lanai available for short-term rental,” but as for hotel rooms, Ellison now owns them all, Toy confirmed.
“It’s a fun little hotel … a charming place,”Toy said, “and it’s also the shuttle pickup point” to transport guests from Lanai City to the Four Seasons Resort Lanai Lodge at Koele.