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By now, we're all up to date on the situation regarding Lanai and new-ish owner Larry Ellison. He has a plan, but no one is exactly sure what it is or how it will play out. While that's generally accurate, there are a few truths that have come to light since Ellison started pouring money into the island. We discovered one earlier this week during a visit to the Hotel Lanai: You won't be able to get a room here for the next year.
As the big plan continues to take shape, Ellison has begun work on a number of specific projects, including rebuilding community infrastructure and partially renovating the Four Seasons Manele Bay, one of the two Four Seasons properties on the island (there are three properties total on the island, the two Four Seasons and the Hotel Lanai). As you might imagine, these changes require a lot of construction, and many workers are being brought in from off the island. Due to the shortage of housing that already exists on Lanai, going forward, workers are being housed at the Hotel Lanai.
While visiting Maui in May, we often looked across the beach from Wailea where we were staying, over towards the island of Lana'i.
One time, while staring at Lana'i, a passerby told us, "Do you know who bought that island? Larry Ellison of Oracle." Wow, we thought. That's how rich he is. He can buy an island in Hawaii. An island that contains two Four Seasons Resorts. Turns out it's not that simple.
Technically, Ellison owns 97 percent of the island, not the whole thing but as the New York Times pointed out, that's still a lot. The cost to buy the island in 2012 was $300 million and Ellison, who stepped down as CEO of the Silicon Valley company last year, wants to turn the Lana'i into the "first economically viable, 100 percent green community." Ellison, under the guise of his management company, Pulama Lanai, expressed interest earlier in the year to build a fourth resort (Ellison also bought the Hotel Lanai, the other resort on the island) and hoped to extend the island's airport, along with other modern modifications to the island.
However, not all the plans that Ellison has for the island are working out, like the extended airport and the desalination plant. Also, a renovation of the Four Seasons Manele Bay was apparently downsized. Not that it has mattered to guests. The TripAdvisor reviews are still off the charts. The hotel did renovate all of its rooms and they do look rather incredible on the website. Here's how the general manager explained the renovations to the NY Times:
Up on the Daily Mail's site last week was a story about a Saudi prince who reportedly booked up all three of the Anantara Resorts in the Maldives from now through the middle of March, effectively kicking out any other guests who had reservations during the same time as his stay.
The story originated on MaldivesFinest.com and was moved along by a TripAdvisor review from a guest whose reservation was cancelled because of the resort buy-out.
The rejected guest wrote on TripAdvisor:
Our reservation was cancelled with NO notice and we were informed only AFTER we contacted them. Back in December we booked the Anantara Veli in an overwater pool villa for a four night stay in early March. Three weeks prior to our departure we emailed the Anantara Veli to confirm our airport pick up and a few other details.
As a result of our email to Anantara and a call to our booking agent we finally learned that the hotel had simply cancelled our reservation and, I assume, those of many others. They did this without apprising us of this cancellation.
Here's what Anantara finally told us: In essence they said they now have a booking for the period including 19 February until March 15 which, after negotiations, developed into a request for total private island buyout of Anantara Veli and Naladhu. Not "I'm sorry", not "we should have notified you", not "how can we make it up to you". Just "this is now the situation".
Apparently, the guest was offered accommodations at a different resort but he turned them down.
It's that time of year again: the 2013 HotelChatter Awards! Today and tomorrow, we'll be showcasing the best (and worst) of hotels over the past year. But we couldn't do it without you! Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, or shoot us an email. And the Award goes to...
2013 was kind of strange year. There was some good, quite a bit of bad, and a lot of just plain weird stuff happening (globally and personally.) Which is why when we were flipping through the year's Killer Views, we found ourselves drawn to the views that were far, far, away. Like this one and this one.
You can read Jetflyboy's full report on Tokoriki Island Resort here or you can just drool over more of his photos from the resort below. Say it all together now, "We want to go to there."
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There's a new show on TV. It's called The Vineyard, on ABC Family, and it's a bit like if The Hills moved to an island off the east coast; to Martha's Vineyard, to be exact. Don't watch the show unless you enjoy following the drama of Blake Lively lookalikes with junior high problems, but the show is at least good for its scenery. The camera seems especially infatuated with the Edgartown Harbor Lighthouse and the sprawling Cape Cod cottage behind. That, dear readers, is no cottage but the largest hotel on Martha's Vineyard, the Harbor View Hotel which boasts its own collection of cottages and one of the only large, heated outdoor swimming pools on the island.
Originally opened in 1891, the Harbor View and its famous expansive front porch has had plenty of time to become a summer tradition for families. Of course if you're not the Obamas, the Clintons or one of the many millionaire or billionaire estate owners on Martha's Vineyard, the Harbor View is the affordable way to enjoy a large property complete with a daily list of activities and amenities (s'mores! veranda yoga! harbor cruises!).
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The island of Martha's Vineyard certainly has a reputation. One, it's known as a playground of the rich and preppy. Two, MV is a favorite vacation destination for presidents, specifically Clinton and Obama (and, in the past, the Kennedys). Because of this reputation combined with the history of the island, it's believed that the island doesn't offer much in the way of affordably luxurious, amenity-rich accommodations. Not true! The Mansion House is proof that the island has more than tiny B&Bs with giant price tags.
Mansion House is at the center of the town of Vineyard Haven, which boasts most of the year-round population on the island. This means there's plenty shopping, dining and sights within easy walking and biking distance. We recommend a stroll down to nosh on lobster rolls and clams at The Net Result, and a visit to Bunch of Grapes Bookstore, where President Obama shops with Sasha and Malia.
Since the Mansion House offers year-round accommodation in 48 rooms, rates vary greatly, usually from $99 to $309 as a start.
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A 45 minute flight from Singapore or Kuala Lumpur, Tioman Island is considered one of Malaysia's most beautiful islands. It is mostly covered by dense forest, with a range of different types of resorts dotted along the coast. By far the most charming of these is Bagus Place Resort, a sustainably-built eco-resort with seven private "chalets," or small villas.
Pictured above is Bagus Place's private jetty. At 162 paces from end to end (we counted), it's the longest on the island.
Click below for more photos!
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Go with us as we escape on a private island about 75 miles off the coast of mainland Fiji that will make the shoulders of even the highest strung relax just a bit. We're talking about Tokoriki Island Resort in the outer surroundings of the Mamanuca Islands--where it takes a 90 minute catamaran ride and fishing boat transfer to reach. This boutique resort is the quintessential definition of Fiji-time because there is little to worry about since the only thing you might be late for is snorkeling.
One very important feature of Tokoriki is the staff. Arriving on the island to a hearty BULA!, wooden bead lei and a traditional island song made us feel like we had truly arrived somewhere special. Bordering a personal concierge, we were escorted to our hut and shown around the grounds. Mysteriously, it made us feel familiar, as if we had been here before; that's what Fiji does!
Sit back, relax and soak it all in. This killer view comes to you via the mega-tropical destination of Fiji. A grouping of 333 islands that has an abundance of views like the one above at Tokoriki Island Resort and even more warmth from its people.
We hopped on a fast catamaran at the port of Denarau in Nadi, the capital and headed off the mainland to the Mamanuca Island group just about 70 miles off the coast of the island's second largest city. After 90 minutes of passing coral strips like Beachcomber and South Sea Island, we finally made it to our volcanic paradise and, instantly, our stress levels were carried off with the tradewinds.
We tendered via a little fishing boat and stepped foot on the island after wading through ankle deep sea water. Warmly welcomed with a wooden lei by staff dressed in Masi shirts and sulu skirts, we had a feeling we could get used to this. And we did. It was easy to get settled in and soak up the tropical surroundings and private beach before exploring.
Stay tuned for the full review, with heaps of photos. You won't be disappointed. For now, just imagine this is just outside your window.
Disclaimer:We are traveling as guests of Air Pacific and Tourism Fiji, but rest assured all of our opinions and photos are our own.
[Photo: Rayme Gorniak for HotelChatter]
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For travelers who seek to scratch the Caribbean island of St. Maarten off their bucket list, and see the planes flying over the beach for which the island is most famous, there's only one hotel option. This is the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort & Casino, an all-inclusive property with the distinction of being the only large hotel within walking distance of Maho Beach; the other buildings around all all time-shares or private condos.
The Sonesta towers over the small town of Maho, and the 537-room property is one of the first things visitors see as their plane touches down to the tarmac at SXM, St. Maarten's Airport which sits just off of Maho. As it's all-inclusive, nightly rates during winter peak season aren't cheap ($450 is average), but having everything taken care of and being on Maho Beach is a huge perk to justify the rate. If you're just on St. Maarten for the excellent plane spotting, you wouldn't even need to rent a car; just take a taxi to the hotel and all necessities are within walking distance.
After a weekend of snow and cold, you might be looking for your escape to warmer temps and relaxing atmosphere. Imagine trading your snow shovel for a snorkel and boots for a bikini (or board shorts) and head to a private island off the coast of Cambodia. The ultra-luxury Song Saa Resort has your cure for not only winter doldrums, but year round stress.
Cambodia's first private island luxury resort will be setting the tone for resorts to come with their private villas perched over a marine reserve. Technically, it isn't a private island since it spans over 2 separate islands that are connected by a foot bridge, but it most definitely is private and luxurious.
Each of the 27 villas are inspired by Cambodian fishing villages, and the resort features beach-side, rainforest and over-water buildings. Unique in their own way, every one boasts thatch roofs, rough-hewn natural timbers and driftwood furnishings. Imagine waking to the gentle sound of the sea directly below your bed and soaking up the 360-degree views of the Gulf of Thailand. Yeah, this is paradise.
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Well, now the world is saved! Okay, we’re being facetious, of course: It’s a noble thing to take a stand and do some good for the planet and, after all, we all need to do our part.
But we do have to ask: Just how much bottled water are they consuming over there on Necker Island? There are only six houses (aka rooms) holding a maximum of 28 guests. And at a cool $29,000 (single or double) for a seven-night stay during “Celebration Weeks” (the only time you can book individual rooms; otherwise it’s the whole island or nothing for $42,500 per night.
Is his British Virgin Island's nirvana really fully booked all the time to need to make a big deal of letting us know Sir Richard is trying to get green while collecting that green? Forgive us if we smirk just a tad.