In 2012, Larry Ellison announced his plan to purchase essentially the entire island of Lanai. This was the beginning of a grand remodel for the luxury resort island, channeling a mix of sustainable luxury and an old-school Hawaiian getaway experience.
Ellison worked with designer Todd-Avery Lenahan and initial resort developer Kurt Matsumoto, to increase the room size and install two pools at the island’s luxurious Four Seasons.
The upgrades drew a lot of attention with celebrities such as Tom Cruise, Will Smith, and Oprah Winfrey visiting or witnessing the development. The island has a rather rich contemporary history, starting more recently from its change of hands from a leader of a Mormon offshoot colony to an entrepreneur who would develop it into the biggest pineapple plantation in the world.
The island’s most recent form really began in 1993, with two resorts and specially-designed golf course. Now there has also been the addition of a Nobu, thanks to help from Robert De Niro and Nobu principal/film producer Meir Teper.
For all of its luxury, the island is still like “a secret hideaway”, as talent manager Shep Gordon once described it. Many roads remain unpaved, and Alberta de Jetley of the “Lanai Today” states a majority of local island residents work for the resorts.
Celebrities have continued to buy and build throughout recent years as they are more or less ensured a sense of privacy and easy community life – without some of the common stresses of fame found elsewhere. Main street has all the comforts of a suburbia-like community with a community pool, sports fields, repainted buildings, and grocery market stocked with organic produce.
Next up for the island is a documentary film festival. Likely a nod to his film producer children, it was definitely inspired by the 2008 shooting of The Tempest on the island. Ellison greatly enjoyed it and even restored an old two-screen movie theater and shows new releases regularly. The film festival is scheduled to open sometime in 2017.