Upgrades on way for resort at Manele Bay

Pulama Lana’i will begin its nearly $27 million renovation of the Four Seasons Resort Lana’i at Manele Bay, which will be more about upgrading facilities and rooms than additions, possibly before the end of the year.

The company held an informational meeting, attended by about 40 residents, Wednesday on plans for the improvements on the hotel, the largest on the island with 235 guest rooms.

Comments by company officials at the meeting and in documents filed with the county indicate that the work will involve upgrading plumbing and electrical systems throughout the hotel, improving kitchen equipment at the One Forty restaurant, the installation of a sushi bar and two teppanyaki stations in the Nobu Lanai restaurant, expanding the hotel retail space and renovations to the spa and the The Challenge at Manele Clubhouse.

Other renovation plans include opening of walls between some adjacent rooms to create two-room suites, replacing the wood and metal/glass roof of the poolside bar with natural thatch roofing and making Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility improvements throughout the resort.

Plans filed with the Planning Department indicate that the footprint of the hotel will not be changing and that the project will not involve major permit requirements, such as a special management area permit. In fact, the project already has the majority of its permits.

Company officials said that some of the work could begin before the end of the year, residents attending Wednesday’s meeting said.

The project is anticipated to take six to eight months to complete, the documents showed. The resort will remain open during the renovations, with construction areas screened off.

Manele resident Caron Green, who attended the informational meeting, said that the plans “sound very good,” but “we’ll see” how it works out.

Both Green and vocal Lanai resident Ron McOmber, who did not attend the meeting but has seen the plans, had positive responses to the company’s decision to minimize the impact of the influx of workers for the renovation. This was a major concern for Lanai residents. When Lanai’s former owner David Murdock brought in workers to build the two current resorts, residents have said that crime and drug activity increased.

Pulama Lana’i, led by billionaire Larry Ellison, is different, Green said. The company plans to fly and ferry workers in and out, rather than trying to find housing for them, which is scarce, she said. Some workers will be staying at Manele’s sister resort, Four Seasons Resort Lana’i, The Lodge at Koele.

In addition, Green said, the company gave residents a phone number to call if they see workers acting inappropriately.

“I think they are being sensitive to the community and the community’s concerns,” she said. “They are trying to do it in the best possible way.”

McOmber said that the workers were the company’s responsibility, adding “at least we won’t be impacted by them.”

In deference to the residents, the company also said at the meeting that it will not use large trucks to transport materials along the twisting and turning roads from the harbor to Manele Bay, Green said.

The multimillion-dollar renovation project is just one of several projects that Pulama Lana’i, which owns most of the island, is currently working on. Renovations are ongoing at the company’s store, Richard’s Market, in the heart of town, and work has begun on its desalination system on the island’s southern end.

Pulama Lana’i is the entity overseeing development and operations for Ellison, who bought 98 percent of the Lanai from Castle & Cooke in 2012. Ellison also envisions a third resort on the island, more housing and a second airport runway.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at