Ellison to invest in Lanai's Four Seasons - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Ellison to invest in Lanai's Four Seasons

The future of Lanai's two Four Seasons resorts is looking more luxurious.

Instead of shutting down the properties -- as some feared -- the new owner, billionaire Larry Ellison, is looking to invest millions to make them even nicer.

Ellison's representatives met with Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa on Tuesday to talk about their future plans for Lanai. While they didn't revealed the dollar amounts, Arakawa said the Lanai's new owners plan to invest for the '"long-term."

"They are talking about strengthening the hotels and making the hotels much more upgraded. They are looking at doing things to improve the hotel situations there," said Arakawa.

"He's willing to take losses in the short period understanding that it's going to take investment to be able to revitalize the economy."

The proposed upgrades come as the Department of Transportation is looking to expand the island's airport runway safety area so it can handle larger commercial jets.

Right now, the runway is about 5,000 feet long, which is only big enough for 37-seat propeller driven jets.

The state's proposed $21 million upgrade, now in the design stage, would allow larger 100-passenger, interisland jets to land on Lanai.

Real estate expert Stephany Sofos says its only natural that Ellison will invest in the hotels and Lanai's visitor industry given the size of his land purchase.

The two hotels -- the Manele Bay hotel and the Lodge at Koele -- are high-end properties that have been losing money. Hotel experts say the properties will require millions of dollars in investments to bring them up to current standards.

"What it means for tourism is that it's opening up the island of Lanai for everybody now.

Once you bring in more seating and bigger buses which we call planes then you'll have more people coming to the islands, which means more growth, which means more tourism, which means for dollars."

 The airport expansion could take up to two years, but no timeline has been set for the hotel upgrades.

Copyright 2012 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

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