- Associated Press - Saturday, October 4, 2014

WAILEA, Hawaii (AP) — The Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay plans to close for about five months during the summer next year, while undergoing a $75 million renovation that includes a new three-pool complex and improvements to its main lobby building.

The Manele resort is scheduled to close between June and October. The Four Seasons Resort The Lodge at Koele will also be closed, from early to late next year, while it houses construction workers laboring on projects on the island.

Both hotels will be used as housing for renovation workers, and the company desires to keep all of the roughly 700 workers at the two resorts employed during the closure, according to a spokeswoman for Pulama Lana‘i. The two resorts’ restaurants also will be closed during renovations.

“It is our intent to keep Four Seasons employees employed, and while we’re still working out details with the union we do feel that we will be able to come to an agreement,” Lori Teranishi of Pulama Lana‘i said via email Thursday.

Pulama Lana‘i, the company that runs operations for billionaire owner Larry Ellison, held a community meeting attended by about 60 people Tuesday at the Lanai Senior Center. Officials with the company briefed the group on the planned renovations and addressed residents’ concerns.

The company still needs a special management area use permit and project district development approval. The renovations also need to be approved by the Lanai Planning Commission.

This map shows the proposed pool renovations at the Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay. The three-pool complex that includes a serenity and a family pool is part of a $75 million renovation.

Commission Chairman John Ornellas said he was given a general overview of the renovations but has not yet seen “all the nuts and bolts” of the project. However, he was happy to see the company’s intent to avoid laying off workers.

“It was nice of Ellison to keep everyone employed and their benefits while he shuts down both resorts,” Ornellas said. “I know some hotels will fire everybody and do the renovation and then rehire everyone … You lose your workforce real quick.”

Lanai resident Butch Gima attended Tuesday’s meeting and said some questions are still being answered between the workers’ union and the company, but that Pulama Lana‘i “made the move to keep everyone employed.”

As to what employees, such as housekeepers and lifeguards, would be doing during the renovations, that is still being worked out by both sides, Gima said.

Gima said the situation for Lanai workers is similar to what the federal government did in forming a national public work relief program with the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression. Workers that may not be utilized during the closure could be used in public work-type jobs, he said.

Noting Ellison’s ownership of 98 percent of Lanai, Ornellas added that workers could do beach cleanups and roadwork.

“We have plenty of things on this island that can be spruced up and maintained,” he said.

The renovations for the Four Seasons Resort includes three new pools to replace the existing main pool between the Plumeria and Dolphin buildings. Spas, poolside cabanas, sunning terraces, food and beverage structures, a beach path, tiki torches and landscape lighting will round out the area, according to plans submitted last week to the Planning Department’s Current Planning Division.

The resort’s Ali’i Suite will consolidate 12 existing guest rooms and enclose a breezeway to create a two-story suite that includes a outdoor patio and service bar, swimming pool and an outdoor lounge with a barbecue pavilion.

The proposed main lobby improvements cover all four levels, including converting an existing office and 13 guest room suites on the fourth floor into spa suites. Renovations also will be made on the sports bar, fitness area, fire protection and alarm systems and other structural improvements.

According to the plans, the resort built in the early 1990s has undergone “incremental improvements” over the years, but “there has not been a significant refresh of the resort for several years.” The report cited changes in visitor preferences and expectations to maintain the resort and establishing it as a “premier Pacific Rim destination.”

“The transformation underway at Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay is paving the way for the resort to offer the highest standards of hospitality and personalized service,” Teranishi said. “A number of enhancements have been already unveiled including new restaurants One Forty, Views and Nobu Lanai; redesigned guest rooms and suites; high-end retail stores; a renovated clubhouse and spa; along with continued investments planned to position the property as a premier resort.”

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Information from: The Maui News, http://www.mauinews.com

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