Once in a great while the OnceABachelor must drop his offspring with the Grandparents and make a brief escape. With the Christmas season starting, my beautiful wife and I did just that, with a trip to our favorite "resort" hotel: the Lodge at Koele, on the Island of Lanai. My law partner and his wife (both of whom were my closest high school classmates) came along for the good times. It was certainly a quick vacation worthy of the Epic Life we should all try to lead.
The Lodge was where my bride and I had our honeymoon, and it is where my law firm holds its annual retreat with the wives. This Christmas marks the first time I've come back For No Good Reason. We flew in on a small Cessna Caravan in which the two of us were the only passengers, and on the way to Lanai I got a view of Honolulu you rarely ever get on the big jetliners. Contrast the cityscape with the cliffs of Lanai, and you get an idea of what the latter island is all about.
We arrived to find the hotel bedecked in Christmas ornaments, trees, and holly. The only thing missing, of course, was the snow, but the brisk highland air would do. Our room, as always, was cozy but far from small, with a view of the pond and immense banyan trees.
The Lodge is hardly a big resort hotel. Never crowded, it is small enough that its staff know you by name, even before you arrive. The illusion is similar to a ride up in the First Class cabin, where you are given personalized attention. This, combined with the authentic hunting lodge ambiance, make Koele my favorite hoteling experience. The Lodge is a very masculine place, all wood and leather and stone, boasting artifacts ranging from Polynesian to Asian and African.
Aside from the Lodge's great hall and two dining rooms, there are four other rooms of importance. The first is a semi-octagonal game room equipped with billiards, shuffleboard table, chess and backgammon tables. Next is a library, another octagon, with several conversational areas. There is a music room with a grand piano. These rooms all have stone fireplaces that are useful since upcountry Lanai's nighttime temperature often dips into the fifties.
And of course, the Lodge has a small, well stocked bar with excellent wait staff, all of whom, again, know your name. It is quiet and the other guests, all feeling that they are in on the same juicy secret that you are in on, are always friendly. It is a whispering kind of bar, but it is so inviting that we've been known to turn whole afternoons to haziness in there. My libation of choice for the weekend was the Lodge's special Mai Tai. Not always a fan of tart sweet cocktails, this one I felt was appropriate for the Pineapple Isle.
And lest you think the weekend was all about the indoors, the Lodge has a spectacular grounds, too, including a large koi stocked pond, a greenhouse, bamboo forest, an occasional flock of wild turkey (which seemed abundant this year), a 9 hole putting course (not to mention a world class golf course I've never seen (I'm not a golfer, but I'm told it's called the Experience), three croquet pitches and a huge bowling lawn. My wife indulged me a cigar under the eaves of its church (what other hotel has an active Congregational church on its own grounds?). We taught our wives how to shoot shotguns at a nearby sporting clays course. Turns out we married natural born killers. The only thing we didn't do was our traditional midnight cocktail raids to the hot tubs (our numbers were meek).
I really wanted to sing the praises of the Lodge and I feel I have failed to do that sufficiently. All I have done is summarize it. How should I put it. It is a place we truly love. In writing this, I realize that what I love about this place, besides the memories we make, are the spaces it gives us to occupy. It's not a hotel you pass through. It's one you inhabit.
Merry Christmas to all. May you be with your loved ones occupying places close to your heart.
*Click on the painting at the top to visit the website of Lanai artist Mike Carroll, who painted this image of the Lodge.