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Larry Ellison Paying Workers On His Island Of Lanai Amid Shut Down

In 2010, Larry Ellison bought 98% of Lanai for $300 million and has been known ever since as a benevolent landlord to the people and businesses of Lanai. By providing all wages and benefits to his island’s employees while many of its businesses remain closed, he is enhancing that reputation.

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The smallest populated island in Hawaii is Lanai. Due to its history as a pineapple plantation, it was formerly referred to as “The Pineapple Island.” James Drummond Dole was a young Harvard graduate running his nascent pineapple company in Oahu in 1922. Dole spent $1.1 million for the property that year, and within a short time, Dole pineapple had seized control of the entire island. Dole plowed the island’s interior into fields, built roads, and a harbor, and laid out a quaint town in the center of the island with Dole Park in the middle. To accommodate the laborers in his pineapple fields, plantation-style cottages were built all around the park. Nearly all of the island’s 3,000 inhabitants in 1930 were Dole workers. Each year, the island exported 65,000 tons of pineapples. Dole constructed a golf course and hired gardeners to maintain the lawns of his employees. “Have happy employees, cultivate great pineapples,” was Dole’s mantra.

Phillip Faraone/Getty Images

Getty Images/Philip Faraone

Lanai is one of the most secluded spots in Hawaii with gorgeous quiet beaches, hiking towns, and one small town – Lanai City – which is so small it doesn’t even have a traffic light. Only 140 square miles in size, the island is inhabited by 3,200 people. Two golf courses, three hotels, a school, and a police station are all located on the island. Ellison is the owner of the island’s hotels, the water company, the primary grocery store, the cemetery, and nearly a third of Lanai’s homes. Additionally, he is attempting to purchase the island’s power grid.

All of the businesses on the property owned by Ellison have also had their rent cut or cancelled. The employees that work for the businesses he owns on the island are being paid by him. No information has been released regarding whether Ellison will also extend the salaries, perks, and canceled rent for May. The only three hotels on the island are owned by Ellison: the Hotel Lanai, the Four Seasons Resort Lanai, and the Four Seasons Hotel Lanai at Koele, a Sensei Retreat. A minimal security staff is attempting to keep them all somewhat working even if they are all temporarily shuttered. Only a small number of the buildings and companies on the island are not owned by Ellison and do not pay rent to him. This includes the petrol station, two financial institutions, a credit union, a car rental agency, and a coffee shop. Additionally, he is the owner of Dole Park, the city’s main public plaza, as well as all the nearby structures. In addition, he is the owner of the island’s cemetery, the town swimming pool, the theater, the grocery store, two golf courses, the water company, and several other facilities. He owns 87,000 acres of Lanai’s total 90,000 acres.

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After being exposed in Maui, one Lanai resident tested positive for COVID-19. That person is hospitalized in Maui so the virus has not yet reached Lanai.