When Bill Gates and Melinda French married on the tiny (and mostly private) Hawaiian island of Lanai in 1994, their wedding made the news. Gates was already the second-richest man in the world and was determined to keep the event thoroughly media-free: Not only did the Microsoft mogul buy out all of the resort’s 250 hotel rooms for his guests, but it was reported that he hired the entire helicopter fleet on nearby Maui so they couldn’t be booked by paparazzi trying to snag shots from the air. Among the entertainers: Willie Nelson and Alice Cooper.
Eventually the world learned that the couple had exchanged vows on the 12th tee of the Manele Bay Golf Course. For years, it was one of world’s most coveted wedding locations, a clifftop jewel with jaw-dropping views of the Pacific.
And then the resort changed hands, and the golf course was off-limits to romance.
Lanai’s romantic reboot
All that’s changed, as well as the name of the resort itself, now called simply Four Seasons Resort Lanai. New owner Larry Ellison, Oracle founder and sometimes Gates rival, sunk a bundle into renovating every centimeter of the place. And he’s finally given his blessing for weddings on the golf course. You can choose to marry at the Manele Golf Tee Box, a 9,600 square-foot space that comes with a view of the islands of Kahoolawe, Maui, and Hawaii. Or follow in the footsteps of Bill and Melinda and exchange vows on the 12th tee, with the requisite Hawaiian elements: conch shell blower, flower leis, and mind-expanding sunset.
The resort hasn’t refreshed its wedding brochure quite yet, so you’ll need to talk to a Four Seasons event specialist to get all the details. But one thing’s certain: Those tech billionaires know a thing or two about romance.