They say one is the loneliest number, but not when you are the only hotel on the Hawaiian Island of Molokai. In fact, if I were to put my business education to work, one is a pretty great number when you are on the supply side of the supply and demand equation. Hotel Molokai is truly the only hotel on the island, however, they don’t abuse their ‘power position’, they embrace it by offering a great lodging experience.
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Quirky is Beautiful
As soon as you pull up to Hotel Molokai you get a glimpse of its Polynesian quirkiness. What – you’re surprised to find out that the only hotel in Molokai is quirky? Just keep in mind that when you are the only one, you can get away with anything; sort of like an only child. And I personally think that being called quirky is one of the best compliments anyone can get. As we pulled into the parking lot the first thing that struck me was the font on the sign. I’m normally not a ‘font person’; but I have plenty of friends who font Nazis. You know – the ones that notice every nuance of fonts and would rather sleep on hot coals rather than use sans serif. The Hotel Molokai font was funky, just as the bungalows were funky inside and out.
The hotel was made up of a number of stand-alone wooden bungalows (with 4 rooms each) in a pseudo-A-frame design. The inside of each room was slightly unique – no two were the same – which in my world makes for a great experience. I stayed in one of their recently remodeled rooms right on the water with an amazing sunrise and sunset view. Most rooms have little kitchenettes, where you could cook a simple meal. And all rooms have a big lanai where you can sit outside and enjoy the view. Or if napping is more your style, test out one of the many hammocks between palm trees that are dotted among the property enticing you every time you walk by.
Since Molokai is home to one of the longest fringe reefs in the world, there isn’t much of a beachfront at Hotel Molokai. Instead, the waves crash far from shore on the reef about 50 feet away leaving a calm little bay by the hotel property (which makes for beautiful still photos). There’s also a great hotel pool to swim in if you don’t feel like playing in the shallow waters of the Pacific near the hotel.
The hotel is always bubbling with activity and people, not just because it’s the only place to stay, but also because it holds one of the two liquor licenses on the island. Hotel Molokai is where locals and visitors come to mingle. And on Monday nights from 4 to 5, there’s even more reason to come have a drink – it’s Manager’s night at Hotel Molokai. Luckily I arrived on a Monday and I sat down and ordered a colorful martini to watch the sun go down near the bay.
As my drink was delivered to my table, so was Michael Drew, the long-time manager of Hotel Molokai. During the Manager’s reception on Mondays he socializes around the tables meeting every guest ensuring they have a drink in hand and a smile on their face. Michael is the type of person who oozes rainbows and unicorns; he’s positive, happy, and a joy to be around. In fact, he’s clearly put his personality into the hotel. The overall feeling of being welcomed (the aloha spirit), is infused in everything that Hotel Molokai does.
After a fire burned down the hotel restaurants a few years ago, they have been working on rebuilding it. It’s scheduled to be opened again in the fall, and it looks as if it will be the one and only fine dining option on Molokai when it’s completed. Once again, even though the competition is low, Michael and the team don’t use that as a crutch. He provided me with a preview of the type of food they would be serving and it was delicious – easily the best meal I had on Molokai during my stay.
And if you are hungry now, just stop by the hotel Mon-Wed-Fri to enjoy some grilled options at the bar. Actually, Friday night is quite special for the hotel, they hold Na Kupuna live performances on Fridays from 4 – 6 pm.
If you want to dig in deeper into Hawaiian culture, travel to Molokai is the best place to do it. Michael and his concierge team will help you set up hula lessons, lei making, coconut weaving, or ukulele lessons for very reasonable costs ($15 to $20). While I was there I participated in a jewelry-making demonstration, which was a fascinating look into the beach combing culture too.
The concierge even helped me with business stuff. I had to file my taxes while I was there (the joyous life of a nomad), and they helped me make printouts and copies all free of charge.
There may be only one hotel on Molokai, but it certainly doesn’t just sit back and enjoy the supply/demand equation. In fact, they work very hard at being the best hotel in Molokai! Thanks to Michael and the staff at Hotel Molokai, ‘one’ never looked so good.
More Info: Hotel Molokai Website
Disclosure: I was a guest of Visit Molokai during my time on the island, however, all opinions here are my own.