T+L READERS LOVE THIS EXCLUSIVE RESORT SET ON ONE OF HAWAII'S MOST SECLUDED ISLANDS — READ OUR REVIEW

A marine sanctuary and one of the most iconic landmarks on the island are steps away from the Four Seasons Resort Lanai.

For me, the Four Seasons Resort Lanai conjures up memories of lounging in the jacuzzi with whales breaching in the distance, homemade popsicles in hand, and fresh seafood eaten off a tray table in my lounge chair. In other words, full-on vacation mode. That said, it’s easy to see why I was downright giddy to experience this hotel again in June.

Rather than taking the passenger ferry from Maui, where I’ve lived for the past four years, I flew in on an eight-passenger jet via Lanai Air from Honolulu, as — a nice perk — flights are included in your stay. With access to the luxury lounge and no TSA lines, I felt like a VIP before even reaching the resort.

A friendly hotel driver met me at the airport and drove me along windy roads lined with Cook Pines (think: extra-tall Christmas tree). After turning down Highway 440 South, Manele Bay came into view along with the 35-acre Four Seasons Resort Lanai and its botanical gardens.

“There’s a sanctuary-esque type of feel that you get here,” says Juan Leonis, resort manager. “We get this comment quite a lot when people do come here; it’s that they’re truly able to disconnect, that they are truly able to breathe and relax as this is not situated on one of the bigger islands or, the more populated islands.”

About 140 square miles, Lanai is home to about 3,000 residents, one school, and a lot of beauty. There are no highrises, no chain restaurants, and no stoplights. Travelers who visit Lanai do so for its rugged landscapes and quiet coastlines. You score the same dreamy views as the other Hawaiian islands, minus the crowds.

One thing I enjoy about the Four Seasons is the focus on customer service. Nearly all the staff members know your name and your dietary preferences, and employees continually try to add special touches to your trip.

“We had a couple that was married here 10 years ago, and our sous chef, Nick, instead of just saying, 'Oh, what would you like for the night?' the team actually recreated their dishes from their wedding,” says Leonis.

Read on for Travel + Leisure's full review of this super luxe hotel.

Four Seasons Resort Lanai

  • The open-air lobby is enough to put anyone at ease. 
  • Rooms are spacious with furnished lanais.
  • It’s a quick walk to gorgeous Hulopoʻe Beach where tide pools are filled with hermit crabs, sea stars, and small fish.
  • The resort’s rescue bird program, a partnership with the Peninsula Humane Society and headed up by the gregarious “Uncle Bruno,” houses and nurtures birds who cannot be returned to nature.

The Rooms

The Manele Bay Hotel opened in 1991 and became the Four Seasons Lanai Resort in 2005. Fast forward to today, and it’s home to 213 guest rooms and suites (ocean or garden views) with the perfect combo of Japanese and Polynesian influences. Think zebra-wood edging and teak walls, mahogany flooring, and wool rugs.

Rooms include Nespresso machines, Champagne stemware, and electric kettles. The bathrooms are super spacious and stylish with slate floors, teak paneled walls, double-wide rain showers, tubs and Aina bath amenities featuring locally sourced kukui nut oil. Oh, and my favorite: Toto toilets that automatically open and close — and remote-controlled lights and shades. The fridges have local beers, coconut water, and Hawaiian chocolates from Manoa.

I stayed in a standard partial-ocean view room (starting rate of $1,450) on a sloping hillside with views of the Pacific. My walk to the lobby was full of tropical gardens, outdoor sculptures, and waterways stocked with koi fish.

Booking the two-bedroom Alii Royal Suite (starting at $26,000 per night) secures the most bragging rights and comes with a private cabana for your entire stay, a dedicated ambassador on call, and a Tesla 3 or Jeep rental for island galavanting.

Food and Drink

Food is a highlight at any Four Seasons resort. My first stop was lunch at Malibu Farm where I kept my eyes on the prize (aka the Pacific Ocean) and ate fresh mahi, a local beet salad, and a smoothie. The next day, I  ordered the same meal from my poolside cabana and topped it off with a housemade ice cream sandwich.

Come dinnertime, Nobu Lanai offers up Japanese dishes prepared with Peruvian ingredients. Dine on sushi and lobster, or try the 15-course Teppanyaki dinner experience. For breakfast, One Forty blueberry ricotta pancakes and lychee waffles are tough to beat. My waitress was even willing to recreate a smoothie I had at Four Seasons Hualalai and didn’t bat an eye when I realized I needed to change to a to-go order since it was nearly time to catch the ferry to head home to Maui. For quick salads, coffee, homemade gelato, and sammies, stop by The Break.

Activities and Experiences

You could easily stay cocooned in the resort for days on end thanks to classes (from musubi-making lessons to ukulele workshops); a fitness center with ocean views; an adults-only pool and family-friendly lagoon pool; and the 18-hole golf course. But there is much to see when you venture out.

“Whether it's the shooting range, the ranch, or the boats down at the harbor, they all are managed by Four Seasons,” says Leonis. “So we're able to control the experience.”

The first morning, I hiked to Sweetheart Rock (Puu Pehe). It was a five-minute walk from my room to Hulopo‘e Beach and 10 minutes uphill to the giant rock protruding from the ocean floor.

Thalassophiles like me fully appreciate the hotel’s high-speed luxe boat that takes divers and snorkelers to the prettiest spots, including Cathedrals, a series of undersea caverns. On a good day, 100-plus feet of visibility is standard.

Thanks to a huge focus on culture at the resort, guests learn about the resort’s cultural artifacts, attend herbal-healing workshops, and take a deep dive into wayfinding at the on-site Lanai Observatory. The two-story dome has a retractable roof and a telescope that weighs in at around 3,000 pounds.

“If we don't share the knowledge, the knowledge gets lost,” says Samson Kaleialohi Aki, a cultural advisor at the resort. “So we pass the knowledge and pass the stories along.”

The Spa

At the Hawanawana Spa, treatments range from sound therapy to ti leaf relief wraps to full-body honey experiences. I opted for the signature facial incorporating Kerstin Florian products, a papaya and pineapple enzyme peel, and a mud mask.

Continue the blissful state with retail therapy in the spa store, where you’ll find Osea creams, Kensko eye masks, and Malie body wash. Retail shops in the lobby have Christian Lacroix journals, Artesano Panama hats, Hunza G swimsuits, Bembien tote bags, and Prada sunglasses.

Family-friendly Offerings

Kids for All Seasons — for guests 5 to 12 years old — is complimentary. For younger kiddos, private nanny service is available. From tide-pool trips to make-your-own-food nights, children will never be bored.

Accessibility and Sustainability

The resort has nine ADA-compliant rooms, some with roll-in showers, lower cabinets, and closets. All restaurants have elevator access, there’s a wheelchair ramp to the beach, and the pool has an ADA-compliant lift. Service animals are welcome.

Poolside, guests have complimentary Project Reef sunscreen, which is reef-safe; reusable Ocean Bottles are available with water-refill stations throughout; and the organic landscaping is impressive.

Location

About a 20-minute drive from the one-runway Lanai Airport, the resort is perched on a cliff above Manele Bay.

If you’re coming from Maui, take the Expeditions Maui-Lanai Passenger Ferry ($26.50 one way). As you travel through the 'Au'au Channel, be on the lookout for dolphins, sea turtles, and whales (during whale season from December to March). Lanai is roughly 10 miles west of Maui, so the boat ride is only an hour and 15 minutes. From Honolulu, it’s a 25-minute flight via Hawaiian Airlines, Mokulele Airlines or Lanai Air.

You could easily go without a car during your stay, but if you’d like to explore on your own, book a Jeep on site.

How to Get the Most Value Out of Your Stay

Flights from Honolulu on Lanai Air are included in your stay. Hotel loyalty programs include Four Seasons Preferred Partners, American Express, Virtuoso, Chase, and Internova.

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