All the Four Seasons hotels in Hawaii are amazing. Oahu is the most urban with a wonderful beachfront. It tends to be the best value Four Seasons hotel in Hawaii, and we love their Deluxe Room With Outdoor Spa Tub. Maui is lively and fun with another beautiful beachfront boardwalk that connects you to adjoining hotels. But I am often asked which is the best, Four Seasons Resort Lanai Vs. Hualalai.
In our opinion both of these hotels are the best Four Seasons in Hawaii. There is no wrong choice here. If you have a big budget, I would book a two-center stay so you can enjoy both, but if you are choosing between one or the other, I will try and break down the pros and cons of each hotel. Read on to find out which resort is best for you.
1. Best Location: Four Seasons Resort Lanai Vs. Hualalai
Four Seasons Resort Lanai is directly on the beach in Lanai. The island of Lanai is a peaceful paradise across the water from Maui, and there is nothing around this hotel except a golf course and wild coastline. This hotel is a true escape and is usually reached by a flight from Honolulu on Oahu or a ferry from Maui.
Four Seasons Hualalai is located on Big Island’s North Kona coast. It is surrounded by white-sand beaches, black-lava landscapes, and the dazzlingly blue ocean. Four Seasons Resort Hualalai is around a half-hour drive from the city of Kailua-Kona and less than 20 minutes from the upscale boutiques of Kings’ Shops.
If you are looking for a remote resort, Four Seasons Resort Lanai probably fits the bill best. If you want to do some touring or like to shop, Four Seasons Resort Hualalai may be a better choice.
If you’re booking a stay at either resort, we’d recommend booking through our luxury travel concierge which is an official Four Seasons Preferred Partner agency. Bookings with us put you at the front of the queue for room upgrades over any other supplier.
Both hotels feel very exclusive. Lanai probably has the edge here because when you fly into the tiny Lanai airport, you are immediately given access to the Four Seasons lounge and are greeted by Four Seasons staff. So your arrival is more exclusive and is designed by Four Seasons. When you arrive on Big Island, you arrive at a larger, more generic airport.
Equally, anyone can visit Hualalai restaurants if they make a booking, even if they are not staying at the hotel. On Lanai, this is unlikely as pretty much everyone who visits the island stays at Four Seasons Resort Lanai or Four Seasons Sensei resort up the hill. These are the two major resorts on Lanai.
3. Best Pool
The Four Seasons Lanai has a gorgeous freeform pool on the terrace with views out to sea. From this pool, a sandy pathway leads down to the virtually private beach on Lanai. There is another pool nestled in foliage in the tranquil pool gardens.
At Four Seasons, Hualalai has eight pools, so it wins on this front. These pools range from an adults-only pool where you can enjoy cocktails and music to a dedicated kids pool, a lap pool, and, finally, an outdoor aquarium pool where you can swim with thousands of tropical fish.
4. Best Beach
The beach at Four Seasons Lanai is fabulous and feels completely isolated (in a good way). When we last stayed, we spotted dolphins jumping in the air just off the beach. The sand is golden, the beach is wide, and it’s backed by palm trees and bushes. Because it is only easily accessible to guests at Four Seasons Lanai, it always feels fairly empty and very exclusive. Perhaps the only disadvantage of this beach is that it is a few minutes stroll down a sandy pathway from the hotel, which means it’s an uphill walk back up to the hotel, which can be hot in the sunshine.
The pools at Hualalai feel more integrated into the resort, with the Banyan Tree pool actually being steps from the beach. The resort is built on the water’s edge, so all the beaches and coves are easily accessible here. The beach will probably be a shorter walk from your room at Hualalai. It’s also worth mentioning that the beaches at Hualalai Resort are basking grounds for the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle. The multitude of Green Sea turtles that thrive here enjoy eating the limu (seaweed) off the rocks and resting on the sand or the rocks to warm their bodies. This can add an extra element of fun if you’re into wildlife.
Both beaches are different but brilliant in their own way.
5. Best Style
Both hotels are beautifully presented and have an Asian-Hawaiian style. They are both gorgeous.
6. Best For fitness
Both hotels have excellent fitness facilities. If you want a lap pool, go for Hualalai.
7. Best For Families
If your children like wildlife, Hualalai is better because of the swimming pool full of fish and turtles. Hualalai also has a dedicated children’s pool which means they can splash without offending other guests.
8. Best Restaurant & Bar
Both have brilliant restaurants and bars.
9. Best Golf
Four Seasons Lanai has the Manele Golf Course. Built on lava outcroppings, this Jack Nicklaus-signature course features three holes perched on cliffs, enlisting the Pacific Ocean as a water hazard. The five-tee concept challenges the best golfers, tee shots over natural gorges and ravines must be precise, and novice players will enjoy practicing their swing amid spectacular vistas. Course access is exclusively available to Resort guests.
Four Seasons Resort Hualalai has an excellent golf course crafted with sensitivity to its unique environment. This 18-hole, Jack Nicklaus signature, championship course winds over 7,100 yards, beginning in a lush oasis, flowing across bright green fairways contoured against black lava, then returning to the ocean for the final holes.
Which is best? The golf course at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai is less difficult, so your choice depends on how much of a challenge you are after. If you want to test yourself, I can’t imagine anywhere better than Lanai.
10. Best Rooms
Most of our clients book the standard or Ocean View rooms. I prefer the rooms at Hualalai as I like the ones on the ground floor (Hualalai rooms are in 2-floor blocks), so I can walk out from my room onto the dewey lawns in the morning or even step out straight onto the beach if you manage to book one of the beachfront rooms or suites.
My top picks are the poolside room, where you can stroll from your private terrace to the pool for a quick dip or just enjoy the views of the verdant landscaped gardens from your private lanai. The ground-floor rooms in this category also have a blissful outdoor shower. The Oceanfront rooms enable you to walk straight from your bed onto the beach if you pick a ground-floor room and also have an outdoor shower (ground floor only). If you can splurge, the one- or two-bedroom ‘Anelakai Suite on the lower level is fantastic. It opens to an extended lanai with a plunge pool, private lawn and direct access to the beach. An outdoor dining table inspires breakfasts with an ocean breeze and romantic dinners for two.
At Lanai, the hotel is built on a hill, so the oceanfront rooms enjoy the crash of the waves when you fall asleep, but you can’t walk out of them and straight onto the beach.
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