We have reviewed the best Four Seasons hotels in Hawaii, but if you are looking for true escapism on the Hawaiian Islands, look no further than the Four Seasons Lanai. Overlooking Hulopoe Bay, this relaxing retreat offers the emptiest hotel beach on the Hawaiian islands.
Four Seasons Lanai is the most remote Four Seasons hotel on the Hawaiian Islands. I reviewed the best way to get deals and special offers at Four Seasons Lanai. The key is to book your next Four Seasons stay via our luxury travel concierge, and we can give you free loyalty-style benefits, room upgrades, and perks at the cheapest rates.
This Four Seasons hotel is also the most difficult Four Seasons to get to on the Hawaiian Islands. The Maui and Oahu hotels can be reached by one flight direct from the mainland and then a short transfer. International flights do not fly into the tiny airport in Lanai.
Ohana by Hawaiian Airlines offers several flights daily from Honolulu International Airport (HNL) to Lanai Airport (LNY). Flights take 20 minutes, after which guests are transferred to the resort by complimentary shared luxury shuttle service. When you fly into the airport, the Four Seasons has its own airport lounge, and as you arrive, you will be presented with a Lei (girl’s orchids, boy’s wooden beads) that I love.
The Expeditions passenger ferry offers daily services between Lahaina, Maui, and the Manele Small Boat Harbor on Lanai, just a three-minute complimentary drive from the resort. The scenic ferry ride is 45 minutes, and there are five round-trip ferries throughout the day. Reservations at least 24 hours prior to departure are required and can be booked online.
Best Time To Visit
Visit in Hawaii’s off-season, when the rates are cheaper, and five for the price of four-night deals are sometimes available. Ideally, travel is in spring (April to June) and fall (September to November). Winter in Hawaii can be cloudy and wet from December to March, but it is a popular time to travel simply because the rest of the Northern hemisphere is so miserable and cold. Lanai is one of the driest and sunniest of the Hawaiian islands, making it a great hotel to book, whatever the time of year.
Lanai offers a mix of lunar landscapes, mountain forests, red lava coastal cliffs, and miles and miles of empty beaches. Lanai was also known as the Pineapple Island because of the island’s pineapple plantations which once produced up to 75% of the world’s pineapples. In 2012, Silicon Valley billionaire Larry Ellison bought a 97% share of the island for $300 million USD and became the Four Seasons Lanai owner.
When we arrived on Lanai, we were immediately struck by how empty and dry much of the middle of the island is a stark contrast to the lushness of Kauai or Maui. However, as you reach the coast, you are transported into the Manele Bay oasis. The building is Mediterranean-style with beautiful tropical gardens, and the whole hotel overlooks Hulopoe Bay, with one of the best and emptiest beaches we have experienced on the Islands.
Style & Character
The design of the Four Seasons Lanai is all about views. The hotel’s main lounge, bar, fitness area, eateries, and pool all overlook this beautiful, picture-perfect bay.
As you would expect, this is a Four Seasons hotel, so the decoration is in tasteful creams and browns, and all the communal areas look out upon the views of Hulopoe Bay. The main lounge, bar, fitness area, eateries, and pool all overlook this beautiful swathe of the picture-perfect bay.
The interiors have teak, and zebra wood walls and mahogany-laid floors with hand-woven area rugs. Botanical gardens, two lagoon-style pools, and cascading waterfalls serve as a beautiful backdrop for outdoor art.
The Four Seasons Lanai has 168 guest rooms and 45 suites reached via open hallways. These renovated rooms are lovely and offer an Asian fusion feel with hardwood floors, a mix of browns with creams, and a wonderful large balcony. The large, zen-like bathroom has teak-paneled walls and artisan tiles and features two sinks, a deep soaking bath, a separate shower, and a bidet toilet. The main difference between the rooms is where they are located and, therefore, their view.
Rooms feature a heavenly king-sized bed, a giant 75-inch LED TV, two desks, a sofa, and a private lanai (or balcony). We stayed in a partial ocean view, which looked out towards the golf course and some wildland with a glimpse of the sea in the distance.
Oceanfront rooms are on the front edge of the resort, and some are so close to the sea that you can hear the waves crashing below (request the plumeria wing for this to the left of the resort when facing the sea). If you prefer more panoramic ocean views, choose the other side of the resort, which comes in slightly less expensive.
Of course, the Garden View suite at this hotel in Lanai is undoubtedly the best deal, as you get to enjoy all the benefits of the resort at the cheapest possible price. The consistent quality offered by Four Seasons guarantees an enjoyable, whatever room you book. The best rooms are those on the Ocean Front (of course!).
Service & Facilities
The two pools are open day and night. A lagoon-style, free-form family pool comes with whirlpools and is located below the lobby, and features a cascading waterfall. An adults-only pool is located in a quiet corner of the resort (the so-called ‘adults-only retreat’). It has amazing waterfalls and lava rock grottos mimicking Lanai’s dramatic cliffs.
The beach at the Four Seasons Lanai is spectacular. The resort sits on a red-lava bluff with views over Hulopoe Bay and its pristine beach. This stunning beach is a 5-minute stroll from the hotel’s lobby via meandering pathways.
Hulopoe Bay is a protected marine reserve, and while we were there, we saw plenty of spinner dolphins jumping about in the water. They can usually be spotted in the summer. In the winter, you are likely to spot humpback whales that come quite close to shore.
The beach is public (but usually pretty empty except for Four Seasons guests). The Four Seasons has its own section offering beach services, including complimentary use of snorkeling equipment, showers, lounge chairs, and towels (from sunrise to sunset).
Beyond Hulopoe Bay, tide pools (or rock pools as we call them here in England!) can be found at the far end of the beach as well as one of Lanai’s most famous natural landmarks, Puu Pehe or Sweetheart Rock.
Your other sleeping option is the sometimes cheaper Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort. It reminded us of a perfectly formed and maintained opulent English manor house with the most beautiful and colorful lush gardens you can imagine. Sensei Lanai is also a golfer’s paradise with a stunning PGA course.
You will also find the best trek on the island at Sensei Lanai. Wind through the forest, past the golf course to reach amazing viewpoints a-top of the island. Though not an extremely long trek, it’s quite a steep walk. You’d be best advised to take your walking shoes and a supply of water. Don’t forget to tell the concierge you trekking, and they’ll watch out for your return.
It’s easy to laze your days away by the pool or on the near-empty beach, which is a 5-minute walk down a slope from the hotel. Golf is also the other way to while the time away here. The Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course is not only Lanai’s premier 18-hole layout but also the only golf course in Hawaii that affords breathtaking ocean views at every hole. The golf course is usually pretty empty and offers an excellent restaurant too.
Built on lava outcroppings along the rugged oceanside cliffs, its par-3 12th hole is scenic and considered one of the most beautiful holes in the world; Bill Gates married his wife Melinda here in 1994 (and the Gates couple returned to Lanai in 2015 to celebrate their 20th anniversary).
The Hawanawana Spa at Four Seasons Resort Lanai offers treatments inspired by the ocean’s healing powers. The spa features eight treatment rooms plus four couples’ suites. The spa’s signature treatment is the Ocean Ritual, which incorporates wild seaweed and under algae oil.
Further afield, you can take a catamaran sunset sail or spend the day off-roading in a 4×4 made for an off-the-beaten-path adventure.
Food & Drink
The resort has four restaurants which aren’t cheap but are very good. Nobu Lanai is the hotel’s signature restaurant and the first Nobu outpost in the Four Seasons chain. Offering teppanyaki (where food is cooked tableside) as well as an intimate sushi counter, this restaurant serves the Japanese-Peruvian cuisine of world-renowned chef Nobu Matsuhisa.
Across the lobby is the property’s second all-day dining restaurant, One Forty, which specializes in steak and seafood, including prime and Wagyu beef, as well as seasonal Hawaiian fish.
On the lobby’s top level, the Sport’s Bar & Grill offers a selection of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, dishes from the grill, and hand-rolled pasta. The Malibu Farm is a poolside outlet that serves delicious organic salads, sandwiches, and other plates at lunch.
A fantastic breakfast buffet is served at One Forty. It is undoubtedly the best breakfast buffet on the Hawaiian islands, including the usual egg options, etc., as well as a large selection of Japanese and Korean delicacies, such as tamago (sweet omelet), sushi, sashimi, and black miso cod. The buffet is complemented by an extensive à la carte menu.
Don’t expect a great deal of nightlife here. In fact, when we stayed, the alfresco restaurant by the pool closed quite early. The place to hang out into the night is the beautiful alfresco bar on a large Lanai with sweeping views, connected to the Nobu restaurant, which serves a light menu and drinks through to late in the evening. After this, you can always wander barefoot down to the beach, where you will almost undoubtedly be alone, and you can enjoy a paddle under a milky way of stars.
The Four Seasons offers regular shuttles between the two hotels, and you can dine at either. If you have a room with a view, I can recommend the in-room dining on your balcony.
If it was good enough for Bill Gates’ wedding, it’s good enough for us. Exquisite Lana’i, pronounced “Lah-nigh-ee”, has an elitist feel as it is somewhat off the beaten track, so is one of the few proper escapes on the Hawaiian Islands.
If you are looking for a remote, rough, and rural island with peaceful, empty beaches, star-filled evenings, snorkeling and swimming, hiking remote trails, or renting a four-wheel-drive vehicle for the day to go off-road, you must try Lanai.
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