I was fortunate enough recently to be offered a spot on a mini blogger tour for Island Air that included a free night’s stay at the Four Seasons Resorts Manele Bay on Lanai. Full disclosure here: Yes, it was free. But that doesn’t stop me from being totally honest about my experience, so here goes.
When you think of the Four Seasons brand, luxury immediately comes to mind and it is to be expected. When your experience far exceeds your expectations you have to be impressed, and that’s what happened in my case at the Four Seasons at Manele Bay. It was a short but amazing trip, hob-nobbing with PR and travel industry honchos start to finish at one of the most beautiful and refined resorts in the world.
The day began with a meet-and-greet in Lanai with Four Seasons team, including Tom Roelens, Craig Newton and Kristina Silva. They all were extremely knowledgeable & enthusiastic about every aspect of the property but more importantly, had a empathetic sensitivity to people of Lanai and the Aina. There is a strong vision for the future of the resort with a real-world understanding of the real purpose which is what the renovations and upgrades are all about.
It’s important to note here that the Lodge at Koele is currently closed for renovations, and Manele Bay will close from June through November for further renovations and upgrades. Lanai owner and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has seen that all employees affected will remain on the payroll, either reassigned or receiving continued compensation while improvements and new construction are completed.
During that time, the golf courses at Manele Bay and the Lodge at Koele will remain open for day trips to Lanai. Manele Bay is the only course in Hawaii designed by legend Jack Nicklaus, and among the most picturesque in the world.
We arrived on Lanai greeted by hotel staff and were treated to a brief tour of tiny Lanai City (population 3,000). It included a stop at the Lodge at Koele and a description of the work going on there, which appears to be coming along nicely.
Being an admitted lover of cats, I really liked the drive past Lanai Animal Rescue. It’s a feral cat and animal rescue sanctuary. We didn’t stop, but I did learn that the animals there are cared for and nourished humanely and lovingly.
Great thought and care have gone into the landscaping at Four Seasons Lanai at Manele Bay. Dozens of native Hawaiian plant species decorate the property; pretty much all of plant life on the property is native. And even with all of the renovations and improvements underway, you’d never know that it’s a construction site. This is important, because what resort guest wants to wake up to the sound of a cement mixer or jackhammer?
The lobby and public spaces at Four Seasons Resort Manele Bay reflects the direction of the changes that are planned. The former Asian-themed décor has been replaced by a tasteful Hawaiian theme. I learned that the former décor, which was elegant and no doubt spendy, was auctioned and the proceeds were donated to Lanai non-profit organizations. It’s part of the Four Seasons effort to be a steward of the community and the good works that happen on Lanai.
A large art installation, a sort of mobile suspended from the ceiling on the way to my room, added a sense of elegant grandeur to an already luxurious experience.
When I walked into my newly remodeled room at the Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay, I knew immediately that I was in for a new kind of resort experience. This is partly because my room key wasn’t a key, actually, but a bracelet that functions as a key-fob. Don’t worry about leaving your card-key at the pool or on the beach. You’re wearing it! It’s simple and brilliant, and it makes me think, “Why didn’t I think of that?” I was there with a group of travel industry executives, and we all remarked about how cool the concept is.
As for the room itself, it was absolutely gorgeous. The spacious lanai opens out onto a sweeping view of the coast. The room was listed as “Garden View,” and the unexpected sea vista gave it a definite “Wow Factor.” Even overcast skies didn’t diminish the beauty. I took it in with the chilled fruit juice that was waiting for me on the coffee table when I arrived.
The rooms at Manele are “smart rooms” with massive, 75-inch HD screens, complimentary internet access, BluRay, and access to over 3,000 newspapers worldwide. In-room iPads connect guests to a variety of services, including one that will let you know when humpback whales or spinner dolphins are at play in the bay. Awesome.
The room was tastefully appointed in a subtle and dignified Hawaiiana theme, elegant and welcoming. Thick terry bathrobes and down pillows and duvet were the very image of comfort. The minibar was quite well stocked and offered a Nespresso station.
But I want to talk about the bathroom. It was glorious. Done up in polished, gleaming white travertine marble, it featured a soaking tub and separate shower. The toilet was a wonder, modern, digital, and equipped with “options.” Use your imagination, I guess. The complimentary amenities include kukui nut oil from Alberta’s Farm on Lanai, which smells like paradise.
It was almost hard to leave my room at Four Seasons at Manele Bay for the activities planned for the day. But it was time for lunch at Views, the resort’s signature restaurant. I enjoyed a delicious pork belly lettuce wrap and a hearty burger. The service was excellent, and the food was sublime.
After lunch we were given some time to explore the resort before dinner, so I took a walk to Hulopoe Bay and the ancient Hawaiian heiau there. I’m not a guy who is often at a loss for words, but the sheer beauty of the view, even under overcast skies, left me speechless. The brilliant colors of the setting orange sun made me appreciate the truly lucky moment I was experiencing.
I was still full after such a sumptuous luncheon, but dinner was at Nobu Lani. No way I’m gonna miss that! Chef Nobu Matsuhisa is one of the most respected sushi chefs and fine dining restaurateurs in the world. I’m a fairly picky eater, but I resolved to try every one of the eight courses featured at the dinner. I loved them all. And it was finished off with a fresh strawberry dipped in a sweet green tea glaze. I was practically delirious from the elegance and luxury of the entire experience of the Four Seasons at Manele Bay on Lanai.
I missed the morning breakfast call at 7:30 and opted to relax on the Lanai before heading home. Work calls, always. But, somehow, I knew that when the resort reopens in the fall after renovations and improvements that are sure to enhance an already unforgettable experience, I’d be back to the Four Seasons at Manele Bay Lanai. And the Lodge at Koele, too.