I spent last week in Lana’i, Hawaii, as a “New Media Artist in Residence,” sponsored by the Lana’i Visitors Bureau. The program gave me a chance to explore all aspects of this tiny private island, and allowed me to stay at each of Lana’i's three hotels: Four Seasons at Manele Bay, Four Seasons Lodge at Koele and Hotel Lana’i.
My schedule called for beach time at Manele Bay first. I was excited to stay at the Four Seasons here, partially for the Microsoft geek factor (Bill Gates was married here in 1994) but mostly because Seattle’s winter weather had made me seriously deficient in Vitamin D.
Great resorts anticipate what you need, before you know you need it - and I found the Four Seasons at Manele Bay lived up to the standard. Evian spritz? Skewered fruit? Cucumber slices for your eyes? The pool concierge has you covered.
Perhaps because the price tag is on the higher end (rooms in the winter start at $375 per night), the Four Seasons does not attract a young crowd. Looking around the Oceanside Grill on our first night, I saw mostly couples in their late 30s and older, with a few families sprinkled in.
Afterward, we checked out the lounge bar. Full of dark corners, pool tables and plush chairs, the room seemed to draw people sneaking away from their kids. I have never seen so many couples in their 40s making out.
That’s not to say that there weren’t families. Of the two Four Seasons on Lana’i, Manele Bay seemed much more kid-friendly than the Lodge and many families congregated at the pool and the beach during the day. Still, you wouldn’t want your kids to get too rowdy; I saw one guy get up and move his beach chair away from a family of three. “I’m sure your kids are great,” he told the mom. “But I’m here to get away from mine.”
If there’s one downside to the Four Seasons, it’s that the food is on the expensive side. The breakfast buffet cost a breathtaking $30, and everything, including sodas, seemed to cost twice what you’d expect. I wouldn’t let this deter you from going, however; shuttles to Lana’i City run every 30 minutes and you can buy food and drink at the local groceries in town (rooms have refrigerators, perfect for storing poke from Lana’i Ohana Poke Market). We did find the Italian food at Hulopo‘e Court, the resort’s main dining room, worth the splurge. I had a fabulous pappardelle with veal and Don’s osso buco was delicious. And that mai tai was as good as it looks.
Well manicured grounds are a hallmark of Four Seasons Resorts – and Manele Bay takes full advantage of the lush Hawaiian climate.
My husband Don was in photographer heaven with his camera; he spent hours wandering the property checking out the different gardens. He particularly loved the Japanese one.
Meanwhile, I opted for a lomi lomi massage in a cabana overlooking the ocean. Hearing the waves and smelling the ocean while you’re getting a rubdown? It’s as awesome as it sounds.
That’s not to say that the nature isn’t allowed to do her thing. We saw whales surfacing in Hulopo‘e Bay over breakfast and later that day, Lana’i's famed spinner dolphins swam into the bay. I spent an hour in the water, watching them leap and frolic just a few hundred yards away.
The same attention to comfort that you find at the pool also takes place down at the beach. Snorkeling equipment and sand toys are available, as is lemonade and water on demand. Beach chairs and tables are set up for you, beach umbrellas are strategically placed, your lush towels are laid out just so. Forget your squeezed up tube of sunscreen in the room? No worries, there’s an attractive container of creamy 30 SPF at your disposal.
The service and amenities at a Four Seasons is what makes the price worthwhile; I honestly would go back in a heartbeat. What’s nice about the property is that you can also use the amenities at the Four Seasons Lodge at Koele, which has a totally different feel. I’ll tell you about that resort later!