Aloha, Lanai: Four Seasons at Manele Bay

by Chris on February 8, 2011

A look at the Four Seasons, the chain’s Manele Bay hotel, where we stayed during the VisitLanai New Media Artist in Residence program.

Four Seasons Manele Bay Lanai

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.

Four Seasons at Manele Bay, Lanai

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.

Pool at Four Seasons Manele Bay, Lanai

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.

Four Seasons Manele Bay, Lanai

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.

Four Seasons at Manele Bay, Lanai

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.

Four Seasons at Manele Bay, Lanai

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.”

Mai tai, Four Seasons at Manele Bay, Lanai

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.

Four Seasons at Manele Bay, Lanai

Well manicured grounds are a hallmark of Four Seasons Resorts – and Manele Bay takes full advantage of the lush Hawaiian climate.

Four Seasons at Manele Bay, Lanai

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.

Four Seasons Manele Bay, Lanai

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.

Four Seasons at Manele Bay, Lanai

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.

Four Seasons at Manele Bay, Lanai

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.

Four Seasons at Manele Bay, Lanai

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!

Thanks to the Lana’i CVB for sponsoring me in the #VisitLanai New Media Artist-in-Residence program.

| Chris Gray Faust is a veteran journalist, travel expert, social media butterfly - and editrix of this site. Like what you read? Check out her writing, editing and social media services.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

The NVR Guys February 8, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Been there, done that, would do it again in a heart beat. The only thing better than the Four Seasons Manale – the Four Seasons Koele (in the NVR Guys not so humble opinions).


Chris February 8, 2011 at 5:44 pm

ooo, fight, fight! 🙂 I liked Koele too, and will be writing about that later. But I think of the two, I liked Manele Bay better….what can I say? I love the beach!


Charu June 17, 2011 at 8:12 am

Now I really want to visit Lanai. I went to Maui and The Big Island on my honeymoon, and never explored the “golf island.” So glad you got the chance to do this! Thanks too, for the lovely photos. If you’re in NYC, would love to meet one day.


kaye July 17, 2012 at 11:02 am

My husband and I attended the Int’l Barristers meetings in Lanai in 2011 and stayed at Manele Bay. We had a wonderful week; he loved the golf courses and we both enjoyed shopping in Lanai town. Vowed to return to stay at Koele Lodge, and I have reservations now to take a girlfriend in October. The two resorts each have a different “flavor” and my friend and I intend to go more casual and rent a jeep to explore the hinterlands of the island. Have visited the Big Island, Maui, Kawai, Oahu, and love them all, but if you want to get away to a truly quiet, serene tropical island, choose Lana’i!


Chris July 22, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Kaye – Thanks for writing in! I agree that Lanai is special, and different from the rest of the islands. It’s very quiet, but you can still have a great time. Enjoy your trip in October!


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