Great Expectations 3-17-2006

After an upgrade, Four Seasons rebrands the Manele Bay

By: Marty Wentzel

When the Manele Bay Hotel opened in 1991, the luxury hotel symbolized the little island’s change in focus from pineapple production to tourism. Fifteen years later, Four Seasons has taken over management of the hotel, and devotees of the chain will likely give the island a try. Will the newly branded, 236-room Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay live up to the expectations of such a discriminating clientele?

Jennifer Hess, sales manager at the Four Seasons Manele Bay, said that each property in the international chain must meet certain standards, so the hotel has gone through a $15 million upgrade lasting almost a year. During Manele Bay’s renovations, the guestrooms were upgraded with Four Seasons beds and linens, L’Occitane bath amenities and 40-inch, flat-screen TVs.

The top-to-bottom room refurbishment has resulted in accommodations with Asian and tropical-inspired decor and subtle color schemes. As in any Four Seasons’ property, Manele Bay guests can now customize their room’s mini-bar prior to arrival, call for room service around the clock and stay connected via high-speed Internet access.

Just off the lobby, I found the hotel’s new fitness center, notable for its spectacular ocean views through floor-to-ceiling windows; a self-contained movement studio with shock-absorbing custom wood flooring; and air conditioning throughout, a must in any tropical climate. When I stepped in for a test run on a treadmill, a congenial employee immediately offered to help customize my workout, down to the channel I wanted to watch on my individual 15-inch LCD television with personal headset. The fitness center was stocked with complimentary water, fresh fruit and energy drinks, and guests can even borrow T-shirts and shorts if they forget their own.

Clients traveling with children can request complimentary in-room amenities for youngsters, like child-size bathrobes, alphabet bath sponges, babies’ and children’s toiletries and milk and cookies on arrival. Four Seasons also sweetened the hotel’s existing children’s program, Pilialoha Keiki Camp, by moving its headquarters from a single room to a bright, airy space spanning three guestrooms.

In Hulopoe Court, the hotel’s main restaurant, Four Seasons has enhanced breakfast by adding an elegant buffet. The Ocean Grill, serving casual lunches and fresh seafood dinners, has been added poolside.

Clients who like lazing on the sand can benefit from Four Seasons’ new beach concierge service. Staff members set up chairs and umbrellas, and supply ice water, chilled towels, Evian spritzes and sunglasses.

Meanwhile, Four Seasons had the good sense to preserve the Manele Bay’s best assets. The front entrance still wows arriving guests with ocean views across an expansive two-story lobby. The Hale Ahe Ahe lounge continues to invite sunset and evening socializing with pool tables, live music and ocean vistas. The Library has retained a cozy, classy ambience with dark leather chairs and literary classics. Gardens representing different Pacific cultures embrace small, private courtyards, and the Manele Spa lures tired travelers with 11 treatment rooms, outdoor massage areas and innovative therapies.

Along with the hotel’s structure and the services within, Manele Bay’s employees went through their own renovation, so to speak.

“We have trained the staff to do things the Four Seasons way, for consistency between properties,” Hess explained. “That’s the sort of thing that helps build guest loyalty.”

Clearly, Four Seasons has injected a new dose of luxury into the Manele Bay, a resort likely to please most any Four Seasons aficionado.


Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay

Nightly rates start at $395 per double.

A bed-and-breakfast package costs $430 per night.

The 4x4 Adventure from $630 lets clients choose one activity per day (four-night minimum).

Couples booking the romance package from $485 get daily buffet breakfast, a bottle of champagne, aromatherapy oils, floral petal spray on arrival, two keepsake bathrobes and a music CD (three-night minimum).