Sign Up for Our Monthly Hawaii Newsletter
When clients hear that Four Seasons Resort Lanai has a Nobu restaurant, a boutique featuring the designs of Jimmy Choo and a minibar that’s stocked with snacks from Dean & DeLuca, they might assume it’s a U.S. mainland-style luxury hotel.
But once guests are on the property, there’s no doubt they’ll see the resort’s allegiance is to Lanai. Arriving clients don’t even have to step out of their vehicle to see ocean views from the porte cochere and hear the welcome blow from a conch shell. The hotel’s new layout favors open-air walkways, floor-to-ceiling windows or simply no windows at all. From decor to service, Four Seasons Lanai finds its muse in its milieu.
Formerly known as Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay, the property reopened in early February after a 3.5-year renovation, although the word “renovation” doesn’t do the project justice. Its multimillion-dollar transformation is immediately apparent in the lower lobby, previously defined by Asian-style furnishings. Now, it’s a breezy, light-filled space with rare artifacts from around the Pacific, most notably a 19th-century koa wood outrigger canoe facing the sea. Throughout the resort, al fresco corridors and courtyards display a compelling collection of art and sculpture reflecting Hawaii’s history, nature and lifestyle.
Likewise, the setting inspires the decor of the hotel’s 217 guestrooms and suites, from bed throws with a Polynesian kapa (barkcloth) design to original woodcuts by acclaimed Hawaii-based artist Dietrich Varez. Exclusive bath amenities and spa products are sourced from the oil of Lanai-grown kukui trees. Since this is a Four Seasons property, accommodations also come with cutting-edge perks such as push-button controls for shades, lights and temperatures; 75-inch televisions; and automated Toto toilets.
Each of the hotel’s restaurants capitalizes on its surroundings. One Forty, once a formal dining room, now looks simpler with natural woods and a retractable roof for dinners under the stars. Its breakfast buffet takes a cue from Hawaii with touches such as custom-blended fruit smoothies and made-to-order malasadas (Portuguese doughnuts), a local favorite.
At Nobu Lanai, there is literally no fourth wall, so diners can savor trendy Japanese cuisine with unhindered views of the resort grounds, which are illuminated by torches and moonlight. Malibu Farm, a poolside restaurant serving locally sourced ingredients, does away with walls altogether. Meanwhile, Views restaurant at Four Seasons’ Manele Golf Course boasts an outdoor dining area with 180-degree vistas from the edge of a cliff.
The hotel’s pool and environs have evolved into a spacious oasis with two swimming areas, one for all ages and another for adults only. The staff delivers personal water coolers to each set of lounge chairs, which are strategically arranged to maximize ocean views. A short walk leads to the marine sanctuary of Hulopoe Bay, where energetic attendants assist guests with beach chairs, towels, umbrellas and snorkel gear. Wild dolphins sometimes play in the bay.
While the resort’s rates target wealthy visitors, the staff is anything but pretentious. Instead, they epitomize the genuine hospitality of Lanai. The employees who hail from the island seem eager to share their home, while workers who have relocated to the 140-square-mile destination show enthusiasm for and knowledge of its culture. From shuttle drivers and housekeepers to the general manager, everyone is rightfully proud of this reinvented Four Seasons hotel, a perfect fit for Lanai.