Four Seasons Hualalai: As Expected.

Four Seasons Hualalai: Predictable: to be expected; unsurprising; formulaic…Would you consider this description a negative if I used it to describe a hotel or a guide or…

My recent visit to the Four Seasons Hualalai on the big Island was predictable. Our clients are all-encompassing enthusiasts of the brand, with good reason. Although, I have stayed multiple times at many Four Seasons, if I haven’t stayed at a particular resort, and a client wants to stay, we can confidently reserve knowing it will be predictable, ie very reliable. Excellent service, impressive dining, and superb service, over the top luxury, perfection.

Four Seasons Hualalai

Several decades ago, Four Seasons introduced a mission statement based on The Golden Rule: To treat others as we’d wish to be treated ourselves. This has never failed to impress me, and I see it practiced at all the Four Seasons Resorts I visit.

Hotels must practice and strive for brand perfection, something the Four Seasons takes very seriously. I hadn’t been to Hualalai in years and was greeted as if I had visited last week. Not everyone at these hotels knows me, it’s always a lovely surprise to be so warmly welcomed.

On landing, I had forgotten about the small outdoor luggage carousels, so unique that they still exist! A Four Seasons rep met me as I exited the plane, and we strolled a short distance to the casual outdoor baggage area. Bags collected and off to the resort –  mere minutes away through a black lava field. So close, yet you never hear any planes overhead.

The Four Seasons Hualalai is located on the Kona-Kohala coast of Hawaii Island. It’s a roughly 15-minute drive from Kona International Airport (KOA). It’s about a 20-minute drive to the town of Kona, But, why leave?  Entering the resort, the landscape quickly transforms to a lush tropical oasis of palms and red blossom hibiscus. Truly a tropical paradise, black lava shows itself in some locations, however this is truly a tropical retreat.

Surrounded by white-sand beaches and black-lava landscapes, Four Seasons Resort Hualalai is perfectly situated for all kinds of island adventures. The spirit of Hawaii, from its long-held traditions to its inspired art, informs every detail of this idyllic retreat.

The islands lack no shortage of five-star properties, many are tucked into ultra-touristed rows like a Las Vegas row of swanky hotels. Many things set this property apart from other hotels, the setting and location. The Four Seasons Hualalai has an incredible amount of coastline, and there’s a pathway along the entire beach. A quiet expansive ribbon of land.

Stop a moment, a lavish lei of orchids slipped over your head, a chilled hibiscus scented towel in hand, balanced with a frosty drink. Leave your busy world at the doorstep, the view of paradise is straight ahead: past the lawns, past the pools, the sparkling Pacific Ocean beckons. Room ready, yes – beautiful amenities in room – yes. Room explanation, perfect- I recently covered a room lamp with an ice bucket as I couldn’t figure out how to turn it off – plug was obscured by a massive desk…and no, it was not a Four Seasons!

Four Seasons Hualalai

The open-air reception area and most of the other public spaces are all traditional Polynesian spacious architecture, consisting of buildings no higher than two stories, maximizing indoor/outdoor living. Aside from the rooms, and since I never close my screens, I was rarely in a closed room, except for a spa treatment.

The property seems expansive and for one who gets lost at many resorts, it was compact and easy to navigate. This is an ideal family destination, as there’s something here for everyone, whether you want to swim, golf, tennis, hike – a long list of activities. Kids Club for the kiddos as well.

I stayed in an ocean view superior suite, which had a comfy living room, with a large couch that could be turned into a bed, to tuck in a kiddo if one tags along. Two bathrooms and a double lanai terrace overlooking a beautiful ancient pool, beneath soaring palms, and gigantic ferns – the water attracted dozens of dancing iridescent dragon flies. The resort is built on the site of an ancient Hawaiian fishing village and in the initial development, a historic Hawaiian trail and several anchialine pools were found. The hotel has gone to great lengths to preserve the pools. With an array of feathered birds pecking for brekkie crumbs and the wildlife below, I could have sat for hours.

If you’re game for the best the Four Seasons Hualalai has to offer and price isn’t a factor, the property has several private villas. The Ho`onanea Villa, can be configured as a two- or three-bedroom villa, is the perfect friend or family Villa. Spacious rooms, an enormous kitchen-living room space with floor-to-ceiling glass doors which open onto an expansive lanai with an outdoor table, fire pit, and plunge pool. There’s also an external staircase leading to a sundeck/outdoor living room perfect for whale watching or sipping sunset cocktails at the end of an afternoon. Although the villa is mere steps from the beach and is really in the heart of the resort, it feels very private. All the villas are quite special, one is located with views of the golf course and overlooking another Sacred Pond, a short trail leads to the edge of the pond, where two chairs sit side by side. Perfect for contemplation.

The adult pool has lodging surrounding it, pretty much dedicated adult rooms- the hotel is very observant at managing the guest ratio near the adult pool, something I truly love.

Pools- who has so many pool choices?!  A morning stroll along the beach path led me to count and photograph all the pools: The King’s Pond and King’s Pool. The Seashell Pool. The Palm Grove Pool. The Beach Tree Pool. The Lap Pool. And the final most expansive pool: The Ocean Pool!

One of my favorites was the King’s Pond, which is a 1.8 million gallon “aquarium” for swimming. I brought my underwater camera to catch the ancient manta ray in the pond. The pool is carved out of lava rock and has more than 1,000 tropical fish in it. The sandy bottom and multiple stairs for entering the pool, make it accessible to all. The Kumu Kai Marine Education Center is here, where you can learn more about the marine life, as well as join daily ray and fish feedings. Kiddos can hold sea horses in a small on land tank. I did photograph the ray, who apparently survived under piles of debris in the last big hurricane. King’s Pond is also surrounded by lounges and chairs for a quiet pool aquarium setting.

Villa Views – Contemplation

Activities – wow- something for everyone! A world class tennis club with 8 courts, a world-class 18-hole golf course, a four-lane lap pool, and I discovered a beachfront aquatic center where you can learn how to paddle a traditional canoe, try out a stand-up paddle board, or join a snorkeling adventure. The resort provides a cart over to this stretch of beach, but I walked to it along the long resort path. There are also night swims with Manta Rays in the ocean, I was a little afraid, my horoscope predicted: Do something different today, I did inquire – the trips were full- pagan girl prayers do work!

Golf – Crafted with sensitivity to its unique environment, this 18-hole, Jack Nicklaus-signature, championship course winds over 7,100 yards, beginning in a lush oasis, flowing across bright green fairways contoured against black lava, then returning to the ocean for the final hole. Exclusive Golf Experiences

The Spa is over the top fabulous, the Zen inspired tropical treatment rooms are indoor and outdoors. Gift shops are always supported by me- so easy to add to m y tropical wardrobe and a treasure trove of distinctive attire to be found! Clothing that can be worn at home as well as the resorts…

Dining – There are several on-site restaurants, including the casual open-air Beach Tree, set on the edge of the beach, white surf laps the beach…kids were playing in tide pools while parents dined.

The beachfront Ulu Ocean Grill with an adjacent sushi lounge, and the Hualalai Grille. Enjoy local seafood with flavors inspired by the Pacific rim, served steps away from the ocean surf and beneath a canopy of stars at our award-winning. Enjoy local seafood with flavors inspired by the Pacific rim, served steps away from the ocean surf and beneath a canopy of stars at the award-winning restaurant. The culinary philosophy is to begin with ingredients from the island and beyond – ensuring the freshest, most sustainable ingredients available. Working with over 160 local farms, approximately 75% of the food served is from the Island of Hawai’i, prepared oven roasted, flame grilled and wok fired – fusing the flavors of Hawaii with Pan-Asian techniques.

Off property unique experiences Blacksmith experience. Journey to a secluded coffee farm on the hills of Hualalai where the famed, Hawaii Island-born blacksmith Neil Kamimura forges his state-of-the-art specialty knives. After an initial consultation, assist Neil in creating a unique, personalized knife: forging, pounding and adding a custom handle to complete the one-of-a-kind chef’s knife to use in your kitchen, or to treasure as a piece of art. A chef by trade, Flora Kamimura, Neil’s wife, will create a custom lunch to enjoy between the efforts of constructing your creation. After your time spent with the knife master, return to the Resort, and receive a knife-skills cooking class with a tenured Resort chef, using your new creation for the first time.

Natural Pools View from my Suite

If Predictable Perfect Luxury is your Jam, then please ring me, as I Highly Recommend Four Seasons Hualalai!

Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort – Wellness Retreat

To keep the body in good health is a duty otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.     Buddha

Larry Ellison Ups the Spa Game in Lanai! Four Seasons and Sensei Retreats have formed a new partnership, a wellness company founded by Ellison and renowned oncologist and author David Angus. The Sensei philosophy is one that believes you meet your body where it’s at – that wellness is a journey and what you need now may be different than what you need in two years. For example, the Guides try to focus on developing routines and actions that are doable beyond your stay – this is not a ‘bootcamp’ – and the ability of the guides to connect with the practitioners and utilize the technology as they learn more about each guest really allows for a very tailored approach – maybe that manifests in a change in programming or simply a different way of looking at an aspect of one’s health – how the elements of rest, nourish and move are connected in ways one might not even consider!

Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort

Welcome to an ultra-all-inclusive wellness enclave on the secluded Hawaiian island of Lanai. Unmatched hospitality, reputable experts, natural beauty, luxury and choice combine to offer a completely customized experience. When Larry Ellison purchased the Island of Lanai in 2012 he had dreams of transforming the island and its old properties into a tropical haven, he has recently achieved both dreams. The authentic and charming Four Seasons Resort Lanai has wowed many of our clients and as of last fall, the new adults only wellness retreat opened. Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort is set in the interior of Lanai, surrounded by towering banyan and pine trees. I’m certain a heaping dose of tailored wellness would be welcome to all of us!

Always included is round-trip airfare from Honolulu on Lanai Air as well as private wellness consultations, spa treatments, unlimited fitness classes, yoga and meditation, dining by Nobu, and enriching island activities in pursuit of movement, nourishment and rest – all in a beautiful and luxurious Four Seasons setting.

Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort –

A new partnership with Sensei Retreats introduces a new concept in fully customizable, science-based programming for mind and body, including meals by Sensei by Nobu. Experience an ultra-all-inclusive wellness enclave on the secluded Hawaiian island of Lanai. Unmatched hospitality, reputable experts, luxury and choice combine to offer a completely customized experience and help you discover your greatest well-being.

An evidence-led approach to wellbeing focusses on three practices – movement, nourishment, and rest – which are connected and enriched by one another, helping guests get familiar and maintain a conversation with body and mind. These three practices are the basis for programming and integrating elements from all categories lead to a balance that is at the heart of the Sensei philosophy, as well as helping guests discover new patterns and experiences they can implement in their everyday lives on a consistent and ongoing basis.

Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort

From private spa hale to world-class cuisine, guest will enjoy a luxury of limitless choices including body treatments; personal training; group classes and lectures in yoga, meditation, fitness, nutrition, mindfulness, Hawaiian culture, art and enrichment, meditation and cultural immersion; and enriching activities on land and sea; all while experiencing the beauty of the secluded island of Lanai.

Customized programming by a Sensei Guide, each customized itinerary is prepared in advance in consultation with a dedicated Sensei Guide. Throughout, the experience is optimized utilizing technology – such as thermal body mapping and sleep analysis – along with coordinated input from the Sensei Guide and a team of on-site wellness practitioners to uncover opportunities for growth and enjoyment and adapt the program to individual guest needs.

At departure, guests leave with a review of learnings and suggestions to continue on a path of wellness once at home, including the option to check in with one’s Sensei Guide. This is a life enhancing program, not a one time visit spa and move on back into the rat race lifestyle!

Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort –

Don’t Miss Experiences: Two essential experiences at the Koele retreat are private guided sessions and Sensei featured experiences at the Spa. Guests have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with Sensei Guides, many of whom have Masters degrees in their fields of practice, for guided sessions in topics such as nutrition, fitness, mindfulness, stress management and yoga. Every session is fully personalized according to each guest’s intentions with offerings from a private cooking lesson to a personal Vinyasa class focused on building core strength or refining a challenging pose. The sessions complement the 10 to 16 daily scheduled classes and lectures led by trained wellness staff and visiting experts.  Three Sensei Featured Experiences showcase the key components of the philosophy, offered in the 1,000 square foot private hale.  Private spa hale are designed as individual sanctuaries, with treatment areas, indoor/outdoor showers, infrared saunas, Japanese ofuro bathtubs, private plunge pools and lounge areas; two hale also include watsu pools.

 “Move” is a two-hour treatment focused on the importance of mobility and movement, and features a segment on land or in a private pool where water shiatsu includes floating, rocking, cradling and stretching with the help of a trained therapist.  “Rest” takes the art of unwinding to a new level, beginning with a soothing, skin-nourishing bath and continuing through breath work, face and scalp stimulation, and finally, a transformative full body massage.  “Nourish” takes advantage of the Koele Retreat’s tropical location outdoors among bamboo and banyan, with massage oils and body wrap using local oils and extracts.

Dining at Sensei by Nobu Chef Nobu Matsuhisa has long been at the forefront of innovative cuisine grounded in Japanese sensibilities and clean ingredients. Guests of Sensei Lanai, will enjoy a wellness menu created by Chef Nobu and his team in close collaboration with Sensei’s nutritionists.  On the Sensei by Nobu menu are such Nobu favorites as the world-renowned black cod with miso, as well as a new selection inspired by the bounty of the steps-away Sensei Farm Lanai, and the neighboring islands and waters of Hawaii.

Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort

A look at a program: for example, one’s day might begin with a simple yet carefully prepared breakfast bowl featuring seasonal fruits and berries, or a traditional Japanese breakfast of baked fish, omelette, miso soup and condiments.  The lunch menu might include a fresh gazpacho with hydroponically farmed tomatoes, avocado and grilled shrimp from Kauai, while dinner choices range from fresh seafood and locally-raised meats to vegetarian options prepared in Chef Nobu’s signature style. Additional options also include the Koele Garden Bar, and private hale, poolside or 24/7 in-room dining is also available.

An island’s worth of recreational opportunities With 90,000 acres of nearly untouched wilderness ranging from pristine beaches to mountains, red lava cliffs and lush rainforests, Lanai is a playground for lovers of all things outdoors. Fresh air in pristine surroundings, sign me up, please!

At the Hotel’s sister property, the beachfront Four Seasons Resort Lanai, guests can avail of a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course as well as diving, snorkeling, fishing, sailing and other ocean-based water sports.

Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort

Beyond the two properties, Lanai City is a charming village within walking distance from Koele, highlighted by boutiques and galleries showcasing the creativity of island residents.  Also near the Hotel, Lanai Ranch at Koele offers horseback riding, there’s the Lanai Archery and Shooting Range, and the Adventure Park has ziplines and rope challenge courses. 

Sensei Guides can also arrange excursions further afield on foot or in a 4×4 off road vehicle, with tips on where to find the prettiest views, the secret beaches and the best spots for a picnic.

All the Details: retreat packages at the adults-only Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort include accommodations in 96 light-filled rooms and suites opening onto private balconies or lanai, newly decorated by Todd-Avery Lenahan of TAL-Studio, who also conceived the overall design of the Hotel.

Also included are flights from and to Honolulu aboard Lanai Air, and ground transportation to the Hotel as well as shuttles to Four Seasons Resort Lanai and Lanai City. The minimum stay is three nights while seven-night vacations are highly recommended to maximize the experience.

Truly an antidote to this current Covid-19 quarantine. Please be well and safe, we are here to help you design and curate the perfect Wellness Program when you emerge from your cocoon!

Begin the Wellness Journey Now.