The Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay is a luxury resort secluded on the small island of Lanai, offering top-rated dining, a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, and a pristine pool and spa. Known for its exceptional service (easily some of the best in Hawaii, it includes a 24-hour concierge, numerous beach and pool attendants, and twice-daily housekeeping), the resort is a favorite among honeymooners and has an impressive number of return clients considering its remote location -- getting there requires either a small plane or a ferry ride, and the hotel is 20 minutes from Lanai City. The on-site restaurants are pricey, and the fee for Wi-Fi seems a bit much, but a long list of freebies (everything from yoga classes to snorkel gear) help compensate.
Most guests come to the Four Seasons at Manele Bay in order to stay put, enjoy the scenery, and relax.
The highlight of this resort is probably its secluded location. At Manele Bay, the hotel sits along a white-sand beach that surrounds a marine reserve where dolphin and turtle sightings are the norm. The calm waters are great for snorkeling and swimming, and many guests do not feel a need to visit any other beaches. In fact, most guests rarely leave the resort, instead enjoying the pristine grounds and pool. The hotel attracts a large number of honeymooners, as well as return visitors who enjoy the peace and quiet the resort provides. More adventurous guests may prefer to stay on a larger island like Maui, where there are more activities and access to attractions is less complicated.
Originally a Sheraton, the Four Seasons took over the resort in 2005, transforming the hotel into a luxurious spot with loads of amenities. The lobby and rooms have an elegant and sophisticated vibe: Antique armoires, porcelain lamps and vases, and floral prints are plentiful, but some find the decor a bit dated. The decor also includes Asian touches, as do the grounds; a Chinese garden on-site provides a calm spot for relaxing.
At Manele Bay, a marine reserve on the small island of Lanai
The resort is located right by the ocean -- part of which is bordered by steep cliffs, the other part by white-sand beaches. The hotel is in a secluded location, about a 20-minute drive from Lanai City.
Known as Hawaii's "private island," Lanai is the sixth largest of the Hawaiian islands. Most of the island is privately owned, though virtually undeveloped, and traces of former pineapple fields can be seen from the air. The only town on the island, Lanai City offers a few outlets for entertainment, dining, and shopping, which are worth a trip via the hotel's free shuttle. A local history museum, art galleries, and quirky eateries are all located within walking distance of the drop-off point in town.
Traveling to the island can be difficult with limited flights available (and the airport services small aircraft only), so many visitors to the island chose to take the ferry from Maui, which is about a 45-minute trip. Driving around the island is difficult as well, as only a portion of the island's roads are paved.
25-minute drive to Lanai Airport
21-minute drive to Lanai City
23-minute drive to the Four Seasons Lanai, Lodge at Koele
45-minute ferry ride to Maui
45-minute drive to Shipwreck Beach, site of a WWII Navy vessel shipwreck
50-minute drive to the Garden of the Gods with lava boulders
1-hour and 30-minute drive to Kaunolu Village, site of temple ruins
Decent-size rooms feature elegant island decor and large marble bathrooms
Decorated in typical Four Seasons style, the rooms at the Manele Bay resort feature beige walls and beige carpets, highlighted by subtle pastels, florals, and island-inspired accents such as paintings of palm trees and pineapples carved into the wooden headboards. Everything from the lamps to the throw pillows are higher-end furnishings, but the decor may seem dated to some who are used to ultra-modern beach resorts. Large flat-screen TVs and iPod docks help keep the rooms from feeling dated.
All rooms feature large balconies or terraces with wicker furniture and views of either the garden or the ocean (or a little bit of both). Almost all of the 215 guest rooms are the same size (576 square feet), and upgrading to a higher category merely changes the view. Prime oceanfront rooms, however, not only feature ocean views but also add almost 200 square feet of space, and the most basic of the 21 suites starts at almost double the size of the standard room.
The marble bathrooms are huge, even in the standard rooms. All have separate glassed-in showers and soaking tubs along with spacious vanities. The toilet has a separate door for privacy.
Marble bathrooms have separate showers and tubs
40-inch flat-screen TVs with DVD players and iPod docks
A pristine pool with ocean views and attentive staff, a white-sand beach, a cliffside Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, and a spa
The Four Seasons' location is secluded, and many guests spend their entire vacation on the property, so it's a good thing that the offering of amenities is impressive. Highlights include a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course set atop cliffs overlooking the ocean; the white-sand beach that surrounds a marine preserve (which means the snorkeling is great, and dolphin sightings are frequent); and the pristine 24-hour pool where eager attendants offer guests water, fresh fruit, chilled towels, and Evian spritzes.
White-sand beach with calm waters and great snorkeling; the resort provides free snorkel gear, umbrellas, and lounge chairs
Pristine pool with poolside drink and food service, and eager attendants with fresh fruit, chilled towels, and Evian spritzes.
On-site putting green and Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, and a free shuttle to the Greg Norman-designed course at The Four Seasons Koele Lodge
Small fitness center with a studio that offers free daily classes (like Pilates, yoga, and spinning); also provides t-shirts, shorts, and tennis shoes
Spa with 11 treatment rooms (some al fresco), saunas, and a salon
Three tennis courts; use of racquets and balls is free, but use of the courts requires a fee
Lei and cooled towel upon arrival, and free beach tote for use during the stay
24-hour concierge and twice daily housekeeping
Guided tours of the hotel's art collection
Free valet parking and a free shuttle to Lanai City
Though particularly popular among honeymooners, the Four Seasons offers lots of family-friendly freebies.
Due to its secluded location, the resort sees more honeymooners than families, and the property (including the pool area) is often quiet and calm. But the hotel certainly does not discourage families; in fact, it does the opposite with a free kids' club, teen center, and special amenities for children.
Two tasty but expensive restaurants, and 24-hour room service
The Four Seasons at Manele Bay features two main restaurants. Hulopo'e Court has a beautiful view of the ocean and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner (breakfast includes an expansive buffet). The restaurant's focus is on fresh ingredients and catches, such as scallops and shrimp, but steak is also featured heavily on the menu. The restaurant has a kids' menu as well.
With its poolside location, Fresco is slightly more casual and serves lunch and dinner. There is also a poolside grill and a small menu at the golf course, and room service (complete with a kids menu) is available 24/7. Hale Ahe Ahe Lounge is a lobby lounge with an upscale sports bar vibe.
Perhaps because of its secluded location, the resort can get by with charging exorbitant prices. But those who venture to Lanai City can find plenty of gourmet meals with a lower price tag. The resort provides a free shuttle to Lanai City as well as the Four Seasons Lodge at Koele, where guests have access to the sister property's three restaurants and three bars.
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