While getting to Lānaʻi evokes the joy of the journey, staying there is even better. On this island of perfect balance, the open spaces and rugged trails are as approachable as they are spectacular, inviting exploration at any pace you choose. Seclusion and intimacy go hand in hand on Lānaʻi, and the comforts of home are never far away. With two luxury hotels – one in the uplands and the other at the beach – and an 11-room lodge between them, the island offers the full range of accommodations for the discerning and adventurous traveler.
The low-rise, 102-room Four Seasons Resort Lānaʻi, The Lodge at Kōʻele stands in the cool hills above Lānaʻi City, 1,700 feet above sea level, with views of unending pastures and sunsets that linger in the golden upland light. Some of the tallest and oldest Cook pines on the island surround the Lodge, imbuing it with a stately elegance and the flavor of an English manor. Shaded by banyan and eucalyptus trees, and jacarandas that dust the lawns lavender each spring, the Four Seasons Resort Lānaʻi, The Lodge at Kōʻele is a modern sanctuary on an island lost in time. You can play croquet along formal English gardens, sit in the whirlpool, lounge poolside, play an executive putting course, or sink into the plush, velvety-soft leather chairs in the library and watch the mists roll in from the uplands. Water fountains and quiet paths lead to gazebos and a greenhouse of orchids. A self-guided tour through tropical gardens leads to gardens of fragrant fruit, citrus groves, banana and taro.
Kōʻele was the focal point of the island's paniolo (cowboy) life in the early 1900s, when Hawaiians rode horseback to the tops of hills and green ridgelines and steep gulches appeared to them like magic. Today you can sit on the veranda of the Lodge and watch horses graze behind split-rail fences, in pastures that sprawl to the sunset. While horse-drawn carriages lumbered along the rough roads of Kōʻele 100 years ago, today fine dining, impeccable service, and luxury accommodations prevail.
The Great Hall, 35 feet in height, is flanked on each side by massive stone fireplaces. Sip afternoon tea or order from a special hot chocolate menu, and discover the Music Room with its grand piano and built-in audio equipment. Throughout The Lodge, chocolate eucalyptus floors, Oriental rugs, and walls stenciled with local flora impart a sense of place with a touch of the international.
The guest rooms at the Lodge have window seats, two-poster beds, and terraces looking out over English gardens. The Dining Room, with its rustic wood-burning fireplace, serves avant-garde dishes prepared with classic culinary techniques in a setting akin to an estate living room. The nearby Terrace restaurant serves casual American fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
For fitness-minded guests, two whirlpools, a pool and fitness room help melt away urban stress. Massage therapists offer an array of ancient and modern massage techniques, from Aromatherapy and Reflexology to the Hawaiian Lomi lomi.
Sporting clays, horseback riding, croquet, lawn bowling, tennis and executive putting are among the activities offered. The Experience at Kōʻele golf course, designed by Greg Norman and Ted Robinson, is a world-renowned 18-hole, par-72 mountain course with dramatic views and drops in elevation. The Experience at Kōʻele Clubhouse is a good luncheon spot for light American fare prepared with island influences.
Twenty minutes away, on Lānaʻi's south shore, the 21 suites and 215 guest room Four Seasons Resort Lānaʻi at Mānele Bay is the coastal counterpart to the Four Seasons Resort Lānaʻi, The Lodge at Kōʻele, set on the slopes above Hulopoʻe Bay. Guests are greeted with views of the bay, the island of Kahoʻolawe, and the island's southern coast. The luxurious guest rooms take full advantage of the lushly landscaped gardens and sweeping panoramas of the bay, where humpback whales cavort in the winter and spinner dolphins are seen frequently. Hulopoʻe is dotted with tide pools that invite exploration. A wide crescent of golden sand set between lava outcroppings, Hulopoʻe is a marine sanctuary, and there are park, picnic and camping facilities.
A graceful melding of Mediterranean, Asian, Polynesian and European architecture, the hotel has soaring ceilings in its lobby and wide terraces that bring in the ocean views. The Hawaiian roofline and open verandas and terraces give it the feeling of a grand kamaʻāina estate. Asian, European and Mediterranean artifacts, and modern and antique art by local artists are tastefully displayed throughout the hotel. Ponds, waterfalls and five ethnic gardens reflect the multicultural theme in a setting evocative of a gracious plantation home.
Breakfast and dinner are served in the Hulopoʻe Court, where guests can dine al fresco and enjoy Hawaiʻi Regional Cuisine over sweeping ocean views. The ʻIhilani Italian restaurant features an acclaimed Italian dining menu, served in an atmosphere of restrained elegance. For fresh local seafood with Asian influences, the Ocean Grill is a great bet for lunch or dinner.
A 5-minute shuttle ride from the hotel, the Challenge at Mānele Clubhouse offers casual and light fare for lunch and afternoon refreshment, plus some of the best views on the island. The island of Kahoʻolawe seems a stone's throw away, and Maui's Haleakalā towers in the distance. On a clear day, the peaks of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa greet the eyes from Hawaiʻi Island, and dolphins may be leaping in Hulopoʻe Bay below.
The Spa at the Four Seasons Resort Lānaʻi at Mānele Bay offers the full complement of services, with red cedar saunas and eucalyptus steam rooms, body and facial treatments, hairstyling, manicure and massage. Back facials, massage, body scrubs, reflexology, and tension relievers are among the services of the 6,000-square-foot spa.
Activities include tennis, water sports, and the 18-hole, par-72 Challenge at Mānele golf course, designed by Jack Nicklaus. Among the ocean views and dry seaside terrain you'll find some of the most challenging golf in Hawaiʻi, such as the 444-yard 17th hole, across cliffs and a narrow fairway.
Although only 9 miles from each other and equally luxurious, the Four Seasons Resort Lānaʻi, The Lodge at Kōʻele and Four Seasons Resort Lānaʻi at Mānele Bay are worlds apart in ambience, providing the best of both worlds.
Located on a tree-shaded knoll in Lānaʻi City between Mānele and Kōʻele, the island's oldest hotel, the 11-room Hotel Lānaʻi, has welcomed guests since 1923. Its wooden veranda, looking out through stands of Cook pines, has been the town's gathering place for several generations. The modestly priced country inn is also the site of the delightful Lānaʻi City Grille, whose menu of Pacific-fusion fare was designed by celebrated chef Bev Gannon of Maui. The excellent, Hawaiʻi regional cuisine is served in a rustic dining room with a fireplace, honey-colored wooden floors, and tables outdoors in the cool Lānaʻi air