Best Resorts in Hawaii – The Four Seasons Lanai – Part I
When my parents told my family that they were generously taking us to Hawaii for a week, I was so excited because after a couple of past visits to Oahu and Maui, I’ve been anxious to visit one or more of the other Hawaiian Islands. And naturally, because I’m well – you know – me, I decided that I would write a “Best Resorts in Hawaii” blog series.
So guess what? Air – water – road trip!!!!!
Why The Four Seasons Lanai?
First, The Four Seasons is one of the top resort brands in the world, and if there’s a Four Seasons where I travel, you can bet that I will tour and write about it.
Second, the story of The Four Seasons Lanai and the island as a whole was so interesting that I had to go.
One of the coolest and most unique aspects of the The Four Seasons Lanai is that there are actually two properties: The Four Seasons Lanai at Manele Bay and The Four Seasons, Lanai, The Lodge at Koele.
When I reached out to the Manele Bay resort to request a tour, I was told that both of the resorts were closed for enhancements through the end of November 2015. I had never heard of a luxury property like The Four Seasons closing entirely for so long, let alone two properties at the same time.
My interest piqued, I connected with an extremely friendly member of the Manele Bay marketing team, who explained the reasons for the closure, and I was fascinated.
It turns out that in 2012, Larry Ellison of Oracle fame purchased roughly 98% of Lanai (including both of The Four Seasons properties) and is making far-reaching and meaningful changes to the island. Enhancing and beautifying both of The Four Seasons properties is a critical part of his plan. Here is an outstanding article by The New York Times of Mr. Ellison’s purchase, but also includes a great deal of information on the history of the island, its history of pineapple harvesting, and its many former land owners. Here is another excellent piece by Forbes. I recommend reading both if you have a little time.
So, like all of The Four Seasons I have visited and toured, these two properties were exceedingly generous and kind, offering me a private tour of The Manele Bay property. I jumped at the chance!
How Do I Get There?
1) Getting to Lanai
Well, it depends where you’re staying. We took a ferry from Lahaina, Maui because that’s where we were staying, and because it’s only about a 45 minute one-way trip.
We took the ferry, which wasn’t too bad. The ocean was somewhat calm on the Maui to Lanai trip, but a little rougher on the return trip. Here are a few pictures of the ferry ride:
2) Getting to each of The Four Seasons Properties
This Google Maps link will make it easier to visualize the island and the position of the two Four Seasons properties.
You’ll notice that the Manele Bay property is at the south side of the island, which is where the ferry landing sits. But getting around is not easy. There are very few vehicles, and the only rental car locations are in town in Lanai City and at the Lanai Airport. So, you need to arrange transportation to pick you up from the ferry landing, which will then take you to Lanai City so you can rent a vehicle.
If you are staying at one of The Four Seasons properties, they will provide pickup service with a lovely Mercedes SUV. But because the resorts were closed, we needed to arrange for transportation to Lanai City; which is where my Four Seasons contact Kristina was set to pick me up for our tour. Here’s a picture, how great is that!
1) The Lodge at Koele
One of the most interesting parts of this massive undertaking is that The Lodge at Koele is being used to house approximately 100 of the approximately 300 workers who are on-site at the Manele Bay property. The Lodge is also serving as the temporary home of many of the Manele Bay property employees, such as my guide Kristina, the Social Media Manager for both properties.
An even cooler part is that every staff-member of both properties is being paid their full wages, receiving benefits, etc. while the Manele Bay property is undergoing its beautification. So, what do all of these staff-members do with no resort to work at? They volunteer in the stores, houses, community centers, and wherever else they are needed in Lanai! Amazing, right? Here’s a picture of one of the Manele Bay bartenders volunteering his time at a local art gallery in Lanai City:
But even though we couldn’t tour the Lodge at Koele, I really wanted to see it, so Kristina agreed to do a drive-by so I could snap a few photos: