One of Hawaii’s most low-key islands is also one of its best.
WRITTEN BY DARREN ELMS
Back in the 1920s the Dole Company turned Hawaii’s small island of Lanai into a giant pineapple plantation, supplying the world with the biggest share of the tropical export. When the crops were relocated elsewhere a few decades ago, the Maui-adjacent island looked to tourism to preserve its population.
That success rested in the hands of Four Seasons, which hosts two properties on the island. While The Lodge at Koele is expected to take a health-and-wellness approach in the coming years, the Four Seasons Resort Lanai reopened last year following a multimillion-dollar transformation under the guidance of majority property owner Larry Ellison.
Because no other significant resorts or hotels occupy Lanai, the Four Seasons can offer an experience not unlike a private island—where privacy and intimacy reign. In fact many of the island’s residents work for the resort in some capacity, making for a familiar and friendly vibe all around. Simpler times and an authentic Hawaiian lifestyle resonate here. No stoplights. No malls. No crazy crowds.
The 213 recently redesigned rooms and 47 suites feature an elegant touch and open to lush, botanical gardens at each turn. The brand new Hawanawana Spa pampers guests with unique treatments using sensory-rich local ingredients. In addition to a family-friendly pool, the adults-only retreat offers pools, a waterfall and lava rock grottos that echo Lanai’s iconic cliffs with stunning views of Hulopoe Bay.
And come to Lanai with an appetite. Top dining venues at the Four Seasons include the Asian inspirations of world-renowned NOBU, fresh and casual fare at outdoor Malibu Farm and both dinner and buffet delights at ONE FORTY.
Also recently launched at the resort is the new Lanai Adventure Center: a concierge service that sets guests up with Jeep rentals to panoramic vistas like the Garden of the Gods, UTVs, golf on the Jack Nicklaus Signature Manele Course, clay shooting, archery and horseback riding on picturesque trails. Don’t miss the sunset cruise off the nearby harbor, where guests can bring bottles of wine or beverage of choice for a romantic catamaran sail toward the setting sun.
Given the caliber of the service and amenities both on and off property, you may begin to feel like you own the island outright. Just don’t tell Larry.
Enjoy a direct flight to Oahu or Maui via LAX and jump on a quick island-hopper to Lanai for easy access. There’s also a ferry that departs Lahaina in Maui several times a day and only takes about 45 minutes.
Parents-to-be are catching on to this travel trend and enjoying a romantic, Zika-free escape before welcoming little keiki.