|Photo by Freeimages.com/Azalea Whedbee|
by Mark O'Flaherty, The Daily Telegraph, May 26, 2016
The Four Seasons is the only five-star luxury resort on the smallest publicly accessible island in Hawaii, with big name high-end restaurant options, meticulous design and a sophisticated ambience.
The surf around some of Hawaii’s year-round sunny but rocky shores can make swimming treacherous. The sweep of white sand here at Hulopoe Beach is dreamy. This is also one of the less developed paradise islands (owned outright by Silicone Valley billionaire Larry Ellison), in the archipelago, and the better for it – great for horse riding and exploring off-road in a 4x4. The resort is 15 minutes from Lanai airport, a 30-minute flight from the hub of Honolulu.
Style & character 8/100
This is a heavyweight luxury resort that feels exclusive rather than sprawling. A lavish refurb has given a sleek twist to the tropical look, with immaculate pavilion-style buildings, acres of fine teak and mahogany, and museum-quality antiques from the Pacific region on display, including a beautiful koa outrigger canoe in the reception atrium. Instead of door keys, there are electronic rubber wristbands.
One significant change is the landscaping – the gardens now create secluded areas for lounging around a variety of pools and hot tubs. Things are serene here, at the edge of the ocean.
Service & facilities 6/100
Things can be a little patchy in the main restaurant, One Forty – breakfast room by day, grill restaurant by night. One order on my visit involved speaking to three different waiters, and still arrived wrong. Requests to speak to a sommelier were met with a bemused look. Elsewhere, service was good, and at times exemplary – particularly from reception and transfer staff. Service extends to the loungers down on the beach, although alcohol isn’t available on the sand, owing to state law.
The flaming torch-lit pools remain open 24 hours, although they are disappointingly shallow – a demand of the local authorities, with an eye to water conservation. There’s also a small spa, surfing, snorkelling and scuba diving. The 18-hole golf course was designed by Jack Nicklaus and has incredible views. The 12th hole tees off from a cliff 150 feet above the ocean - it’s such an impressive spot, Bill Gates got married here.
Furnishings are sympathetic to the jungle paradise motifs around the resort, but meticulous and state-of-the-art – more Tokyo tower hotel than tiki hut. There are Toto bidet toilets, bathroom televisions, and shower tiles that riff luxuriously, and cleverly, on rustic woven reed panels.
It’s almost too high tech: the lighting controls come, predictably, with a bewildering array of settings. The LED televisions might be the most extraordinary ever seen in a hotel room - all 75 wall-mounted inches of them. This being a Four Seasons, the beds are peerless in terms of comfort. Truly. No five-star hotel that I am aware of has a more luxurious product.
We offer a price guarantee on every hotel booking
Your passport to a better trip
Food & drink 8/100
Brand names matter: the daytime pool terrace restaurant recently morphed into a Malibu Farm, offering the kind of light, low-carb dishes that Angelinos love at the Californian original. There’s also a Nobu – with the same black cod it serves worldwide, along with superb toro, and whatever’s arrived fresh that day. Grapefruit on the rocks is a citrus vodka cocktail that you’ll want two or more of.
There’s also a sports bar serving snacks, and a solid menu of hand-cut steaks and freshly caught local fish at One Forty, the American steakhouse. The views from every dining spot, across the gardens and sea, are lush.
Value for money 7/100
Doubles from $1,075 (£745) per night. There are several deals available, including pay three, stay four nights. And if you pay for four nights in a suite, you receive $500 (£346) a day resort credit to spend during your stay ($150 [£104] if you book a standard room). Breakfast included. Free Wi-Fi.
Access for guests with disabilities?
Yes, although the atmosphere is less boisterous than many larger Hawaiian resorts, and there is an adults-only pool.
This article was written by Mark O'Flaherty from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.