Located on one of the less-developed paradise islands on the Hawaiian archipelago – the island is owned outright by Silicon Valley billionaire Larry Ellison – Lanai is all the better for it. While the surf around its rocky shores can make swimming treacherous away from the sweeping white sands of the hotel beach, the unspoiled island is ripe for exploration, and a spot of horseback riding or off-roading in a hotel 4x4 should not be missed. The hotel is 15 minutes from Lanai Airport, which is a short 30-minutes flight away from Honolulu.
Four Seasons Lanai has recently benefited from a lavish refurbishment, which has added a level of refinement to its stereotypical tropical décor. There are immaculate pavilion-style buildings, all teak and rich mahogany, along with antiques from the Pacific region – including the Hawaiian koa canoe in the reception. Instead of door keys, guests are handed electronic rubber wristbands as a means to ensure you'll always have access. This is smart, considering the amount of time you'll spend outside of your room swimming or on the beach. The landscaped gardens were also given an upgrade, with the creation of a secluded area for lounging around a variety of secret pools and hot tubs. They remain open 24-hours-a-day, lit by torchlight in the evenings.
As you'd expect from this particular luxury hotel chain, service arrives promptly comes with a smile. There's a small spa, with leisure facilities including snorkelling and scuba diving. The attached 18-hole golf course was designed by Jack Nicklaus and boasts incredible views of the island and the Pacific Ocean beyond. The 12th hole tees off from a cliff that's 150 feet above the ocean. In fact, Bill Gate was so impressed with the view that he got married there.
Lanai boasts some big name dining options. At night the daytime pool terrace turns into Malibu Farm, with the type of healthy, low-carb dishes that suit the tropical climate. There's also Nobu, with the same famous black cod it serves around the world. A sports bar sits alongside the golf course, and One Forty offers all day dining – international breakfast in the morning and American steakhouse fare come the night.
Rooms are designed with the tropical jungle aesthetic in mind. There's an emphasis on open-air living, and most rooms come with extra-large balconies and verandas. But the renovations also brought with them additional technology, and the Four Seasons Lanai seemingly boasts the same number of touchscreen panels and sensors as a high-tech Tokyo hotel room. Lighting controls have an array of settings, each television is of the 75-inch LED variety, and both can be monitored from the bathroom. As with all Four Seasons properties, there has been significant investment in the quality of the beds. They are almost unmatched in terms of comfort.
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While some may see the additional 30 minute trip (after the journey to Honolulu) as unnecessary given the quality of some other hotels on Hawaii's main island, the Four Seasons Lanai certainly makes a compelling argument for visiting its sandy shores. And if you're after total relaxation away from it all, there are not many better options in that patch of ocean.