During my recent trip to Lanai, Hawaii we stayed at the Five Star Four Seasons Resort Lana’i at Manele Bay (View in Google Earth. What is Google Earth?) where each of the 249 suites average 700 square feet and feature private balconies, original artwork, and marble baths.
This hotel is expensive. The kind where if you have to ask how much, you probably don’t want to know. In fact, Maui Revealed says:
You’ll be forgiven if you start to wonder if Lana’i is the Hawaiian word for, “It costs how much”
So the question is, is it worth it?
The 4,000-sq. foot bayview suite runs $7,025 per night, but other rooms start at around $485. There seem to be a lot of reviews that claim the experience is well worth the price of admission:
- It’s got a 4.5 rating on TripAdvisor, and won a 2006 Travelers Choice award
- It’s #5 on Travel + Leisure’s Top 25 Hotels in Hawaii list
- It’s #70 on Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards 2007
- 4.5 Star rating on Yahoo Travel with excellent comments.
- Wedding Channel.com lists it among the Top 10 Hawaiian Hotels for Honeymooners
- #4 on Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards 2007
- 4 Stars from the Mobil Travel Guides 2007 Spa Awards
- #3 on Coastal Living’s Top 10 Golf Resorts
- Forbes’ Top Luxury Honeymoons
The Manele Bay resort is the only beach-front hotel on Lanai, and its terraced on red-lava cliffs overlooking the blue crescent of marine preserve Hulopoe Bay where dolphins often frolic. (I overheard other guests mentioning that they saw dolphins the first day we arrived.)
The buildings are surrounded by five lavish theme gardens that range from Hawaiian to Bromeliad. The entire property is dazzlingly beautiful, even at night when it’s lit by hundreds of gas lamps.
As a bonus the hotel completed a recent $50 Million renovation in 2005, so you can expect new furnishings – always nice with a hotel this expensive.
As far as food is concerned, I was impressed with the meals I had which included a breakfast buffet, a luau buffet, room service lunch, lunch at the grill by the pool, and dinner. In keeping with the theme of things being expensive, breakfast will run you $35 a head, but the food is fantastic. Seriously, I loved breakfast. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it is prepared better than the buffet at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.
Room service lunch is going to run around $35-40 per person, and so is lunch at the grill by the pool. In fact, every menu item is going to be $20-30 – even the appetisers. Dinner is going to run $60-100 per person, so seriously you don’t need to come here if you are going to care about meals running you $100-200 a pop.
For anyone that likes to work out, the fitness center is awesome. They offer a whole line of treadmills, free weights and machines, as well as another room for yoga, warmups, or whatever. The facility is always staffed and they have lots of water and towels in there.
Manele Bay is just plain beautiful. There is plenty of sand on the beach, and the water is extremely comfortable temperature-wise. The waves are moderately strong, but if you’re a decent swimmer it’s just fine. I wouldn’t let kids out there unsupervised though.
The walk down to the beach is pleasant and short. And best of all, you don’t need to take any towels because the hotel has a little cabana down there where you can pick up towels, shower off after being at the beach, and generally receive any of the service you need from the hotel. I didn’t try, but I’m sure you could have had drinks and food delivered.
Here is a generic little video I found on YouTube, but I like it because it has arial views of the hotel and surroundings:
A few other features:
- Many of the suites have lanais with premium ocean views and daybeds for lounging.
- You can also enjoy a freshwater pool, tennis courts and spa, and there’s a kids activity program.
- Dining options include the breakfast buffet at Hulupoe Court (absolutely fantastic) and romantic dinners on the open-air terrace at Ihilani Restaurant (the food was outstanding).
- Guests may also use the facilities at The Lodge at Koele. It has a completely different feel to it, more like an “old boys club” hunting lodge.
- Shuttles run back and forth between the two Four Seasons properties as well as “downtown” Lanai all day, every day.
Here is a link to all of the photos on Flickr tagged with Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay.
The operative words here are “attention to detail“. Everywhere you turn you notice rich detail around the hotel.
- There were chocolate-dipped pineapple slices in the room when we arrived. Plus, the 42″ Samsung plasma TV was running a relaxing Lanai activities kind of screensaver.
- There are bird feeders all over property stocked with seed. This means that everywhere you go you hear birds chirping and singing.
- Everyone calls you by name – the operator, the front desk, room service, …even housekeeping – and every single person pronounced Pozadzides correctly. Unbelievable!
- The staff always greets you when you walk by. Most of the time they stop, make eye contact, greet you and wait for you to pass by before they continue.
- Every staff member you deal with handles your issue and then asks if there is anything else they can help with.
- All morning wake-up calls are handled by a pleasant human. She calls you by name, asks if she can call back in 10 minutes, then proceeds to give you the weather forecast for the day.
- HUGE Koi fish inhabit all of the ponds. And when you walk up to the edge of one they come over to see you as if you were going to feed them.
- The newspaper is hung on the outside of the door in a nice woven Four Seasons bag every morning, presumably so that it doesn’t pick up bugs – and so you don’t have to bend over to pick it up.
- Slippers are left in the room for guests, and they leave small ones for the ladies and large ones for the men as opposed to one-size fits all. Of course, there are nice cotton robes as well.
I could go on and on, but the bottom line is that there is nothing ordinary anywhere. Everything is extra-ordinary. So by this measure it’s easy to see why the cost is the way it is. And in fact it begins to not seem so expensive when all of the details are taken into consideration. Indeed it is those details you are paying for.
Ok. Here is the part where I get into my standard hotel Q&A.
- Location: Without question, the best location on the Island. I wouldn’t want to stay anywhere else on Lanai.
- Cleanliness: Immaculate. Everything is immaculate.
- Staff: Possibly the finest staff I’ve ever encountered in a hotel.
- Bed: On par with Sheraton or Westin beds. Quite comfortable.
- Internet: Poor. It’s available, but slow. This might have something to do with being in the middle of the Pacific ocean.
- TV: Excellent. 42″ LCD in every room with at least 50 channels. Though I don’t know why you’d stay in your room.
- Size: Large. It’s not like a suite at the Venetian in Las Vegas, or at the Waldorf Astoria in New York, but it is certainly roomy and comfortable with a large balcony.
- Noise: The only noise is the sound of waterfalls rushing outside your door.
- Fully Enclosed: Yes, and very large. Seperate toilet, shower and tub, plus two sinks and a dressing mirror.
- Exhaust Fan: Yes.
- Shower head: Large rain pattern shower head was very nice.
- Lighting: Very good. Full room illumination or spot lighting over the large tub.
- My room had a real problem with ants. There were over 100 ants in my bathroom over the past three days. They are going to send an exterminator tomorrow, but still… it happened.
- I had major problems getting connected to the Internet. I called the help desk twice but they couldn’t help. Eventually it just started working. I hate Microsoft Vista, but it was on my new laptop and I didn’t have time to downgrade to XP yet.
- We had a little problem with the room safe, but an engineer was dispatched within minutes to take care of the problem.
- The air conditioning in the rooms is nearly imposible to control. It has one of those extremely old “Colder”, “Warmer” knobs along with a three speed fan setting. This means that you are always either too cold or too hot. They really need to update these rooms with digital A/C thermostats.
Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay
One Manele Bay Road
P.O. Box 631380
Lana’i City, Hawaii, U.S.A. 96763
Tel. 1 (808) 565-2000
Fax. 1 (808) 565-2483