By { Beth Weitzman

A quick 25-minute flight from Honolulu lies the island of Lanai, where verdant botanical gardens and waterways give way to breathtaking ocean vistas, and the Forbes Travel Guide five-star hotel, the Four Seasons Resort Lanai. This property—owned by Larry Ellison, the Oracle co-founder and Malibu resident who purchased 97 percent of the Hawaiian island in 2012—is serene and secluded, with 168 impeccably appointed guest rooms and 45 suites. All guest accommodations are situated in a series of low-rise buildings along the Pacific coastline, creating the feel of a private residential community and providing for the utmost in privacy. Previously a plantation that once produced up to 75 percent of the world’s pineapple supply, the cliffside resort originally opened in 1991 and has been managed by Four Seasons since 2005. The recent renovation, helmed by Todd-Avery Lenahan, founder and principal at TAL Studio, features rich materials, contemporary amenities and a mix of curated artwork from across Polynesia, Micronesia and Hawaii. Flawless service, plush accommodations, delicious and varied culinary options, and access to the beautiful and pristine island, makes for a truly unforgettable experience. 

The contemporary interior design is influenced by the tones and textures of the lush, rustic island with rich colors from the earth, sand and brush. Hawaiian touches can be found throughout the common spaces, including an authentic wasekaseka sperm whale-tooth necklace worn only by those of chiefly status; a mid-20th-century billum feather bag, often worn as a dance ornament during celebrations; a vintage Hawaiian ivory pikake blossom lei; and 19th-century Micronesian Gilbert Island shark-tooth swords. The large-scale architectural sculptures by Los Angeles-based clay artist Dora De Larios, which line the corridors, also embody the Hawaiian aesthetic. Wall coverings are all original woodcut designs by Hawaiian artist Dietrich Varez, and additional pieces include reproductions of pen-and-ink drawings by Don Blanding that reflect different aspects of Hawaiian life and legends.

The guest rooms also boast an exquisite Hawaiian influence and bevy of highly curated custom pieces. The bed throws, for instance, are modeled after an original 20th-century barkcloth design from Fiji. Meanwhile, the handmade, Nepalese Lokta wallpaper lines many of the rooms and suites, beautifully offset by deep brown, Honduran-mahogany floors accented with handwoven wool area rugs and live-edge wooden desks. The spacious bathrooms feature slate floors, teak-paneled walls, artisanal tiles and my absolute favorite amenity, a Dyson hairdryer. Another favorite is the in room iPad, offering the utmost convenience and access to everything, ranging from when you want housekeeping and turn down, to ordering room service, wake-up calls, spa services, daily activities, information about the island and more. A mobile version, the Four Seasons Mobile App, is downloadable allowing access via an  iPhone. In addition, a GPS web-enabled Lanai Guide app, created by the Lanai Culture and Heritage Center and Pulama Lanai, is awesome for  maps, trail guides, pictures as well as insights into native Hawaiian and plantation history on the island, including significant archaeological sites within a few minutes walk from the hotel. True luxury, as always, is found in the details, and Four Seasons Resort Lanai nails it. 

From sublime services at the spa to retail therapy in the elegant boutiques, the resort literally offers elements of surprise and moments of pleasure around every corner. A newly outfitted Pro Shop at the 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature Manele Golf Course is something special for golf enthusiasts. In addition to hitting balls on the Manele Golf Course or swatting them on three on-site tennis courts, guests can enjoy a plethora of opportunities for adventure such as horseback riding, whale-watching, hiking, scuba diving and adrenaline-pumping UTV guided Polaris off-road tours through the island’s majestic Ironwood forest. Don’t be surprised when you see deer prance right in front of you—it’s pretty spectacular. 

Fitness facilities offer a variety of classes from AntiGravity yoga (using slings for greater ease of movement) and Zen Horse Sunset Yoga (co-facilitated by a yoga instructor and an equestrian master) at Lanai Ranch at Koele to tai chi, wellness walks and meditation. Also something special is the hotel’s Hookipa complimentary cultural program, led by Lanai’s kupuna (elders), where guests are invited to participate in classes about the history of the island, to dance a hula, strum a ukulele, string leis and more. Adding to its already cultural-focused programming is its Love Lanai experiences, diving deeper into Lanai’s unique environment and cultural-historical legacy that spans nearly 1,000 years of Hawaiian residency and diverse cultural heritage. Through a variety of tours, demonstrations and cultural experiences, guests will be able to explore Lanai’s bio-cultural landscape, hear stories of its diverse history and learn about the history and wahi pana (storied and sacred places) across the island.

When it comes time for relaxing, the pool and beach beckon with five-star service to match. The adults-only, lagoon-style pool with private sanctuaries and cascading waterfalls is sheer bliss complete with whirlpools overlooking Hulopoe Bay. There’s also a central pool for those with kids in tow, offering splash time day to night. No trip to this private paradise is complete without some time lounging or walking on the beautiful sprawling beach. No matter if you opt for the pool or beach, attentive service includes Evian spritzes, chilled towels, frosty popsicles, sunglass cleaning, magazines, complimentary sunscreen, ice water and other surprises throughout the day. There’s even an option for poolside foot, neck, scalp and/or shoulder massages in an open ocean air sanctuary or lounge chair. It doesn’t get more Zen!

For full spa service, the Hawanawana Spa (the name is Hawaiian for “whispering ocean”) boasts eight treatment rooms and four couples’ suites, a eucalyptus steam room and a red-cedar dry sauna. Featured treatments incorporate ingredients and inspiration pulled from the ocean, and are customized for each guest, ensuring a fully soothed mind, body and spirit. From body massages, wraps and scrubs to a variety of facial treatments, plan to spend at least a half day here.  

Moments of leisure blend beautifully with the temptingly delicious fare served up at the resort’s four restaurants and lounge. Angelenos will enjoy finding that some of their local favorites have outposts here (thanks to the genius of Mr. Ellison). The decadence begins with the four-diamond AAA ocean-view restaurant One Forty, featuring succulent cuts of prime and wagyu beef, and super-fresh seasonal Hawaiian fish, complemented by traditional side dishes and an impressive wine list; Malibu Farm and Bar, featuring organic and local ingredients (most of the fruits and vegetables are plucked directly from the Malibu Farm Harvest Garden), overlooking Hulopoe Bay; and Nobu Lanai, a total gem featuring Japanese specialties from Chef Nobu Matsuhisa. Take a seat at the intimate sushi bar for hand-selected, fresh-caught fish. For an extra special treat, order the teppanyaki—an unforgettable 15-course private dining experience at the teppan table. Or savour the unforgettable Japanese cuisine on the  cliffside terrace, with the sight and sound of the Pacific Ocean setting an enchanted ambiance. VIEWS at Manele Golf Course features island-inspired fare; have a meal here even if golf isn’t your game. And speaking of games, the Sports Bar lounge, an open-air bar with table games and TVs galore, is a great place to enjoy a casual cocktail or two, and seriously good burger. Don’t miss the nightly cocktail class, where bartenders teach you how to mix up island favorites as you mingle with other guests. A great option for a grab-and-go breakfast, Kope serves a large selection of Hawaiian pressed coffees and fresh pastries, bagels, signature poi doughnuts and more. And room service is always a great option.

In ancient Hawaii, food preparation and partaking in meals was a sacred ritual—known as Ai Kapu—which imposed certain restrictions on the meal. In keeping with this tradition, the Four Seasons Resort Lanai is offering Aina Ahiahi, a new private dinner made in the spirit of ohana (joining families in their own homes for a family dinner). The set menu features dishes such as poi (taro steamed and prepared, regarded as the staple food of the Hawaiian diet), laulau (a portion of pork, beef or chicken with butterfish, wrapped in taro leaf then steamed in a bundle of ti-leaves) and ahi poke. On the horizon is a high-tech indoor hydroponic garden in which the resort will grow its own vegetables.

A trip to this island oasis isn’t complete without setting sail on the resort’s new 45-foot high-speed fishing boat, the Lani V. The luxury vessel features day beds and a pop-up shade forward and aft, and it can be booked for four-hour fishing or scuba diving excursions ($250 per person). Guests also can customize an experience on the ocean with a private charter on any boat in the resort fleet (the Lanai V. starts at $1,200 for a two-hour tour for up to six guests). 

When you plan your return trip, which is likely to happen before your departure, add a few more days to experience the highly anticipated opening of the Four Seasons Resort Lanai, The Lodge at Koele, which has been closed for renovations since January 2015. Scheduled for completion late this year, the $75 million project will completely reimagine the 25-acre resort, located northeast of Lanai City. With a focus on wellness, the updated resort will feature a new spa with treatment hales; fitness pavilions; a new pool and water workout area; and innovative wellness and fitness programming. 1 Manele Bay Road, Lanai City, 808.565.2000,