By { Beth Weitzman

Originally opened as a JW Marriott in 1993, the Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina is a relatively recent addition to the Four Seasons collection of hotels and resorts. After receiving an extensive renovation, the resort re-opened in 2016. From the moment you walk in and take in the awesome views, stress just melts away. Located on O’ahu’s serene leeward coast, with its picturesque mountains, vast valleys, lush landscaping and wide white beaches—only 30 minutes from Honolulu International Airport—the Four Seasons Resort Oahu is nestled in the 642-acre resort community of Ko Olina (meaning “place of joy”), alongside the Waianae mountain range. The serenity and beauty instantly land this place on your  must-return list. 

The royal history of Ko Olina dates back to the 1700s. As the story goes, King Ka’mehameha (1736-1819)—the ruler responsible for uniting all the Hawaiian Islands—and his wife, Queen Ka’ahumanu, spent their time bathing and fishing in the coastal ocean ponds. Ko Olina was also a frequent retreat for the last monarch of Hawaii, Queen Lili’uokalani (1838 -1917). The most pristine preserve of Ko Olina, Lanikuhonua (meaning “where heaven meets the earth”) is located adjacent to the Four Seasons Resort Oahu. Catch sight of humpback whales pec slapping, lobtailing, spouting water and breaching (December to May) as they make their way past the dynamic island’s west coast.

Staying at this five-star Pacific paradise is a totally joyful experience any time of year. Luxurious and light-filled, 315 guest rooms and 55 suites, decorated in modern Kama’aina style with local woods and banana-leaf headboards, feature the most comfortable beds, marble bathrooms, spacious private lanais and floor-to-ceiling windows offering panoramic views of the sugar-white beach, turquoise ocean, picturesque lagoons, vast green gardens and golden sunset. The full ocean-view rooms are truly epic. Even more so is the 17th-floor, two-bedroom penthouse suite with huge private terrace granting 360-degree ocean views and plenty of room for old friends and new. (The other hotel guests you meet also make the experience here extra special.)

Relaxation comes courtesy of separate adults-only and family pools (four in total); fine and casual dining at five on-site restaurants and bars; and a full menu of detoxifying, beautifying and healing treatments for mind, body and spirit at the multilevel Naupaka Spa & Wellness Centre. From sunrise yoga overlooking the beach to a sunset cruise out of nearby Ko Olina Marina, days are filled with aloha nui loa (“very much love”). 

The adults-only, infinity-edge pool is a great place to grab a cocktail, kick back and relax for the day, cooled by the ocean breeze and captivated views of the Pacific Ocean and Waianae mountain range. The view, which stretches along the rugged coast, is one of the most coveted in all of O’ahu. With state-of-the-art cabanas (available by reservation), chaise lounges and a full food and drink menu, it’s the place to be! Sunscreen is available at the pool concierge desk, and staffers come by with treats and an afternoon drink cart by always personable staff. The pool-side service is impeccable.

When it comes to dining options, a variety of culinary destinations await. The newest, Mina’s Fish House, offers James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Mina’s menu of sea-to-table fare, an inventive cocktail menu and expansive wine list. The raw and char-broiled shellfish menu (think lobster, crab, shrimp, Pacific oysters) is to die for. Seriously, the best king crab, anywhere. The raw bar offerings—kampachi crudo, ahi tartare and ginger-lime hamachi—melt in your mouth. Main courses that come from sea (specialties such as phyllo-crusted butterfish and miso black cod) and land (brick-pressed chicken, char-grilled certified Angus beef) are also divine. 

Right off the lobby is Hokulea Lounge, an open-air gathering spot with gorgoeus views of the sand and surf. Enjoy gourmet coffee and freshly squeezed juices in the a.m. and a special wine-by-the-glass menu, beer selections and pre-dinner drinks afternoon to sunset. 

Serving up three meals a day, La Hiki Kitchen shines a spotlight on Hawaiian fare and is also known for its steak nights. You can’t beat the expansive daily breakfast buffet and seriously decadent Saturday and Sunday brunch (11 a.m. – 2 p.m.). On the main lunch and dinner menu are specialties focused on family-style, island cuisine (with many items cured, smoked, aged, preserved, pickled or slow-cooked—all in keeping with Hawaiian hallmarks of cooking). The La Hiki Charcuterie Board and Maui Brewing Co. Beer Can Roasted Maili Moa Farm Chicken are not to be missed! For cocktails and a light lunch poolside, Waterman Bar & Grill is the place to go—its cool vintage vibe, menu brimming with flavors of the North Shore and well-mixed cocktails will have you chilling for a while.

A real culinary treat, Noe, (Chef Ryo Takatsuka brings the pedigree of two Michelin starred restaurants in Italy) offers a super chic, intimate, casually glamorous evening. Dine inside or, better yet, under the stars on the open patio. Coastal Southern Italian cuisine (Capri meets Oahu ambiance) centers on top-quality meats, homemade pastas and an unrivaled selection of Italian wines and unparalled service. 

Before or after your time spent at the pool or beach, the Naupaka Spa & Wellness Centre is a wonderful spot in which to relax and unwind. A full menu of facial and body treatments includes Hawaiian Healing Therapies, such as the NŌ KA OI (the best), complete with an invigorating sugar cane and coconut oil body scrub, hydrating coconut milk and aloe wrap, luxurious tropical hair and scalp treatment and lemongrass ginger lomilomi massage. Soashi face therapies include Samadara Ultimate Age-Defying Facial—a nourishing, hydrating and anti-aging treatment using ancient Ayurvedic healing traditions and natural healing energies. The 35,000-square-foot spa has full men’s and women’s facilities, steam, sauna, whirlpool, changing rooms and relaxation areas; 17 treatment rooms, plus three muliwai healing hales offering outdoor massage treatments in the garden; a 10,000-square-foot state-of-the-art health club; a men’s barbershop; and an elegant salon featuring guest appearances by celebrity stylist Billy Yamaguchi, known for his feng shui technique.

The Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina also recently debuted an exclusive after-hours spa and private stargazing experience, dubbed Spa Under the Stars ($1,200 per person, currently available with a 30 percent discount in a junior or one-bedroom suite if booked 14 days in advance; call 808.679.3200). The journey begins with a warm aloha greeting by a personal spa attendant. Guests then enjoy private access to the amenities at the Naupaka Spa & Wellness Centre, followed by a lomilomi massage in a candle-lit, oceanfront spa hale. It concludes with Champagne and a private Polynesian star voyaging experience led by Greg McCartney, a NASA Ambassador and professional astronomer, on the resort’s Ocean Lawn. 

Another unique experience is the Quest for Wholeness, a transformative 80 minute experience tailored to each guest’s needs for what the body and soul need to feel complete. The treatment is inspired by the Naupaka flower, a delicate half flower that blooms in Hawaii from mauka (mountain) to makai (ocean). When placed together, its blossoms form a perfect flower.

Adrenaline junkies will love high-speed luxury cruising on the resort’s all-new, 35-foot Sea Ray SLX 400, named The Entertainer (starting at $1,600 for a two-hour chartered tour). The seafaring adventure takes place on the leeward coast aboard the sport boat, which comes decked out with first-class amenities. In addition to a private swim terrace offering views of the Waianae mountain range, The Entertainer also features a seafaring dinner menu designed by Mina’s Fish House. Daily charters depart from Ko Olina Marina and offer a variety of bespoke packages for up to six guests. Options range from sunset cruises to full-day, half-day, and two-hour excursions, and each trip features a customized itinerary based on personal preferences (such as swimming, snorkeling or light fishing). 

Meanwhile, culture vultures will love the weekly series of programs and workshops dubbed #FSWayfinders, referring to the ocean navigation used by ancient Polynesians (who eventually discovered Hawaii). The Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina honors the distinct sense of place by weaving together traditions of the past with an occasional modern spin. Artisan workshops include bamboo wood carving, haku lei making, painting, lauhala weaving, Ni’ihau shell jewelry making and sarong dying—all with a local artist or artisan. A tennis center featuring a local pro and annual membership program and special privileges at Ko Olina Golf Club round out the offerings. 92-1001 Olani St., Kapolei, 808.679.0079,