Review of Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay
Note: For more recent (2010) review, please see, Review Update: Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay.
After spending four nights at the Four Seasons Resort at Manele Bay, I hope to have the opportunity to return again someday. The resort has so much potential if they could only improve some service issues it could truly become top notch and live up to its five-star rating.
The resort’s location on Lanai’s remote, south shore makes the resort very special. It feels secluded and swank. The resort is perched on a bit of a cliff over looking the marine preserve of Hulopoe Bay where pods of spinner dolphins frequently visit and one of Lanai’s more famous landmarks, Puupehe (sweetheart rock). The scenery will not disappoint.
The Resort Grounds
The resort grounds are beautiful. Guest rooms were scattered among nine different buildings. (See this photo to get a better idea of how the resort is configured.) The guest room buildings were only two stories high and seemed to blend into the landscape as you can see from the above photo. Between each building were beautiful Oriental and Hawaiian themed gardens. Our room was located in one of the buildings that was furthermost from the lobby, but we didn’t mind the walk as we enjoyed the antique art and gardens scattered through out the resort. (Our walk to the lobby took less than five minutes.)
The pool was nice, but rather small for the size of the resort. I liked that there was an abundance of umbrellas at the pool and down by the beach. Occasionally pool staff would bring pineapple bits, cold lemonade and towels. The beach staff set up chairs and umbrellas and provided snorkel equipment.
Though we didn’t play any golf, we heard nothing but wonderful things about the golf course from other guests. We had lunch at the golf course club house and the view was amazing. We wished that they served dinner there.
In addition to the golf course, to keep in shape, the resort has tennis courts, a fitness center with a beautiful view of Hulopoe Bay, and hiking trails.
We had considered getting a massage at the spa, but when we saw the entrance to the spa, it didn’t seem inviting or special. The spa is located in the ground level of the lobby building. It seemed cramped and it didn’t offer any views.
Guest rooms are quite spacious. The bed was very comfortable with quality linens. All the mattresses were being replaced in September 2007. The marble baths had double sinks, a tub and and separate shower. We had a mini-bar that could be customized at check in. Each room has a lanai, but we didn’t spend much time there unfortunately because the furniture wasn’t that comfortable and design of the lanai prevented air circulation, so it was uncomfortably hot to sit there for long.
One big disappointment to us is that we booked a partial ocean front room. With a special offer we found, we could be upgraded if upgrades were available. We were supposedly upgraded to a ocean front room, however the primary view we had was of another guest wing. When we sat on the bed or in the club chair, our view was completely of the other guest building. We had to keep our shutters pulled the majority of the time. So beware if you are booking an ocean front room, it may not be what you’re expecting.
We had also clearly requested a second level room. We even called the hotel directly the day before arrival to confirm our reservation and request for a second level room. We were there the second week of September during a slower time, so the rooms should have been available. We were disappointed that our request was never acknowledged at check-in. We were so exhausted and jet lagged that we didn’t have the energy to complain.
The only restaurants in the area are located on the resort grounds. You can take a shuttle into Lanai City or over to the Four Seasons Resort at Koele for other options. Because of our brief stay, we ate all our meals at the resort. (Here is a link to the dining facilities.) Due to the limited dining options and how remote the resort is, the cost of meals was a bit on the expensive side.
We very much enjoyed the breakfast buffet at the Hulopoe Court. We aren’t normally fans of buffets, but this one impressed us very much. It was so clean and spacious. Several options changed daily so that you don’t get bored.
We also had dinner at Hulopoe Court. We had a lovely table overlooking on the open air terrace overlooking the bay. Everything we ordered was outstanding. The service was very attentive.
We had lunch and dinner at the Ocean Grill. The grill is located by the pool and and pool bar. The outdoor tables offered views of Hulopoe Bay. We had good lunch service, however the dinner service we experienced was not up to IHOP standards let alone Four Seasons standards. After we finished with our entrees, we waited for at least 20 minutes with our dirty plates sitting in front of us and empty beverage glasses while our waitress chatted with friends. No other wait staff seemed to care. Eventually a bar manager recognized our frustration and asked if he could offer any help. He insisted that we have a free desert, which was a kind gesture, but our dining experience for that evening was already ruined.
At times, service was tremendous. At other times, it was a big disappointment.
Turndown service was inconsistent. We only received turndown service one night of the three nights we wanted it. (Note: we made sure that the do not disturb indicator was not on the door when we wanted the service. We even left tips each time.)
Another significant service issue came from the concierge. She called and woke us up the night of arrival (and our jet lag) to tell us they had just tried to deliver a confirmation letter to our room, but we had a do not disturb sign on the door. Uh, hello! There was a reason the do not disturb sign was on the door! The concierge realized her error and apologized, but our slept was interrupted.
So, that’s my review of the resort. As you can tell, there were some outstanding aspects along with some fairly significant disappointments. Would I return there? Absolutely, but only if I find a good deal or until I can determine that service issues have been resolved.
I’ll add more thoughts on Lanai and getting around in the upcoming weeks. For other opinions, see what TripAdvisor members are saying about this resort.
Is Lanai worth a day trip?
Hi David – I think Lanai has some neat things to see and do that are different from Maui. The easiest way to get there from Maui is to take the Lanai Expeditions ferry which brings you to Manele Bay. From there, you can walk over to Hulopoe Bay and either snorkel (which might not be easy to do this time of year), sunbathe, and watch for spinner dolphins. You could also walk over to Puupehe (Sweetheart Rock). You could drop into the Four Season’s Resort for lunch. We loved having lunch up at the golf course club house. You can get a shuttle from the resort lobby up to the golf course. I believe that shuttle would be free.
Lanai City is a unique Hawaiian “city” with small shops and restaurants. When you arrive at Manele Bay, there will be a shuttle bus or van waiting there and I believe you can take that straight into Lanai City. There is probably a shuttle fee that applies.
Trilogy offers a few neat day trips to Lanai from Maui that are slightly on the pricey side, but relieves you of the planning and transfers.
Let me know if you end up going. I’d be interested in your experience.
I wasn’t sure what one could see without renting a car. I’d read one of your previous articles where you mentioned jeep rental was $139 a day. Toss in the fact it’s been raining here and you probably couldn’t get to too many places anyway.
I’ll check out the ferry. Thanks for the advice and suggestions.