Just Got Back from a Hawaii Family Vacation in Lanai

The smallest publicly accessible inhabited island in the Hawaiian Islands chain and strikingly underdeveloped, Lanai feels like a remote island getaway, yet it’s only a 45-minute ferry ride from Maui. With few accommodation possibilities and 3,000 inhabitants, there are large stretches of the island without anyone on it. Translation: a family vacation in Lanai, Hawaii is truly an escape from urban life and chaos of any kind.

Lanai is exclusive to the extent that there are just four accommodation choices: two Four Seasons hotels, the 11-room Hotel Lanai, and a limited amount of camping. There may also be home rentals available in Lanai City.

If you follow Ciao Bambino you know we love family-friendly luxury hotels. Lanai has two Four Seasons Hotels within a 20-minute drive of one another. Pinch me. These two properties are radically different from one another and offer two very distinct ways to experience the beauty of Lanai.

Four Seasons Resort Hawaii Manele Bay

Looking back on Hulopo’e Bay and Four Seasons Resort at Manele Bay 

Lanai Family Vacation Part 1: Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay

Perched over a protected marine preserve, Hulopo’e Bay, the Four Seasons Resort at Manele Bay is a view-lovers dream. It’s not unusual to see Spinner Dolphins swim right into the bay for a morning respite or to watch whales breach in the distance. The dramatic position of the resort is pure magic.

Hulopo’e Bay

The pristine beach at Hulopo’e Bay has soft, white sand and calm surf (typically). The bay is protected and swimmers enjoy a huge expanse of open-ocean for laps, frolicking, and snorkeling.

Best of all for families, the set up is absolutely ideal for teaching younger kids to body surf. I’m not a big ocean swimmer but I couldn’t resist lingering in these waves.

Four Seasons Resort Manele Bay Shoreline Fishing

Shoreline fishing lesson on the beach 

The Four Seasons has beach chairs, umbrellas, and free snorkels for guests. Our 10-year-old, Devon, took a shoreline fishing lesson right on the beach from a local. Although they weren’t successful in catching fish, Devon had a blast learning about how Hawaiians fish and rely so heavily on the ocean as their food source.

The staff at the beach and the hotel overall includes many locals who grew up on Lanai. Part of the fun is chatting with them about their experience living through the years in this remote setting.

Four Seasons Resort Manele Bay Pool Services

Poolside pampering Four Seasons-style 

Four Seasons Pool Experience

The Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay has one pool for all of their guests and as a result the ambiance is very social. Four Seasons does pool service so well. Need sunscreen? No problem, Dr. Lotion will be around to provide a selection. Need your greasy sunglasses cleaned? No problem, Dr. Shades will be around to spray and wipe them for you — not to mention the constant flow of treats like fresh fruit offered throughout the day.

Four Seasons Resort Manele Bay Swimming Pool

Pool with a view at Four Seasons Resort Manele Bay 

We loved having the best of a pool and beach experience within such short proximity of one another. There’s a big grassy knoll with additional sun-beds and seating — although there is just one pool area, there’s plenty of room for guests to spread out.

Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay Resort Set Up

Opened in 1991 and managed by the Four Seasons since 2005, Manele Bay is a traditional multi-level hotel with 236 rooms and suites. The Silicon Valley software icon, Larry Ellison, purchased the entire island of Lanai in October 2012 and is making vast upgrades in record time to both properties.

Four Seasons Resort Manele Bay Lounge

A sign of what’s to come. The lounge has a new look! 

The main lounge and terrace is light and airy with floor-to-ceiling pool, ocean, and coastal views. Rescued tropical birds sit at both ends of the lounge. We loved stopping every morning to say “aloha” to the Cockatoo who would occasionally give us an answer.

Four Seasons Resort Manele Bay Sports Bar

The Sports Bar is a filled with families in the evening 

The indoor highlight for families is without-a-doubt The Sports Bar, an open-air space overlooking the ocean with pool tables, shuffleboard, a large bar, and seating with big screen televisions. During cocktail hour it’s filled with families. They also serve a light snack and meal menu with enough on it to have an informal dinner while playing games.

Guest rooms at Manele Bay feature traditional furnishings and either a private terrace or balcony. Our room opened up to an expansive lawn with wonderful coastal views. The rooms are in excellent condition but due for a style upgrade; thanks to the new owner, a plan to do just that is in the works.

Four Seasons Resort Manele Bay Hale

Oceanside Hale for spa treatments. No pre-recorded ocean sounds required 

Spa

There’s a full service spa offering a long list of treatments. A massage in one of their Oceanside Hales is a must-do experience while at Manele Bay. Full body pampering with a fresh breeze and the sound of the ocean in the background? An out-of-body experience.

Four Seasons Manele Bay Spa Services

Scent creation session in progress 

I indulged in a very special treatment when I was at Manele Bay where a trained esthetician created a signature perfume, just for me, comprised of high quality essential oils. I’m picky about fragrances and buy things I end up shelving all the time.

But this experience was different than shopping via random bottle sniffing. The esthetician asked questions and presented various scents in a methodical way until we arrived at a custom blend just for me. I’m wearing it … the session worked!

Four Seasons Manele Bay Kids for All Seasons

Complimentary Kids For All Seasons playroom 

Kids For All Seasons

There is a full Kids for All Seasons program here for ages 5-12. It is complimentary and easy to use as parents can drop kids off and pick them up at any time during club hours. It’s so nice not to have to plan out and schedule a kids club.

We only had the opportunity to do this for a few hours but the facility is full of games and toys. It is particularly optimized for little kids with a cute indoor/outdoor play zone.

Four Seasons Manele Bay Poolside Dining

Kailani offers poolside dining for lunch and dinner 

Dining Options at Manele Bay

There are four full-service restaurants onsite at Manele Bay including the restaurant at the golf clubhouse. Kailani is their poolside restaurant and offers Italian food using local ingredients. It’s casual and perfect with kids any time of day.

One Forty is a steakhouse with a more sophisticated modern atmosphere and ocean views. We didn’t have dinner here but enjoyed the space for breakfast each morning. And, best of all, Four Seasons Manele Bay is the first Four Seasons hotel anywhere in the world to host a Nobu restaurant! The space it occupies as been thoroughly renovated just for Chef Matsuhisa’s wondrous Lanai outlet and it does not disappoint.

We had dinner on cozy sofas overlooking the resort, a perfect way to have a long dinner with kids and not have them get restless.

Four Seasons Manele Bay Nobu

Lobster with Wasabi Pepper Sauce at Nobu Lanai, the first Nobu at a Four Seasons property 

A peek at our Nobu culinary extravaganza:

Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeno

Whitefish Sashimi with Dried Miso

Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna

Rock Shrimp Tempura with Creamy Spicy Sauce and Butter Ponzu

Lobster with Wasabi Pepper Sauce

Wagyu Beef Tartar

Wagyu Beef Tataki

Toro Scallion Roll

Soft Shell Crab Roll

Chocolate Bento Box with Green tea ice cream

A-m-a-z-i-n-g. And, if your kids are not adventurous eaters, they have a kids’ menu which must be a Nobu first.

Four Seasons Manele Bay Sweetheart Rock

Nearby Sweetheart Rock is a Lanai icon 

Jack Nicklaus-Designed Golf Course

We are not golfers but the Jack Nicklaus-designed course at Manele Bay is set right on the bluffs overlooking the ocean. I can’t imagine a more glorious setting for a golf game. Here’s a link to details for this top-rated course.

There’s a complimentary resort shuttles that runs every 30 minutes and goes to Lanai City and the Lodge at Koele. In 20-minutes guests can be in a an entirely different world. Stay tuned for the upcoming review of the Four Seasons Resort Lanai, Lodge at Koele Bay located 1,700 feet in a lush countryside setting above Manele Bay

Starting rates for a family of four at Manele Bay are $479 per night. The Ciao Bambino booking service can help you get the best room and rate. If you’d like our help, email info{at}ciaobambino.com.

Editorial Note: Four Seasons Resort at Manele Bay provided complimentary and discounted accommodations and services. As always, our opinions are our own. Photos by Amie O’Shaughnessy

Relevant Links:

Why vacation in Hawaii with kids?

Surfs up at Disney’s Aulani resort in Hawaii

A photo tour of Hawaii

2 Comments

  1. Great review Amie! Loved the one of the Lodge at Koele Bay as well. After visiting Maui many, many times I have wondered about staying on this small island as well. This Four Seasons review has me sold.

  2. Thanks for the kind words Dana. YES, totally go … Lanai offers something totally different than the other islands and of course, who can pass up a stay at not one, but two Four Seasons on the same small island? :)

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