Four Seasons Lanai Manele Bay, Hawaii: Luxury Hotel Review

Friday October 18, 2013 at 5:05 AM | 7 Comments

Four Seasons Lānaʻi, Manele Bay pool

Four Seasons Lānaʻi, Manele Bay hotel review

I can’t tell you how many times I have looked across the water from Maui and wondered about that “other island” in the distance. A few miles west of Maui, the island of Lānaʻi was once home to Hawaii’s largest pineapple plantation.

While the island no longer exports pineapple, it does support 3,000+ residents and three hotels. Two of the hotels are run by Four Seasons Resorts.

I had the pleasure of staying at both the Four Seasons Lodge at Ko’ele and Four Seasons Lānaʻi, Manele Bay in Hawaii as a guest of Lanai Visitors Bureau. Manele Bay, with its 236 hotel rooms is a five star resort. The hotel is divided into nine buildings. Five of the buildings are named after flowers and four buildings carry the names of fish.


Ocean front terrace room

I was staying in the Ginger wing, with lovely landscaped grounds and an ocean front terrace view on ground level. My room, #2503, rented for $759, depending on the season, and included a king bed, desk and chair, a lounge chair, with ottoman and patio furniture on the small terrace. A well manicured lawn unfurled in front of my room, which looked out to the Pacific ocean.

The bathroom featured a large combination bath and shower. One of the highlights walking into the bathroom; smelling the full-sized L’ Occitane French-milled soaps. Yes, I admit; my dirty clothes bag was filled with the scent of verbena from these natural soaps.

Manele Bay, waterfall

The grounds at Four Seasons Lanai, Manele Bay in Hawaii

Family-friendly Manele Bay

Having not yet adjusted to the California time change, I got up early one morning and caught a tender moment between a father and his new baby, watching the sun come up. While our children are now young adults, this precious scene immediately brought back fond memories of one of our kids staggering across the grass as she learned to walk in Hawaii.

Will Lānaʻi is certainly a popular island for celebrating weddings, babymoons and anniversaries, Lānaʻi at Manele Bay is very family-friendly with kid’s programs, kid’s menus and family-friendly hotel rooms.

Nine junior suites, with prime ocean front views, are family-friendly with king bed and sofa in room. For more value-oriented hotel rooms, ask for a garden terrace.

Hulopo'e Bay beach chairs

Hulopo’e Bay beach in Lanai, Hawaii

Hulopo’e beach at Manele Bay

Beach lovers will appreciate that Hulopo’e beach is only a five minute walk from the resort. Hotel guests can expect clean restrooms, ice water, snorkel equipment, beach chairs and towels available for their use at the beach.  You’ll want to wear sandals for the walk down the paved path -it can get hot on the feet!

Manele Bay pool valet

When you are ready to go into “pool mode” slather on some sunscreen – you remember those sun safety tips – and don’t forget to grab your sunglasses.  Then sit back in a lounge chair and order the Lychee Rose Sangria from the bar. Feel good knowing that your Hawaiian island cocktail is 100% sustainable, with all ingredients found within 100 miles of Lānaʻi. (I know it’s a stretch, but I’m doing my part to keep Lānaʻi eco-friendly.

Manele Bay Lana'i

Four Seasons Manele Bay resort, Lana’i, Hawaii

If a friend is headed down from the Challenge Clubhouse restaurant, ask them to bring you a ginger ice cream sandwich. Afterall, you are on vacation, aren’t you?

Eventually, Dr. Shades and Dr. Lotion  will stop by to wipe your sunglasses, tighten the screws, and offer a sunscreen refresh. Those of you who like to stay connected while on vacation, or make your friends jealous with Hawaiian holiday pictures, will appreciate the charging stations at the pool.

Spa at Four Seasons Manele Bay

If you love being outdoors and hearing the sound of the ocean, you’ll want to line up a massage in an ocean hale with the Spa at Manele Bay. This tented cabana offers individual and couples massages overlooking Hulopo’e Bay. Need I say more?

hotel room, Manele Bay

Ocean Front Terrace Four Seasons Resorts Lanai, Manele Bay

Manele Bay dining options

If you are a sushi lover, make a reservation for Nobu Lanai. Personally, I’m not a fan of raw fish, but I did love their tempura battered shrimp with mushrooms and the Wagyu beef was fantastic. Make your dinner reservation for sunset, but if you are a baby boomer, bring your mini flashlight with you…the dim overhead lighting makes menu reading difficult at night.

One Forty Steak House offered one of my favorite meals and the service was attentive without being over-whelming.  My sunset supper started off with an Asian Pear Salad ($18) with macadamia nuts, blue cheese, papaya, mango and whole grain mustard-honey dressing. If the Kahuku corn soup is on the menu, give it a go, with its subtle butter poached lobster, hint of lemon cream and baby basil. My main course was the American Wagyu Snake River Farms 7 oz. flat iron steak ($45.) I also ordered the green bean casserole with Hamakua mushrooms as a side dish. My eyes were bigger than my stomach when I ordered the chocolate souffle ($8) but the few bites that I managed were warm, rich and creamy.

Lychee sangria Four Seasons Manele Bay, Lana'i

Lychee sangria Four Seasons Manele Bay, Lana’i

Insider tip

I’m not a golfer, but I do enjoy good food and a scenic, ocean front dining experience. That’s exactly what I got when I ate lunch at the Challenge  at Manele Clubhouse. Order the drink of the day (strawberry lemonade on my visit) and if you are a seafood lover, you can’t go wrong with the Makai Salad or fish tacos.

For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter and follow @FSLanai on Twitter.

Check the website for package deals such as fourth night free.

Check in: 3:00 p.m.

Check out: 12:00 p.m.

If You Go

Four Seasons Lanai Manele Bay (808) 565-2000

One Manele Bay Road

Lānaʻi, Hawaii 96763

Article written by, video and photos courtesy of  Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. I was a guest of  Lānaʻi Visitors Bureau.

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The Lodge at Koele, Lānaʻi, Hawaii

Friday October 11, 2013 at 5:05 AM | 5 Comments

Four Seasons Lanai The Lodge at Ko'ele

Four Seasons Lana’i, The Lodge at Ko’ele review

As the shuttle turned into The Lodge at Ko’ele driveway, I couldn’t help notice the graceful Cook Island Pines flanking the path to the hotel, as well as the stately Norfolk Island Pine anchored to the right of the lodge; its roots dating back to 1875. The casual, yet elegant, upcountry setting of the lodge, with the signature pineapple gracing the front facade, gives a gentle nod to the Hawaiian island’s agricultural history.

The Lodge at Ko’ele gardens

Call me a California tree hugger, but I loved the nature surrounding The Lodge at Ko’ele. With acres of grounds to stroll, an orchid house, Japanese garden, pagoda, reflecting pond stocked with koi fish, an abundance of trees such as banyan, avocado, macadamia nut, mango and eucalyptus trees, to name a few, I was filled with calmness and serenity. I only wish I had more time to spend swaying in the hammocks.



lodge at Ko'ele Reflecting Pond

Lodge at Ko’ele Reflecting Pond

As is typical of my vacations, I didn’t get a chance to enjoy the outdoor swimming pool or either of the two hot tubs. I could have stayed on property and kept myself occupied with croquet, lawn bowling, golf at Ko’ele or on the putting course, or taken a spin class in the fitness center. Instead, I took advantage of the many things to see and do on Lanai and explored the island by UTV,(4-wheel Utility Terrain Vehicle), SUV and on horseback with the Paniolos (Hawaiian cowboys) at The Stables at Ko’ele.

Great hall premiere fireplace room

If you are splurging on a vacation at the Four Seasons Lānaʻi Lodge at Ko’ele, you might be, like me, celebrating a special occasion or wedding anniversary. I had the good fortune to land in a Great Hall Premiere Fireplace room on the second level of the two-story resort. The lodge is divided into two wings, the South Wing (rooms #200 and up) and the North Wing (rooms 300), with the great hall anchoring the hotel and ten rooms in this section. Don’t ask me to explain the math, as there are only 101 rooms at The Lodge at Ko’ele.

Great Hall Fireplace Room, Lodge at Ko'ele

Lodge at Ko’ele Great Hall Fireplace Room

My great hall room featured 560 square feet of living space, a sitting area, king bed, fireplace, work station, marble bathroom with combination bath and shower and a spacious balcony over-looking the croquet area. All rooms include twice-daily housekeeping, turndown service, safe and coffee maker. There’s also a DVD player in room and lending library downstairs, as well as an iHome alarm clock.

After a long day at the beach or getting dusty in the red clay soils, there’s nothing better than a soak in the deep bathtub with L’Occitane bath goodies. (Yes, I took my shampoo home with me!)

Lodge at Ko’ele dining

Lodge at Koele pool

Lodge at Ko’ele pool

Both mornings I dined at the 76 seat Terrace restaurant with views looking onto the swimming pool or reflecting pond. The egg breakfast with potatoes and a side of chicken mango sausage held me over until an early dinner.

My evening meal at Terrace began with Maui onion soup topped with Gruyere cheese ($14), followed with Hawaiian snapper, lobster risotto, baby fennel and crispy artichoke ($42.) Dessert lovers should save room for the Chocolate Dream Bar a layered chocolate mousse bar with marshmallow, candied peanuts, vanilla ice cream and finished with salty caramel sauce – I call this a Snickers bar on steroids (all desserts are $10).

 gardens "Four Seasons Lodge at Ko'ele"

Four Seasons Lodge at Ko’ele gardens

No resort fee at The Lodge at Ko’ele

I’m always floored when hotels boast of complimentary hi speed internet access or free, on-site parking and then hit guests with a daily resort fee upon checkout. I much prefer to have the costs built into the fees and not feel that I have been nickle and dimed on my vacation.

Hat tip goes to The Lodge at Ko’ele for offering complimentary internet service, daily arts and crafts exhibits, morning tea and coffee service in the lobby, valet parking, live nightly entertainment, a welcome toy for kids and 24-hour business center. It’s nice to be able to print your boarding pass without having to hand over your credit card or open your wallet.

Insider Tip

Lodge at Koele Fountain

Lodge at Ko’ele Fountain

If you happen to be staying at both Four Seasons properties on island the transition from one hotel to the other is seamless. Inter-hotel transportation is provided, your luggage is transferred on your behalf (you don’t even need to pack – they take your clothes from one closet and deliver them to the next, and you only need to check in at the initial hotel. Complimentary late checkout is possible, based on availability and early check in at Four Seasons Manele Bay is a possibility, again, based on availability. If only everything in life could be this easy.

For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter and Four Seasons Lānaʻi on Twitter @FSLanai.

If You Go:

Four Seasons The Lodge at Koele  (808) 565-4000

One Keomoku Highway, P.O. Box 631380, Lānaʻi City, Hawaii 96763

Article written by, video and photos courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. I was a guest of  Lānaʻi Visitors Bureau.

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What to Expect Houseboating on Lake Oroville, CA

Wednesday October 9, 2013 at 5:05 AM | 0 Comments

Lake Orville Marina

Houseboat vacation at Lake Oroville Marina

Does an ideal vacation on the water mean low-key relaxation in a comfortable environment, or taking on new challenges each day? A trip to Lake Oroville in Northern California for my wife and I revealed the perfect compromise for the lounger (she) and the boater (me): Houseboating.

Neither of us had ever been on a houseboat before, so we were excited as we made the three-hour drive northwest of the San Francisco Bay Area in May into the foothills of the Gold Country to Lake Oroville, about 20 miles east of the university town of Chico. Our destination was the Lake Oroville Marina, tucked into a narrow finger of the lake, which is a man-made reservoir carved into forested valleys. While the center of the lake is wide, much of the beauty can be found in the steep forested fingers and coves on the north and south areas of the lake.

Houseboats are clearly the lake’s reason to exist. As we puttered out to the main area of the lake, we saw a quirky array of houseboats, from the huge and fancy (one house boater, we were told, was landing a mini-helicopter on the roof until being told to stop) to the derelict. The overall feeling is family-focused, although I heard from the locals that it can get loud and crowded during the warm summer months.

Lake Oroville Houseboat

Lake Oroville Houseboat

It turns out that all you need to take command of a floating house up to 70 feet long and 25 feet wide is to be 21 years old and have the money to rent the boat. It does help to know the basics of boating and understand marine propulsion, electrical and plumbing systems, but all you really need is a driver’s license and a sizable damage deposit. Forever Resorts, which owns the houseboats on Lake Oroville, has produced easy-to-understand written materials and training videos on-line, and their employees will spend a goodly amount of time taking boaters through all the systems necessary to run a houseboat on the water, from the engines and motoring controls through the electrical system, powered by a bank of batteries big enough to power air conditioning, a full electric kitchen, super-sized entertainment center and enough electric plugs to power half a dozen hair driers.

After we arrived, the half a dozen people on our boat divided themselves into groups along fairly predictable lines: the boaters started opening hatches and electrical panels to see what they could learn before we took off; another group gathered around a cooler of beer and wine, and a third group commandeered the fully-equipped kitchen to whip up some snacks. We were getting off to a good start.

Switching from the helm of a 35-foot sailboat (my usual ride) to the helm of a 60-foot houseboat is like moving from a four-door sedan to an 18-wheeler. While I would not want to drive an 18-wheeler all the time, it can be an enjoyable challenge. Same with a houseboat. Our houseboat had four full staterooms, each with a queen-sized bed. The two upper cabins had windows, the two lower ones were more cave-like, perfect for kids or newlyweds, perhaps. The upper cabins also had satellite TV, a distraction for some and a necessity for others.  It was baseball season, so it came in handy.

The rest of the boat is about the size of your first apartment after college, but with nicer amenities, including the kitchen, full bathroom and another half-bath, large-screen TV, entertainment center and a combination living room, bar and dining room where everyone congregates for cooking, eating and parties.

houseboating lake oroville

What to expect on a houseboating vacation on Lake Orville

For a regular boater, leaving the slip and docking safely at the end of a cruise are the most challenging parts of the journey, but also the most fun. But the Forever Resort folks don’t want people banging up their boats so they drive the boats to a staging area and then hand them off to the customers. For my first time on this floating house, I must admit, that was a good idea. But once I was behind the wheel inching our way through the thicket of moored behemoths, it took me all of 10 minutes to figure out that a houseboat is a regular boat, except with a big weight problem. Slow and steady worked the trick; it is not a vehicle for speed-lovers.

Landing one for the night is another story.  Rule No. 1 in boating is not to let your boat hit the bottom. So it was disconcerting when our host pointed out a pretty meadow as a good location to spend the night and then headed directly for shore. As we got closer it became apparent that he was going to run it aground. Apparently this was standard operating procedure. I must have had my head buried in the electrical panel earlier when the instructor said these boats are specially made to land head-first and be tied to shore with stakes each night.  That turned out to be great because we could fish from the back of the boat or hop off the boat to hike, take photos or just relax on terra firma.

When I got back from a hike, the food group had already prepared the sundowners – cocktails in boater-speak —  and good smells wafted from the oven. As the sun set, quiet enveloped the little cove we were in, far away from it all in the forests of the Gold Country. Both the lounger and the boater had had their fill of an ideal vacation that first day.

We awoke in our comfortable queen bed to the low rumble of an engine making its way towards us. It was early, so that could mean only one thing: our fishing guide was arriving.

After a hearty breakfast of DIY omelets, we took turns trooping off two at a time with local fishing guide Ron Gandolfi. It never ceases to amaze me how important local knowledge is for successful fishing and I always hire a local guide to learn the water and what tackle works at any given time of the year.

fishing, Lake Oroville

Janice Fuhrman bass fishing at Lake Oroville

Lake Oroville is loaded with a wide variety of bass. It was voted #24 in the Bassmaster Magazine top 100 bass lakes in the country in 2013. I might have chosen to use the old standby crank bait for bass fishing in early summer, had I not met Gandolfi, who has fished these waters for over 20 years.He tied on a Senko lure, which looks like a big worm, for my wife and I and told us exactly where to cast. Bingo. We had about a dozen hits in 90 minutes and reeled in half a dozen nice sized spotted and one red eyed bass. Ron is sensitive to varying skill levels. He immediately caught on to my lousy fishing skills, but was careful not to make a fool of me in front of my wife; he also made my inexperienced wife feel like a tournament champion.

After we returned from the fishing trip, ate lunch onboard and took a spin in a motorboat rentable by the day to explore some of the nooks and crannies of the huge lake, I could tell my wife was wanting something. We had been so busy that we had failed to have any serious lounging time. So with a glass of wine in one hand and a book in the other, she took the steps up to the roof for some quiet time. The top level of our houseboat model was half-covered with a canopy and half open to the stars. And while we had no kids on our trip, it was easy to see how this level was built for them. A water slide and a wide-open space for roughhousing and sleeping outdoors would have been perfect for kids of most ages.

Our group was small enough to fit on the boat, but in exploring the lake that afternoon, we had seen something else that looked appealing, especially for a larger group: floating campgrounds. Built on floating pontoons, the two-story structures came equipped with a bathroom, outdoor kitchen, picnic-style dining table and plenty of room on an upper level to doze under the stars. These floating islands are hard to get during the summer months, so sign up way in advance if you are interested.

floating campground, Lake Orville

Don’t have a houseboat? Rent a floating campground on Lake Oroville

Lake Oroville is a reservoir, which means the water in it is owned by farmers and big cities (Read: the Central Valley and Los Angeles) and they, more than the needs of recreational visitors, control the lake level. Early in the spring the water is high, cold and close to the tree line. As the season wears on and farmers and lowlanders get thirsty, the lake level falls, exposing lots of rock. It can be a little disconcerting for the nature-loving purist to realize you are essentially in a man-made water catchment. But you get used to it, or forget about it as you are generally having too much fun. If you like high water, go in the spring; if you like warm water, go in the summer and early fall.

After two nights on the lake, we had to make our way back to the marina and head back to reality. I’d had my fix of boating and my wife had the chance to relax and enjoy the natural surroundings. It was truly a moveable feast.

Insider Tips

All of this comfort does not come cheaply. The smallest houseboat on Lake Oroville charters for about $600 per day, with the largest 70-footer going for more than $1,200 per day. There is some discounting for longer charters. Still, the 60-footer sleeps four couples very comfortably, with room for 3 or 4 kids sleeping in the living room’s fold out coach or in sleeping bags upstairs on the huge patio.

Another option: If you want to go more casually and pay less, Forever Resorts has an option they call a Patio Pontoon, like a houseboat without walls or bed rooms, which would work for a group wanting to party together and sleep outdoors on couches, floors or on the spacious upper deck.

Bring lots of things to burn on the grill. Each of the boats is equipped with a gas barbecue, and there is nothing more quintessentially American than burning a good steak on the barbecue while floating gently on a boat.

Bring toys. The houseboat acts like a home base, perfect for landing in a remote bay and launching all kinds of fun floating devices like noodles and floating lounge chairs. Lots of visitors bring ski boats or fishing skiffs and tie them up to the mothership when not in use.

Remember to leave time to do nothing. The lake itself is a great place to relax and enjoy nature, or sit on the spacious houseboat deck and read a long book. Or take a good nap in the warm summer air.

Pick your season. Spring and Fall are the best times for the most relaxing experience. Locals report that in the summertime the lake attracts boaters of all types. And the central lake can get pretty full of party boats and water-skiers. Obviously, holiday weekends are only for the young, restless, party-like-there-is-no-tomorrow types.

In addition to California, Forever Resorts has houseboats in Arizona, Missouri and Nevada. Their website has lots of details.

This is a guest post by Spencer A. Sherman who was a guest of Forever Resorts.

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