going holoholo to lana`i (part 2 of 3): the four seasons resort at manele bay

It’s day two of my adventure on Lana‘i with gal pal Janet. This afternoon and evening we’ll be experiencing The Four Seasons Resort Lana‘i at Manele Bay, one of two luxury properties on “Hawai‘i’s Most Enticing Island.”

Prior to check-in, we take the hotel shuttle to the Challenge at Manele Bay golf clubhouse where we’re met by Head Golf Professional Emmett Markulis, who’s the only golf pro on the island. Emmett fires up a golf cart and takes us on a spin to see the course’s highlights, including the infamous and scenic 12th hole where Bill and Melinda Gates were married in 1996. We pause for a moment to take in the stunning view of sparkling turquoise Pacific Ocean and the neighboring island of Kaho‘olawe. Emmett highly recommends guests take time to play both courses on the island (the other one is at the Lodge at Koele). “They’re very different from one another,” Emmett says. “It’s two completely different experiences.”

And now the moment of truth. Janet, who’s a fabulous golfer, picks a club from Emmett’s bag and hits two great shots in a row. Emmett compliments her on her excellent swing. Now it’s my turn. (Gulp—I’m a total non-golfer). Janet selects a hybrid club for me. It’s got a huge head so I can’t miss, right? Wrong. I miss, and miss again. Finally, I make contact with the ball, and it goes into the weeds just below the hole. Game over.

After checking into the hotel and being escorted to our room by Anna Lyn, Janet and I head back to the lobby to check things out. A visit to the gift shop is mandatory, and we find it stocked with a nice selection of souvenirs, local products, sundries, jewelry, and resort fashions.

In the hotel’s lower lobby, we encounter Lana‘i artist Mike Carroll, who’s working on a painting at his easel. As a participant in the Four Seasons’ Artists in Residence Program, Mike sets up every Saturday so guests can get up close and personal with him and his work. Lured by the splendor of the Hawaiian Islands, Mike relocated from Chicago to Lana‘i to pursue his life-long passion for art and nature. His original oil paintings and prints celebrate Hawai‘i, and invite the viewer to explore her enchanting beauty.

Two of Mike’s paintings grace the walls of Manele Bay guestrooms: a Hulopo‘e Bay seascape (the resort overlooks this picturesque cove) and a yellow plumeria, the inspiration for which, Mike says, came from those found on the property. “I’m presented with ideas left and right on this beautiful island,” he tells us. “I can simply walk out my front door, and there’s a new painting to be created.”

Janet and I head back to our room to relax for awhile. I chill on our private lanai, which overlooks a lawn area and the vast ocean, and is outfitted with comfortable rustic wicker furniture. Inside, Janet checks out the room’s amenities. Our double beds have hand-carved pineapple two-poster headboards and luxurious down duvets and pillows; rich cherry and tropical rattan furnishings nicely complement Mike Carroll’s paintings. Then there’s the massive marble bathroom: lavish double vanity, deep soaking tub, separate walk-in shower, thick terry bathrobes, makeup mirror, and luscious L’Occitane bath and body products.

But all this will have to wait—it’s time for my massage! Spa receptionist Jennifer has me fill out the paperwork, then takes me on a quick tour. Soothing Zen-like music plays in the background while we view the nicely-appointed women’s locker and shower rooms. Decked out in a fluffy spa robe, I’m greeted in the waiting area by massage therapist River, who leads me to one of the resort’s two oceanside spa treatment hales. Inside are two massage tables, each embellished with an enormous cream and pink hibiscus.

There’s nothing quite like having a massage while being gently caressed by ocean breezes and listening to the sound of waves breaking on the shore. River tells me to “take a deep breath, let go of work, and sink into the table.” No problem. River’s soothing 50-minute custom massage focuses on my trouble spots, and he incorporates some lomi lomi techniques for good measure. River has been a massage therapist for 20 years, and it really shows. He’s extremely intuitive. He even gives me some advice on how to release the tension in my forearms that is a result of, guess what? Too much typing. This writer will happily take his advice when she returns home to Maui.

The 50 minutes is over way too soon, and I’ve been reduced to complete mush. Fortunately, River has lined up his associate Kino to lead me back to the spa. Wait a minute…do you think Kino can lead me back to my room also, so I don’t wander aimlessly searching for it?

While I was being pampered at the spa, Janet went on a walk to Pu‘u Pehe (Sweetheart Rock). A handy “Jogging & Hiking Routes” card in our room describes three scenic routes, all of which begin at the resort. Having both worked up an appetite for dinner, we clean up and head to Fresco, one of the resort’s two restaurants, which features contemporary Italian cuisine.

Located ocean- and poolside, seating at Fresco is under golden market umbrellas surrounded by blazing tiki torches. We’re really hungry, so we decide to share two antipasti and two pastas for starters. The butternut and Moloka‘i sweet potato soup is served with a dollop of sour cream in the bottom of the bowl, over which the soup is poured. It’s accompanied by savory black garlic focaccia. The soup has a wonderfully creamy texture, and the sour cream nicely balances the sweetness of the potatoes. The caprese salad features ripe, juicy Maui red and yellow heirloom tomatoes with burrata (an Italian cheese like mozzarella) and Lana‘i basil vinaigrette.

The house-made chicken and pistachio ravioli with carrot puree and prosecco butter sauce is garnished with shaved carrots for a fresh touch. Fettuccine with creamy carbonara sauce, pancetta, and grated grana padano is nicely enhanced with fresh ground pepper courtesy of Frankie, food and beverage assistant manager, who has stopped by to check on us.

After a palate cleanser of champagne with lemon sorbet, it’s time to dig into our entrees: Janet has selected the pan-seared local catch of the day (mahi mahi), while I’ve chosen the seasonal Hawaiian snapper. Janet’s mahi has a lovely crust, and it’s served atop a bed of sautéed spinach alongside a potato and leek galette and olive tapenade. Janet declares the tapenade to be divine. My snapper topped with a salmoriglio sauce (tomato and citrus) is accompanied by a superbly flavorful lobster risotto and a serving of caramelized fennel.

After devouring “pina colada soup” (mac nut cake, coconut ice cream, fruit compote, dried pineapple, and dark chocolate tuile) for dessert, Janet and I waddle back to our room and collapse in bed. We’ve opened the massive doors so we can hear the ocean and feel the fresh air while we wind down from a day of indulgence, Four Seasons style.

–heidi pool

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