Latest Lanai resort will focus on long-term wellness

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The former Lodge at Koele is reopening as the Four Seasons Hotel Lanai at Koele, A Sensei Retreat.
The former Lodge at Koele is reopening as the Four Seasons Hotel Lanai at Koele, A Sensei Retreat.
Tovin Lapan
Tovin Lapan

A new luxury property on Lanai with an array of wellness-focused offerings is scheduled to open Nov. 1, after more than four years of development.

The project is the latest addition to the accommodations offered on the island mostly owned by Larry Ellison, founder and CEO of Oracle. The property, amenities and programming are the result of a partnership between Sensei, a well-being company founded by Ellison and Dr. David Agus, and Four Seasons, the hospitality company that also operates the Four Seasons Resort Lanai by Hulopoe Bay. The Four Seasons Hotel Lanai at Koele, A Sensei Retreat will offer guests an immersive, health-focused experience including a dedicated concierge who develops a specific itinerary and suggestions for each guest.

"When you come to Lanai, you feel like you're home," said general manager Said Haykal of the island with a population of roughly 7,000. "The community is so close and so tight. With wellness retreats on Oahu, it's a little bit more touristy and busy. When you come to a wellness retreat you want serenity and you want peace, and here you have that quiet, that exclusivity when you are looking to get away. It's perfect for a wellness destination. When people come to Lanai, they know they are going to have a private, relaxing experience."

Formerly known as the Lodge at Koele, the property framed by a backdrop of Cook pines and banyan trees was one of the first hotels built on the island. It was closed after Ellison bought the vast majority of Lanai in 2012, and has undergone a total renovation including 16 new buildings.

The retreat is for guests and visitors 18 years of age and older, and a minimum three-night stay is required for bookings. There are 96 rooms total with four different layouts: standard accommodations, slightly larger deluxe rooms, one-bedroom suites and two specialty suites that can be up to two bedrooms.

"Sensei Guides" are in touch with each guest prior to arrival to craft an itinerary based on their interests and focus, while also drawing on guidance from the property's team of nutritionists, chefs, fitness experts and spa therapists.

"The guides have master's degrees and PhDs in nutrition and fitness  -- they are dedicated individuals who have mastered their craft," Haykal said. "There's a lot of proprietary technology that has not been announced yet, but for example we have a thermal body mapping system that takes a look at where someone is carrying tension in their body and indicates areas of focus."

Agus is founding CEO of USC's Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine and has written extensively on data-driven approaches to a healthier life. Eventually, Ellison and Agus plan to develop a global network of Sensei retreats that will feature highly personalized programming.  

"We didn't want a wellness retreat where you go and maybe feel healthier when you leave but the experience stops there," Haykal said. "Here we educate the guest so beyond just what happens on site so they can take it further and change their whole lifestyle to feel in a healthier place."

Guests are free to alter and adapt their itinerary upon arrival, and participate in a range of activities available, from horseback riding to clay shooting and archery. Wellness-focused activities include one-on-one training sessions and group classes, lectures, private immersive spa treatments and island excursions. The Hotel Lanai at Koele has also set up opportunities for guests to support and participate in community and philanthropic projects such as traditional Hawaiian fish pond restoration.

The completely revamped property includes a 24-hour fitness facility, two movement studios, yoga pavilion, outdoor yoga spaces, salon, outdoor pool with lap lanes, an outdoor sculpture garden, 18-hole short golf course, and an adventure park with ziplines and ropes course. The common spaces have been redone as well, including a more than 80-foot-long glass wall providing a panorama of the landscaped gardens. Additionally, there are eight Japanese-style onsen tubs fed by natural springs.

"We wanted it to be a very traditional Japanese onsen garden, and we totally reimagined the area," Haykal said. 'There's a river running through the garden, and it's a very unique feature for the property."

Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, who has one of his eponymous restaurants at the Four Seasons Resort Lanai, has created a brand new concept, Sensei by Nobu, for Koele. The menu, including products from an on-island sustainable farm growing unique varietals, includes a selection of breads made from quinoa.

"This is the first time Nobu has deviated from his traditional form, and this menu will be found nowhere else in the world," Haykal said. "It's completely customized for the property with collaboration from the Sensei nutritionist team. There's a mix of options, but there is an emphasis on healthier options and portion control. There's not as much rice as you'd find on a traditional Nobu menu."

The Hotel Lanai at Koele is now taking reservations for stays starting Nov. 1, and all-inclusive packages include accommodation, spa and wellness programming, meals and refreshments, selected island activities and interisland transfers between Honolulu and Lanai on Lanai Air.

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