Four Seasons Chooses Lanai for Its First Wellness Retreat

The luxury travel brand’s partnership with L.A.-based company Sensei makes for an unforgettable guest experience

In Partnership With FOUR SEASONS


Wellness resorts promising life-altering results and stunning transformations are a dime a dozen. But if feeling good is a fleeting sensation that departs upon checkout, is that true well-being? Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort — opened in December of last year — isn’t in the business of momentary lifestyle modification, though it certainly offers one of the most peaceful places on Earth to seek respite.



Here there’s zero forced marching or calorie counting, certainly not with a new-concept Nobu eatery as the luminous breakfast, lunch and dinner venue. Instead, this inaugural collaboration with Sensei’s co-founders, Larry Ellison and cancer specialist and author Dr. David Agus (of the forthcoming Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine at University of Southern California), is about laying a foundation for achievable, lasting change.

An adults-only, overwhelmingly Edenic space — thanks to sprawling gardens dotted with prolific sculptures, soothing nature-inspired guest rooms and soaring common spaces — this retreat inspires new habits and tendencies that are likely to endure. The friendly mentor leading each guest’s highly customized journey is a Sensei Guide, one of a dynamic bunch of physical, mental and spiritual training experts who make it a point to follow up one week, one month or even two months after a guest’s departure. The guides know that true metamorphosis doesn’t happen during a minimum three-night stay. But it can certainly begin.



At the core of the Sensei Way are three pillars: Move (interaction with the environment), Nourish (fuel) and Rest (recovery and growth). To Agus, fine-tuning and balancing these practices is critical to longevity. Before arrival, guests participate in an online questionnaire and introductory phone call; real talk about lifestyle, concerns, injuries, worries and more leads to the guide developing an itinerary for the individual.

On day one, an initial Sensei Guide encounter — in an airy, serene space outfitted with a full wall of flat-screen TVs, cutting-edge body composition technology and a wooden mobility testing contraption — lays the groundwork, which can be as rigorous or as laid-back as desired, with downtime to enjoy wandering the grounds, swimming in the sprawling saltwater pool, or soaking in Japanese onsen hot spring baths hidden amid tropical gardens.

There are a dozen or so group classes offered daily (outdoors or in vaulted-ceiling glass studios), such as meditations, walks, hikes into the koele (Hawaiian for “mist”), yoga, and sessions with names like Functional Fascia, Core 3-D and Getting Started With Self-Compassion. For deeper immersions, guests can opt for one-on-ones with the instructors, who have been enlisted from all around the world, from Israel to Venice, Calif.



This is a destination where all-inclusive actually means all-inclusive. There is zero nickel-and-diming when it comes to food (and this is Nobu Matsuhisa’s famed cuisine, remember, only a bit healthier and offered in customized meals and five-course dinners that are very “choose your own adventure,” with ingredients culled from the local seas and Sensei’s on-island biodynamic gardens), beverages (from Champagne to Japanese whisky), activities (such as the Adventure Park and whale-studded sunset sails), and one-on-one sessions and classes.

Perhaps most joyously, spa treatments are part of the deal, too — they’re technically unlimited, although subject to the availability of the 10 private spa hales, which are bastions of luxurious, Japanese-style calm, each equipped with a wooden ofuro tub, infrared sauna, two showers (one steam, one rainfall outside) and stone contrast pools.



Massage beds are utilized for the all-natural facials, hot wax body treatments and Sensei-developed thermal body mapping (a key ingredient for massages so targeted it would be impossible for even the most intuitive of therapists to imitate the effects). Two hales feature watsu pools, heated to match the body’s temperature for sublime aqua therapy.

In the moment, these experiences feel transcendent. But somehow even beyond the quiet island, it continues. The warm, attentive guides take notes throughout guests’ experiences and collaborate on a take-home Guide to Growth. Advice and tips, flavors and sensations linger, becoming indelible.

Feature image: Private spa hales at SENSAI LANAI, A FOUR SEASONS RESORT are nestled within botanical gardens and outdoor sculptures.


Feb. 27. 2020

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