Review: Lanai Golf Manele at Four Seasons

Wowed by Ocean Views on Every Hole
There are numerous ocean and waterfront golf courses around the world.  I haven’t played them all, but there are very few that I know of which have ocean views on every hole.  This factor alone makes Lanai Golf Manele a spectacular setting and back drop for playing golf.  But it isn’t the only factor that makes this such a special course.  Jack Nicklaus took advantage of the rugged cliffs and hillside setting to weave a truly special course that is playable for all skill levels.
The course is just a short ride from the hotel.  Once you arrive you can expect to be given exceptional treatment from the greeters and cart attendants to the starter and beverage cart girl; they will be kind, helpful and go out of their way to make it a great golfing experience.  Once you get things settled make sure to hit the range.  It will be important to try to shake off some jet-lag, but also because the range itself is wonderful;  ProV1 practice balls, club cleaning, multiple targets, and even a place to relax and chill while your buddy hits balls.  The short game area is also great to get ready for putting, chipping and bunker shots.  After a good amount of time on the range, the course beacons your arrival.  The 1st hole is good taste of the rest of the course: an easy forced carry, fairly wide fairways, deep bunkers and barely undulated greens.

The front 9 is the less dramatic of the two 9s because it is further away from the ocean.  Yet I still really enjoyed these holes for their variety of length and difficulty.  The 2nd hole is a very tough uphill, dogleg par 4.  I was happy to par it all 3 rounds, but the rest in my group really struggled on this hole.  The last 4 holes on the front 9 offer a great deal of risk and reward.  If you can bomb it you might be able to get some very easy looks at birdies, but a conservative approach should keep the big numbers away.  Hole 6 can use less than driver off the tee followed by a long downhill approach shot.  The 7th hole is a short enough par 5 to reach in 2, but the dogleg and danger to the right might have you seconded guessing that choice.  The 8th is a seemingly simple par 3 except the danger in front and bunker in the back makes yardage accuracy really important.  The closing hole for the front 9 has a rock ravine cutting through the fairway that shouldn’t be an issue with a good drive, but if you hit poor shot off the tee, this hole becomes a brute.  The 3(3s)-3(4s)-3 (5s) layout also works really well, even if it isn’t traditional

The back 9 is the most photogenic and really offers a good challenge to go with the scenery.  It is much longer than the front side and has a few more difficult holes, especially from the tips.  The 12th hole is the signature hole since it plays over the ocean to a “cliff-hanger” of a green.  If you turn around a look the other direction you see the equally stunning 17th hole.  Hole 13 is also an ocean hole that isn’t as dramatic, but still requires navigation around that big body of water on the left.  Another really great view is on the 16th green as you can see the 11th and 12th greens stacked up over the ocean.  The closing hole finishes with a “WOW” right in front of the clubhouse.  As you approach the green you can see Hulopoe Beach and Pue Pehe Rock.

The course is pristine from start to finish and challenges all the clubs in your bag.  The greens were super smooth and moderately paced and a little “un-Jack” like in that they weren’t overly undulated.  This also meant that some “traditional” advice like “everything breaks to the ocean”  didn’t apply here.  You will be hard pressed to find a more scenic layout since all 18 holes “wow” with ocean views.

For more information:

Quick Hits

+Incredible views
+Challenging layout
+Playable for all skill levels (from correct tee)
+Superb conditions
+Great range
+Excellent staff

18 Hole MiniGolf Course at FourSeasons Koele

Everyone has played mini golf on astroturf with windmills and clown’s mouths but how many real grass 18 mini-golf courses have you played with rough, sand and water hazards?  I’ve seen a couple but this is the first I’ve really played.  It is a fun experience for the whole family.  You don’t need to be a golfer to enjoy this experience.  It is about a 1/2 hour shuttle from Four Seasons Manele Bay up to Four Seasons Koele.  You will immediately notice the change in temperature, almost 10 degrees cooler.  That doesn’t damped the fun, just be aware so that the whole group enjoys playing real mini golf.  The holes offer great variety and it is best to get some floater golf balls from the front desk so that you don’t lose any ProV1s in the water hazard.  It is a relaxing atmosphere and can be accompanied by beverages from the bar for an afternoon of fun.

Cavendish Golf Course

How many free golf courses do you know of?  Cavendish is the only one I know of that is completely free to anyone; resort guest or Lanai resident.  It isn’t overly promoted by the resorts, since they have the incredible Lanai Golf Manele, but it is exactly what golf needs to grow the game.  The tees and fairways are playable, not great, but the ball sits up nicely paired with excellent greens.  The full 9 hole layout is a par 35, which offer enough challenge for an accomplished golfer, yet enough forgiveness for a beginning golfer.  It is right next to Four Seasons Koele. (that golf course is under renovation).  If you are a resort guest, it works best to start on hole 8 and finish on hole 7, even though locals will start on hole 1.  Since it is free, don’t expect starters, beverages or a cart, but you can bring your own of all those things and play as many holes as you’d like, in any order.  I applaud Four Seasons for their investment in Junior golf through the free programs they offer at Cavendish for locals as well as maintaining the course in general to help grown the game of golf.  It is a little secret of the island that everyone should take advantage of at least once. 

Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay

Exactly what a Hawaiian Resort Should Be
There are all different kinds of resorts around the world that cater to different clientele. When I envision going to Hawaii, I’m not looking for a party place, I’m not looking to meet someone, I’m not looking for hustle and bustle, but I want a high-end romantic setting that is relatively secluded yet filled with opportunities for adventures and exploration with my significant other.  The Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay is exactly that. It offers everything I want in a Hawaiian Vacation.

Even on the way to Lanai, it is clear how great this experience will be.  In Honolulu the Four Seasons Resort has their own private lounge.  It is filled with comfortable leather furniture, tasty snacks and they can even get you checked in to your room.  Arriving on the small island of Lanai requires a shuttle to the resort which is almost a 1/2 hour away.  Once you arrive you are greeted with a customary lei.  The newly renovated resort went all out in their features; one of the best and yet rather simple is the wrist-band key.  The silicone wrist band is comfortable to wear 24/7 and has a digital chip in it that allows you to open your room door.   This works great for enjoying the resort without worrying about your room key.

The rooms are as fancy and high-tech as any I’ve ever stayed in.  The sheer number of buttons to control everything in the room was almost overwhelming.  The 75″ TV takes up one whole wall, the power shades allow you enjoy the outside patio and the spa like bathroom had everyone talking.  The toliet was an experience all unto itself.  It opened automatically, had a heated seat, and activated a fan when in use.  The additional bidet features were controlled by a wall control that had a plethora of options.  The king beds were amazingly comfortable as well as the ample space and storage created a retreat like setting.

Outside of the rooms is a sprawling maze-like complex of buildings and corridors.  The lobby looked out on the pool area (which might be renovated soon) and then out to the beach.  There is some shopping; enough to fill a CC, but not so much that you won’t see your significant other until you leave.

There are 6 restaurant choices at the Four Seasons Lanai at Manele Bay: Forty One, Nobu, Kailani, Views, Sports Bar, or Room Service.  Each offers a wide variety of foods with their area of expertise.  Steak, Sushi, Italian, Island inspired, and Burgers and Beers will keep you satisfied for every meal.  A couple must haves is Taco Tuesday at Views, the Steak + Mac and Cheese at Forty One, the lamb at Kailani and the handmade donuts for desert.  A little chocolate creation for the room is tasty too.

The adventurous type will find things to do outside of the resort on Lanai as well. First make sure you start with a relaxing Spa treatment.  The local scents and techniques get you ready for exploring the island.  A short walk to Puu Pehe is a romantic destination for sunrise.  Renting a Jeep and exploring Garden of the Gods is a must, as well as Shipwreck Beach and if possible Munro Trail looked amazing (closed while I was there due to weather).   If you venture up into town there is some local shops to check out and you can head just a little further to Four Seasons Koele for horseback riding, tennis and ATVs.

If you’d rather stay at the resort, they offer snorkeling and paddle boarding at the beach, chair and umbrellas for guests, swimming with dolphins if you are in the water at the right time.

The Four Seasons Lanai at Manele Bay is the exact Hawaiian experience I was looking for. It offered a romantic getaway that was secluded, luxurious and adventurous.  The cost isn’t going to allow most to make this a yearly vacation, but if you are looking for a place to celebrate your wedding or anniversary, Four Seasons Lanai at Manele Bay is the perfect place. 

For more information:
Another good site:

Quick Hits
+Luxurious amenities
+Great food choices
+Beautiful scenery
+Adventures just outside the resort available
+Relaxing and beautiful beach
+Excellent Spa treatments