Lenora Yuen, Senior Sales Manager for the Four Seasons resorts in Hawaii (Maui, Hualalai, Manele Bay and The Lodge at Koele), and probably my longest time and most favorite travel partner (we go back to Irvine in the 80s), sat down with me when I was in Hawaii a few weeks ago.   I asked her what was new with Four Seasons in Hawaii and about the differences between the resorts and how to choose which one to go to!    This post is part of our series on various Four Seasons hotels and resorts along the West Coast, and now Hawaii.
Josh: Lenora, this is the 3rd time I’ve stayed at the Four Seasons Maui at Wailea and I think it’s heaven on Earth.   For my partner and I, it’s the service levels, the location and the contemporary Asian feel.  Why is this place always so popular?
Lenora:   Thanks Josh…that’s really great praise coming from someone like yourself who’s travelled extensively around the world and stayed at many top hotels.  I feel our popularity in Maui can be attributed to our staff and their warm, personal and truly genuine way of taking care of guests.   In Hawaii we say “E Komo Mai”..which means “please come …we invite you into our home”.   We want our guests to relax and feel at home with us and we realize how precious your vacation time is.
Four Seasons Resort Maui has been fortunate to receive many awards and accolades over the years – we are the only AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Five Star Hotel on Maui and last year  #1 Luxury Resort in the USA on TripAdvisor…all because of direct guest feedback.    So many guests love to post on TripAdvisor or Facebook or tweet before, during and after their stay.   We’re really into social media at our Maui resort and I know of so many guests who have visited as a direct result of wonderful guest comments they’ve read online.
We’ve had some fun recognition lately as well…Maui was named one of the “Coolest Beach Resorts in the World” and Forbes selected our Serenity Pool cabanas as one of the top five in the World!    I’m sure you enjoyed the adults only Serenity Pool with the underwater music, cool bubble loungers,  swim up bar and an amazing view of the Pacific Ocean and West Maui mountains.   Two of our six luxury cabanas are new Missoni design by the acclaimed Italian fashion house.   They include a long list of luxuries such as an espresso machine, 42″ flat screen TV, Pellegrino waters, WI-FI, chilled towels, hourly pool treats and Veuve Clicquot to toast some truly lavish pool time!
Josh:  We’ve also stayed at the Four Seasons Hualalai on the Big Island which is totally different. The rooms there are very Hawaiian and it’s a much quieter, and much more spread out.  Is there one type of traveler who would prefer that over Maui, or Lanai which we haven’t spoken about yet?
Lenora:  Yes… our four resorts in Hawaii are on three Hawaiian islands – not only is each resort different but each island has a unique personality.  One of the advantages Four Seasons offers – you can  select your favorite or combine islands  and have a different experience all in the same vacation.
Maui is probably the most popular island and Four Seasons Maui is often described as “contemporary chic” but our enchanting Hualalai resort on the island of Hawaii is a luxurious sanctuary reminiscent of Hawaii’s Golden Age.
Hualalai was named as  Hawaii’s #1 Resort by Travel + Leisure and Conde Nast Magazine and also the #1 Spa in Hawaii.    The accommodations are in one and two story bungalow style buildings…grouped around a pool by the ocean.  Very different design than most hotels in Hawaii and the lower level rooms and suites offer an outdoor garden shower which is very popular especially with honeymooners!
Each grouping of bungalows is around a different pool – there’s Palm Grove -our new tranquility adult pool, Beachtree – an infinity edge pool centrally located, Seashell – more of our family pool and Kings Pond a very unique lava rock pool where guests can snorkel with 3,000 Hawaiian fish and an eagle ray!  We also feature a lap pool at The Sports Club & Spa and of course our biggest pool of all…the “Ocean Pool”…aka  the Pacific Ocean!
Hualalai also came out with a pretty cool new app – Huaka’i which means journey and it’s available as a free download in the ITunes store.
Josh:  I book a lot of honeymoons to the Four Seasons Hawaii. What special services do you offer to newlyweds?
Lenora:   All of our resorts are ideal for honeymooners as well as couples celebrating a special occasion such as an anniversary or birthday.  We recognize these guests with special welcome amenities and also have “romance” amenities that are often sent as a surprise gift by family and friends.  We can also arrange weddings (small and large) and vow renewals as well as private romantic dinners on the beach and couples spa treatments, picnics and many other fun activities.
Josh:  Tell me more about the 2 resorts on Lanai. And what’s the best way to get to Lanai in your opinion?
Lenora:   The island of Lana’i is really Hawaii’s best kept secret!  It’s a privately owned island, with only 3,000 residents and closest to Maui.  To me, the easiest way to get to Lana’i is by ferry from Lahaina, Maui.  It is run by Expeditions Ferry and operates 5 times a day each way – a short 45 minute crossing for $30. per person.  You can fly nonstop from many cities directly into Maui, then arrange a transfer to Lahaina, hop on the ferry and be enjoying a mai tai on the beach in no time!
The other way to get to Lana’i is on Island Air, a commuter airline that operates several flights a day from Honolulu.  It’s a good idea to combine Lana’i with a visit to another island and it makes the most sense to do so with Maui.    When people say “Hawaii has become too commercialized”…my suggestion is to go to Lana’i.   There’s no traffic lights, no commercialism whatsoever…no Starbucks but there’s the Blue Ginger Cafe!
We have two wonderful hotels on the island – Manele Bay which is an ocean paradise that sits above Hulopo’e Bay, a protected marine preserve with superb snorkeling and ocean activities…informal or as we say “barefoot luxury”.   Then a short 20 minutes in the cool central highlands of Lana’i, where the temperature dips 10 degrees we have the enchanting Lodge at Koele.  It’s the most idyllic, tranquil, untouched spot surrounded by wonderful gardens and spectacular scenery.
So you can see how different our 4 resorts are – Maui is contemporary chic, Hualalai is a sophisticated sanctuary, Manele is barefoot luxury and Koele is a relaxing hideaway.
Josh: What type of promotions will we see for 2012? Also, we have a Preferred Partner relationship with Four Seasons. What specific and exclusive benefits does that offer our clients in Hawaii?
Lenora:   Maui and Hualalai are offering a $1000 resort credit for suite bookings this year and Lana’i has a fun golf or 4×4 Adventure package.  I would suggest if anyone interested in staying to confirm their reservation through you as soon as possible for the best rates and availability.    Rates fluctuate so it’s always a good idea to grab the space when you see it before it slips away or the rate goes up as occupancy builds.
Guests who book through you receive exclusive Preferred Partner amenities – reserved for our top producing travel partners.  Your clients will enjoy daily breakfast for two (in the restaurant or room service), an $85. lunch credit and an upgrade to the next category if it’s available on arrival.   It’s a huge advantage that you don’t get by booking  direct or through any other channel!
Josh, thanks so much for giving me the opportunity to share with everyone all that we have to offer in Hawaii!  Mahalo nui loa!
To contact Lenora  with any questions or comments, please leave a comment by clicking the link above. 
Josh Friedman is a travel agent specializing in luxury travel for small groups and individuals – particularly ultra-luxury cruises, customized vacations and food & wine inspired journeys.  Based in San Francisco, and with clients throughout the USA and abroad, his business is focused on 24/7 personalized service to the sophisticated leisure and business traveler.  His personal  relationships with the world’s top hotels, cruise lines and local agencies often allows for exclusive amenities and VIP status. 
If you’d like to learn more about luxury travel and our services, please contact Josh Friedman Luxury Travel in San Francisco’s Financial District via phone at 415.987.0372  or email: josh [at] joshfriedmantravel [dot] com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, too.
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