Blending a data-focused approach to health with lush surroundings, exquisite meals and awe-inspiring treatments, Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort, has mastered the art of living well.
The resort’s restaurant, Sensei by Nobu, is a collaboration between chef Nobu Matsuhisa and Sensei co-founder Dr. David Agus. The menu contains a mix of healthy and more decadent options.
There’s something about the Hawaiian Islands that just feels right. Warm, fragrant breezes; lush foliage and flowers; and even the omnipresent ukulele music that plays adds up to a deeply soothing experience that’s lured visitors to the middle of the Pacific Ocean for ages.
One destination that gets less attention than Maui or Oahu is the tiny island of Lanai. Previously the center of the world’s pineapple production, it was purchased by Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison in 2012. Since then, he’s been busy updating Lanai’s two luxury resorts—the beach-adjacent Four Seasons Resort Lanai and Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort, the latter of which recently underwent a major overhaul.
A wooden soaking tub is just one amenity in each of the 10 decked-out spa “hales,” or houses.
Located nearly 2,000 feet above sea level, Sensei Lanai is an adults-only paradise dedicated to all things well-being. A collaboration between Ellison and Sensei co-founder Dr. David Agus, the resort offers visitors a variety of packages, from room-only rates that include access to classes and activities to the new five-day Optimal Wellbeing Program, where a dedicated guide uses a data-driven approach to create a customized itinerary centered on health and longevity.
After a strenuous few months, I am absolutely giddy to try out the Optimal Wellbeing Program. My journey actually starts weeks before the trip when a Whoop—a techy band that records all sorts of health and sleep metrics—arrives at my door. I wear it leading up to and during my stay: The data gathered plays
a part in shaping my overall experience.
When I finally arrive to Sensei Lanai—after landing in Honolulu and a short, 25-minute transfer via a semiprivate Lanai Air plane—I’m struck by the gorgeous property. Not only is it bursting with lush foliage and elegant Cook pine trees, but there’s an assortment of striking sculptures woven into the landscape, including figural works by Botero in front of the plantation-style hotel, and a towering Jeff Koons piece in the high-ceilinged lobby. The property is dotted with works by many important artists—including several by Jaume Plensa and Robert Indiana—something that adds a extra layer of depth and discovery.
The resort’s natural beauty can be viewed from every angle, including from various walking paths that snake across the property.
In between relaxing in my beautifully appointed room (there are 96 on property), partaking in classes and a hike, relaxing by the pool, soaking in outdoor hot tubs nestled in the onsen garden, dining at the signature Sensei by Nobu all-day restaurant, visiting the sister beach property and enjoying an incredible spa treatment (more on that later), I meet with several experts to discuss my health and wellness intentions.
My first appointment is with my guide, Trevor, who pulls up the information I submitted before arrival in an impressive presentation. We go over my goals, and discuss how they relate to the Sensei Way: three fundamental paths including Move, Nourish and Rest. At Sensei Lanai—and I assume at other Sensei resorts that will open in the future, like Sensei Porcupine Creek in Rancho Mirage, Calif., set to debut this fall—so much revolves around these pillars. Movement and Rest are self-explanatory, while Nourish focuses on both food and activities that nourish the soul.
The airy lobby is the center of activity.
From there, he conducts a series of physical tests that will help guide my time at the property. This data will also appear in a Guide to Growth that’s sent after the trip. I have blood taken to test certain biomarkers, and those results are discussed in my next meeting with Marlee, a nutritionist on staff who I vibe with immediately. I walk her through my eating habits, and she comes up with subtle changes that can make a big difference.
The last expert I meet with is Skyler, who helps me determine the best workouts for my lifestyle. One thing she says will stick with me: Workouts don’t have to be full “meals” every time—they can also be “snacks,” or small 5- or 10-minute bursts of activity throughout the day, like jumping jacks. It’s such simple advice—I know I can follow it and integrate it into my busy schedule.
Sensei by Nobu at night
My most memorable experience by far is time spent at the spa, consisting of 10 small houses or “hales.” Each is equipped with infrared saunas, steam showers and onsen wooden tubs, plus an outdoor shower and soaking pools; I could have easily spent all day relaxing in the space. I am booked for a biomapping session that measures areas of heat in my body, followed by a massage. The biomapping gives my therapist insight into what areas need extra attention, leading to one of the best massages of my life. Post-treatment, I enjoy fruit and tea in the hale and make the most of the incredible facilities. One thing to note: Spa treatments only come with an extra 20 minutes of time to enjoy the hale. Definitely reserve extra time.
Besides the top-notch service and the beyond-gorgeous property, what sets Sensei Lanai apart is its astute attention to detail—and to data. While there, experts communicate with each other about you before each meeting, so your time is never wasted and you always feel cared for. Connection—to the caring guides, to nature, to the inspiring artwork, to the beautiful property and, most importantly, to yourself—is key, and lasts long after leaving.