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March 17, 2010

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WHERE'S JOHNNY JET?                    Manele Bay

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Aloha! Last week we left off from the island of Lanai, after checking out Lanai City and the Four Seasons Resort, The Lodge at Koele. As promised, this week I will tell you about Four Seasons' sister property, Manele Bay. It's completely different. Not only the look and feel, but the temperature! This is at sea level, not 1,700 feet up in the cool air of the mountains. Just like last week we have a separate trip report and slideshow.

Last week I told you all about not only The Lodge at Koele, but the island of Lanai as well, so you might want to read those stories before jumping into this one. Most guests who stay at the Lodge split their time between the Four Seasons' two properties. Koele's sister property is 1,700 feet down at Manele Bay. The transfer is easy, as they have shuttle buses operating every half hour. I didn't even have to touch my bags or pay a bill-everything was easily transferred.

The nine-mile drive between the two resorts takes only 20 minutes, but the changes in geography and temperature are dramatic. I went from wearing a sweater to donning a bathing suit in minutes. If I ever do it again, I won't check out of the Lodge too early. (This time I did it right after breakfast instead of waiting until noon, which is check-out time.) Then I would walk around Lanai City before hopping on the bus to Manele Bay, because when I arrived to Manele around 11:30 a.m. it was a mad house and no rooms were available. Everyone was checking out and there was a line at the front desk. It was the complete opposite experience of the Lodge.

Rooms aren't guaranteed until 3 p.m (like at most hotels), so I should've checked before cruising down the mountain. But I had work to do so it wasn't a big deal; I just grabbed my laptop and logged on to the Wi-Fi from a table in the Hale Ahe Ahe Lounge. It's a fun bar with a couple of pool tables and beautiful vistas. What's nice is the 24 hours of Internet I had paid for at the Lodge ($14.50) still worked over here. But keep in mind that just like the island's pace, the Internet on Lanai is slow.

The Four Seasons Resort Lana'i at Manele Bay has 236 rooms, double the size of Koele. Some of the staff are friendly, but not like up at the Lodge, where it's so intimate that they all remember your name. Also, when my room was ready the receptionist didn't take me there like at the Lodge. Here they just hand you your room key and send you on your way. It's kind of a maze, so this is one place where it would be nice to have someone hold your hand.

The rooms are generous in size, averaging 700 square feet (65 square meters), and all comfortably furnished with spacious bathrooms. They have typical Four Seasons bathroom amenities (L'Occitane products), a marble double-basin vanity, deep soaking tub, and separate glass-enclosed shower stall. The decor has a tropical theme and a custom two-poster headboard featuring a hand-carved pineapple motif (I learned it's the welcoming symbol of Lanai). I love the pillow coverings of dragonflies and pine trees. By far my favorite part was the private lanai. The first thing I did was grab a seat out there and call my friends in the northeast and say, Guess what? I'm sitting on my lanai in Lanai! They didn't think it was as cool as I did. I think they were just sick of the snow.

Note to Santa Claus: Please get me a Four Seasons bed, with their soft sheets and cloud like pillows. Actually, please don't, because if you do I won't ever want to leave my house and then I will have to change my name from Johnny Jet to Johnny Bed.

My room wasn't as soundproof as the one up at the Lodge, and this is a much more family-friendly resort. I only heard the kid next door cry once, so it wasn't a big deal, but if you are looking to escape the kids don't go during “ski week” or spring break like I did. The rooms have 40-inch LCD TVs, but I rarely turned mine on because the best entertainment is right outside your door. I could not believe my eyes as I kept seeing whales breaching or their spouts flaring up off in the distance. When the wild turkeys started roaming around the lush green backyard I felt like I was in an episode of Animal Kingdom. And that's before I even went down to the beach, where I saw the Spinner Dolphin signs warning that they frequent Hulopo'e Bay and not to swim when they are present. Not that they would hurt you, but they don't want them to be disturbed. I also heard that the marine reserve is home to green sea turtles, but I didn't see any of them.

Speaking of the beach, the water temp is a perfect 82 degrees (that's my guess). To get there from the lobby it's about a 300-yard walk down one of the resort's lushly landscaped paths. At the bottom is a desk set up with two cabana boys assisting and fetching beach chairs, umbrellas, towels, and snorkel gear. It's all complimentary, including an oversize dispenser of sunscreen and jugs of lemonade and sweet iced tea.

TIP: The best time to hit the beach is as the sun comes up around 6 a.m.-don't fight your jet lag, just go with it. I took a walk then and had the place to myself. It was so peaceful.

If you follow the path above the tidepools (be sure to stop off and admire the sea life), walk around the bend until you get to Sweetheart Rock. It's about a 10-to-15-minute mellow walk to the top of the cliff that overlooks the rocks and the island of Maui. It is a killer spot, so I wasn't surprised when I saw a “Will You Marry Me” sign made from stones.

The highlight of the hotel for me is the golf course. Before you set out to play a round, hit their clubhouse, which has the best views of the resort, to eat a fine casual lunch. I had coconut cantaloupe cold soup (it's more like a smoothie), then chicken tacos (I subbed the fish) and a chocolate brownie.

The Challenge at Manele is one of the country's most spectacular golf courses. You don't believe me? If it wasn't so insanely beautiful, do you think that Bill Gates would have gotten married on the 12th hole green, 150 feet above the Pacific Ocean? Yeah, that's what I thought-now I caught your attention. If the place is good enough for one of the richest men in the world, then it's good enough for me. The course is built on lava outcroppings and features three holes on the cliffs that use the Pacific Ocean as a water hazard. It's called the “challenge” because the five-tee concept challenges the best golfers. It was designed by no other than Jack Nicklaus. Maybe you've heard of him?

Here's some info on the course:

• Par & Yardage: 18 holes / Par 72 / 7,039 Yards
• Rating: 73.7 (back) / 70.4 (middle) / 68.3 (forward) / 68.8 (women)
• Slope: 135 (back) / 126 (middle) /123 (forward) / 119 (women)
• Pace of play: Approximately four hours (with relaxed, 10-minute start intervals)

What's nice about playing golf there is that they take care of everything. You can rent clubs and shoes, like I did, and they provide complimentary sunscreen, bottled water, and chilled towels, and the golf carts have GPS systems so you know how far from the pin you are, where the other golfers are, and can even order lunch as you approach the clubhouse. Brilliant!

You can't play golf and not get a massage. The best is to do both, but I have a feeling most men play golf while their wives hit the spa. Don't quote me on that-it's just a hunch. I signed up for a 50-minute Lomi Lomi massage in one of their two Ocean Hale treatment rooms. They are little open-air, silk-draped cabanas overlooking the Pacific. My masseuse, Lizabeth, was a little Haole girl, but she had strong hands and techniques that made her one of the best I've ever had. Besides that, any woman who massages my hips and butt the way she did is a champ. She knew the answer to every question I asked her and asked me a couple times how the pressure was.

Inside the men's room locker room, they have all the right amenities, like iced towels wrapped perfectly, sliced cucumbers, slippers that fit, and a steam room that doesn't waste energy-when you walk in you press the button and within two minutes the place is so hot and steamy you can't see. I almost got nervous for a second when I lost track of the door. The only thing I didn't like about it was the area where you wait to get your massage because it's in the main entrance, next to the open gift shop, so not very relaxing. But they have tea, mint water, and jars of pumpkin seeds and raisins; sesame sticks and wasabi peas; and pistachios, cranberries, and almonds. Yum.

Obviously, I really enjoyed my stay at Manele Bay, but my favorite of the two Four Seasons resorts on the island is Koele, since it's so unique and much more romantic. But Manele Bay's views will make you want to cry, especially when you see the dolphins and whales so close. Rates at Manele start at $345 per night and they are offering a fourth night free (through December 18, 2010). For more info, log on to their website or call their reservations line at 1-800-321-4666.

Check out my three-minute video of Manele Bay! In case you missed last week's Lodge at Koele video, here's a link to that one too.

We fly back to Los Angeles and then get on an 11-hour flight across the pond. If you are following me on Twitter, you already know where I am.

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Note: This trip was sponsored in part by Four Seasons Manele Bay & Lanai Visitors Bureau

See The Lanai Photo Slide Show

Copyright 2010 JohnnyJet, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Pictures From

The Trip


See Last Week's Lanai Photo Slide Show


This Week's Lanai Photo Slide Show




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