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I am a New York-based writer, travel lover, and author of The Drive North and Destination Paranormal. I have several other books in the works, including fiction.

Is The Lodge at Koele Really the Best Hotel in Hawaii?

Four Seasons Koele Lodge Front Exterior Lanai HawaiiThis past week I stayed at the Four Seasons Lanai, The Lodge at Koele on Lanai, Hawaii. Just this last week as well, it was ranked the second best hotel in all of the United States by U.S. News and World Report. I’d like to humor myself and think the editor heard I was staying there. In reality, though, there’s a serious question on the table after my stay: is this really the best hotel resort in Hawaii and the second best in the United States? The short answer is yes, and here’s why…


What’s the thing I always preach, boys and girls, when it comes to a good hotel or resort? Yes! Location, location, location. But honestly, when I first arrived at the Lodge at Koele, I was baffled by its location. Aren’t all hotels in Hawaii supposed to be down by the ocean? No! Absolutely not. And the Lodge at Koele proved it to me in only a way Four Seasons seems to be able to, after nabbing three of the top ten spots in those rankings.

The Four Seasons Lanai, The Lodge at Koele is upcountry. Normally most hotels and resorts in Hawaii are on or near a beach, but not this one. It’s because most of Lanai is upcountry. Why’s that? Because of the old pineapple plantation days. Dole has since moved on, but Lanai City and all of its people remain, most now working – whether it’s directly or indirectly – in the tourism industry. And they certainly take pride in it, too. But more on that a little later.

Four Seaons Koele Lodge Back Exterior Lanai HawaiiThe location is great for any Hawaiian vacation, because it is a nearly unique opportunity; not many resorts can pull off the upcountry feel yet still make you feel like you’re in a Hawaiian tropical paradise. It has all kinds of available activity options, too, including down at the beach with its cousin at Manele Bay. More on them in another post, but first more on The Lodge at Koele and…


When I was finally all alone in my room, I’ll be honest, I did a little happy dance. The room was amazing, nice and big, with a bathroom that seemed equally as large as the room. And for me, large rooms are always a good thing, since I love to be able to spread out and feel at home in the room. The Lodge at Koele certainly makes that possible with all of the extra space, veranda availability, and the great bathrooms.

Four Seasons Koele Lodge Room Lanai HawaiiFour Seasons Koele Lodge Bathroom Lanai HawaiiAs you would expect with any Four Seasons property, the rooms were well cared for, well-kept, and didn’t have a scratch or a scuff anywhere. Believe me, I looked. And I looked some more. Just because I was on a trip hosted by the Lanai Visitor Bureau doesn’t mean that I wasn’t looking for fault. I was looking extra hard. But the room didn’t have it. Everything was fantastic, so much so that I struggled to even leave the room. But I had to with all of the fantastic options for…


Te be perfectly frank, you can never have enough activity choices for guests at a hotel or resort, particularly when it comes to Hawaii. I hate it when I go somewhere only to run out of fun options a few days into my stay. But that’s not the case with The Four Seasons Lanai, The Lodge at Koele. I left without being able to squeeze it all in, which only makes me want to go back and experience it all and more all over again.

Even if you’re a recent subscriber to this blog, you know I love to hike. The Lodge has an amazing trail with a jaw-dropping end view. Don’t believe me? Click on the below panorama I pieced together, zoom in on it, and see it up close for yourself…

Koloiki Trail Hike Lanai Hawaii PanoramaThere’s also availability to two golf courses – one on site designed by Greg Norman and another down at Manele designed by Jack Nicklaus – available for guests. There are about a bajillion area activities, too, from different outfitters – off road ride and shoot programs with Lanai Grand Adventures, hunting excursions and other outdoor activities with Island Adventure Fitness, and much more all right there at the resort.

Four Seasons Koele Lodge Golf Course Lanai HawaiiIs culture more your thing? Then hang out with Auntie Irene and learn to play the ukulele. You couldn’t do worse than me, so let it rip and learn how to play Over the Rainbow. Or relax and learn to make a lei, dance hula, or just talk story; she and I could have gabbed for hours!

Four Seasons Koele Lodge Pool Lanai HawaiiNot slow enough for you? Well, there’s a relaxing pool onsite, a fitness center, garden walks, and much more. It’s all right there, just as it should be with any good resort, at The Lodge at Koele. Even the beach activities, as I said, are easily accessible and open to guests, thanks to a shuttle that can take you from the lodge down to its cousin property at Manele Bay.


I’m normally a pretty easy guy to please when it comes to food. And generally speaking, the fancier a chef tries to get the less I’ll like it. So when I saw French toast on the menu at The Lodge at Koele for breakfast, I was all excited. It was basic, difficult to screw up, and always tasty to eat. But then it hit me. I had an OMG moment as soon as I took the first bite. The French toast at The Four Seasons Lanai was, and I don’t want to mince words here, the best I have ever enjoyed. Hands down. There’s no arguing this point. It was an experience all its own. I don’t know if it was the Nutella, the cooked bananas, or the powdered macadamias, but whatever it was it was amazing.

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????For dinner I ordered the beef rib with potatoes and vegetables. Again, not terribly adventurous, I know, but something which I was craving after a day spent learning the ukulele and hiking. And again, it hit the spot. The moment wasn’t as monumental for me as the French toast, but it was darn good nonetheless, just as every meal I ate, including desserts, in The Lodge at Koele’s main dining room, which is actually located in the main lobby area. Normally I’d sneer at that, but it fit. It really worked, right along with the piano player at night creating a great atmosphere with relaxing tunes while people dined or sipped a cocktail by the fireplace.


When it comes down to it, regardless of anything else – the location, room, food, etc. – if the service is bad, the stay will be worse. And sometimes, no matter how great everything else is at a hotel or resort – particularly a luxury location – the service can be the worst. What it is I don’t know, maybe snobbery toward me in my t-shirt, but that’s just how it is; but not with The Four Seasons Lanai, The Lodge at Koele.

Four Seasons Koele Lodge Lake and Pagoda Lanai HawaiiThe moment I got off the shuttle from the Lanai Ferry to the hotel I was greeted and treated warmly. Everything was “Mr. Hussong” this, or “Mr. Hussong” that. There was never a moment where a single person stumbled, frozen in that moment of “Oh crap, what’s his name again?” And that really amazed me, too, since there were so many guest’s names which they had to learn each and every night; I wasn’t the only one being directly addressed. This is why I decided to throw some of the staff a curveball. As soon as they seemed to have my last name down, I’d tell them, “Please, call me Jason.” Nothing phased them, not even later that night, the next day, whenever. (Not even when I returned to use a room for the afternoon days later before leaving the island.) They always remembered my name, and always remembered my preference for being addressed. It never mattered if it was the front desk, the concierge, the dining room, the valet / bellman. Everyone. I loved my stay, and all of the staff, that much more for it. It shows they truly care.


I could not have been happier with my stay at The Four Seasons Lanai, The Lodge at Koele. They get two big thumbs up, and I’d give them even more if I had a few extra arms and hands. Their U.S. News and World Report ranking is well deserved; the staff was amazing, the property gorgeous, the activity options plentiful, and the opportunities for relaxation endless. As such, please excuse me; I’m going to go back to dreaming about one of these chairs and my time at the lodge…Four Seaons Koele Lodge Lounge Chairs Lanai Hawaii

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6 Comments on “Is The Lodge at Koele Really the Best Hotel in Hawaii?”

  1. prwahine February 5, 2013 at 4:26 am #

    Wonderful blog post! The Lodge is very popular with Hawaii locals and you point out so many reasons why.


  1. Hiking on Lanai’s Koloiki Trail | Jason's Travels - March 4, 2013

    […] in my room at the Four Seasons, the Lodge at Koele on my sponsored trip to Lanai, Hawaii, I packed up everything I thought I’d need to go hiking. It […]

  2. Is the Four Seasons Manele Bay Better than the Koele Lodge? | Jason's Travels - March 18, 2013

    […] even strongly competed with the second best place to stay in the country, its up-island cousin – The Four Seasons Resort Lanai, the Lodge at Koele. It was apparent as I was lead to my room by the […]

  3. Staying at the Hotel Lanai | Jason's Travels - April 22, 2013

    […] are three hotels on Lanai. I stayed at both the Four Seasons Resort at Manele Bay and the Koele Lodge before spending two nights at the third one, the Hotel Lanai. And as much as I loved both of the […]

  4. An Overview of Hotels on Lanai | Jason's Travels - May 6, 2013


  5. Tasting the Best Food on Lanai | Jason's Travels - September 4, 2013

    […] the road from the Hotel Lanai is The Four Seasons Lodge at Koele. You want upscale service at its finest? Then check out the lodge. Everything about it is amazing, […]

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