Of all the press trips, of all the hotels, of all the countries: Hawaii Four Seasons took the biscuit. Hands down the best holiday I have ever been on in over ten years of writing travel features. In fact, the best holiday I have ever been on period. How’s that for an opener.
I’ve ridden horses across the plains in Montana, lived with a gaucho in a concrete hut on a sheep farm in Patagonia, skied the snowboard-free slopes of Utah’s Deer Valley and freaked out at an all-inclusive swingers resort in Jamaica. Nothing however comes close to my five nights spent on the islands of Oahu and Lanai, staying at the Four Seasons on both.
Oh, and my girlfriend and I made friends with newlywed Brittany Daniel, the child star of 1990s hit TV show Sweet Valley High, and her husband Adam as they honeymooned alongside us. But we’ll get to that later.
The itinerary for the stay was three nights on Oahu before a 30-minute island hopper flight over to Lanai for two nights. The Oahu leg would include an island helicopter tour, a Tesla hire car for the day, a trip to the island’s surfing mecca North Shore and a hike to a tide pool at Kaena Point from where recently deceased Hawaiian spirits are said to leap. On Lanai, the private island bought for a reported $300 million by billionaire Larry Edelson in 2012, we would be horse riding, off-roading in a jeep along the deserted beaches, and dining at the hotel’s Nobu.
Oahu is Hawaii’s third largest island and home to the state capital, Honolulu. It is also the home of surfing, where the towering, glassy winter waves draw the best surfers in the world for the annual Vans Triple Crown competition.
Jurassic Park was filmed at 12 locations across this island and visitors can explore on foot, horseback, zipline or by chopper the iconic valley where a herd of Gallimimus famously fled from a T-Rex in Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster classic. Giant dinosaur bones (made out of Styrofoam) remain to this day and form part of the tours.
Oh, and Oahu boasts the world’s largest outdoor shopping mall if that’s your thing. My girlfriend and I are both British but have been living in New York for the last three years. We flew out of JFK and via a stop in Minneapolis we arrived some 12 hours at Oahu airport.
Neither of us had ever been to Hawaii and like many of our countrymen had little idea what it would be like as a holiday destination.
Our knowledge was limited to Elvis Presley films, Pearl Harbor history lessons, surfing clips shown in those annoyingly trendy UK pubs and news footage of the Obamas eating shaved ice during their yearly vacation on Oahu. We were about to learn a lot, very quickly about a chain of islands where we both now want to retire to as soon as possible.
We were met at Oahu’s Four Seasons hotel in Ko Olina with garlands and freshly squeezed juice before being whisked through an open-air, marble-floored lobby where the soft notes from a ukulele floated up and over the balconies of the 17-floor atrium.