I knew I was in for a treat when I was whisked from Honolulu International on a private jet that took me on a 30-minute flight to Lāna‘i. The luxury perk is included with a stay at Sensei Lāna‘i at one of the island’s two Four Seasons properties. An oceanside resort is the larger of the two and sits along Hulopoe Bay; Sensei, for guests 16 and older, is in Ko’ele, the island’s lush, traditionally spiritual uplands. The setting is spectacular, enhanced by more than $1 billion in art. And with Sensei by Nobu as the in-house restaurant, delicious meals are guaranteed.
I signed up for Sensei’s five-day Optimal Wellbeing program. It’s part of a platform developed by billionaire Larry Ellison (the co-founder of Oracle, who owns 98 percent of Lana‘i) and physician and scientist Dr. David Agus. The goal is to leverage data, technology, and personalized medicine to help people live longer, healthier lives. Six weeks prior to arrival, guests begin wearing a Whoop band, a stylish fitness device that tracks biometric data. They’re also assigned a personal Sensei guide to custom-design experiences.
My guide, Kyle, helped me craft a fitness-focused plan during our conversations leading up to my visit. (I wanted to challenge myself; other focus options are mindfulness and nutrition, although experiences typically incorporate all three. There are also programs built around tennis or golf.)
The resort’s spacious rooms are filled with natural light and come with private garden porches and the famous Toto bidets. After getting settled, the first item on my itinerary was R&R time in a teak hale (pronounced holly). The expansive private spas are tucked into tropical gardens and feature an Ofuro Bath, outdoor rain shower, saltwater soaking tub, infrared sauna, steam shower, and more. The restorative experience made the long travel day well worth it.
After an early meditation the next morning, I met with Kyle to go over my Whoop analytics and set specific goals for the rest of my stay, during which I’d be guided in one-on-one sessions with exercise physiologists, mindfulness coaches, and nutritionists. I then had the first of several workouts with my fitness coach, Skyler. Through various challenges, she helped me realize that I’m much stronger and more capable than I ever dreamed—a truth brought home at the end of my journey with an incredible 5-mile hike to the top of Koloiki Ridge.
The technology at Sensei is mind-blowing. During a mindfulness session, for example, a device was attached to my earlobe to measure brainwaves while I tried three different meditation techniques. It revealed which one worked fastest and lasted longest. And prior to a massage at the private hale, the tech used a proprietary thermographic system to create a visual map of my body, revealing asymmetries, muscle tightness, and areas of pain. This set me up for the most incredible massage of my life.
Other highlights included a “forest bathing” session (bathing in the sense of connecting with the trees, not what you likely first envisioned) and late-night soaks in Sensei’s Onsen gardens, a group of 10 secluded hot tubs that offer magnificent views of star-filled skies.
Ellison and Agus know they’re on to something, especially as we all emerge from the pandemic and seem to be in a collective quest to enhance the quality of our lives. A second resort, Sensei Porcupine Creek, will open on 230 acres near the Santa Rosa mountains in Rancho Mirage, California, by the end of the year, and others are in the works.
Kyle sent me on my way with a detailed plan, created in collaboration with the other coaches. It was an unforgettable experience—and one that’s guaranteed to pay lifelong dividends.
Wedding Bliss in Paradise
Twenty-three years ago, real estate developer Bill Cawley proposed to the love of his life, Keely. They were married 45 days later. “We were ready to start our life together,” he says. The couple looked at venues in Dallas but instead chose a destination wedding at Four Seasons Lāna‘i, based on the recommendation of a friend. “There’s incredible beauty everywhere you look,” says the chairman of Cawley International. “It’s serene and secluded—it truly is paradise.” A planner with the resort helped pull details together. The couple exchanged vows in front of a waterfall then posed for a photos while standing barefoot on the edge of the Pacific. “It was intimate and meaningful,” Cawley says. “It was just Keely and me, gazing into each other’s eyes.”