Photography by Robb Aaron Gordon
My stay at the Sensei Lanai begins weeks before I touch down on the smallest of Hawaii’s populated islands. The Four Seasons resort is the brainchild of billionaire Larry Ellison and best-selling wellness author Dr. David Agus, and it goes to great lengths to get guests’ bodies, minds, and spirits right, starting with an email questionnaire I fill out at home in New York. (Sample queries: Would you be open to challenging yourself with new types of movement? Do you make time for self-reflection, and if not would you like to?)
Upon my arrival at the Lanai airport (the cost of the flight from a private hangar at the Honolulu airport is included), a Tesla whisks me to the 96-room resort, which stands at 1,600 feet above sea level and is decorated with bronze Fernando Botero sculptures. My first order of business is a sit-down with my Sensei Guide, Kelly, who explains the Sensei Methoda three-pronged wellness program that focuses on movement, nutrition, and rest—and helps customize my itinerary.
The ensuing days at Sensei Lanai braid together self-exploration with self-pampering. I get a massage in a spa hale (Hawaiian for house) that’s decked out with an outdoor plunge pool and rain shower. I meet Sabine, a nutritionist who offers suggestions for fixing my diet, such as introducing more fermented foods for my gut health and practicing mindful eating to slow my food-shoveling. “Take a breath,” she recommends. “Consider what you’re eating. You can even count how many times you chew.” I attempt this at the on-site Nobu restaurant, but any and all restraint goes out the window when the Kona lobster appears.
I also give guided meditation a shot. My instructor, Lauren, takes me through the basics of breathing and using the flow of breath through my body to stay present. Relaxing!
Not so relaxing: The fitness class, which has me running from the treadmill to the weights and back again, in intervals. Fortunately, to deal with the muscle and fascia soreness, my trainer, JT, also shows me how to use foam rollers and massage balls to target the kinks.
Of course, this is still a vacation, so I book a snorkeling cruise at the sister Four Seasons resort down the hill to do the requisite swim with sea turtles. And at the end of each day, I settle into an Adirondack chair on the veranda to sip a Yamazaki whiskey and watch the sun sink into the Pacific. I figure I’ve earned it.
Rooms from $650 per night, Sensei Guided Experience from $1,130 per night including room (five-night stay recommended),
Next up: 5 Wellness Retreats for All 5 Senses