Wellness is the Focus at Hawaii’s Top Resort

by Brook Benten on November 1, 2022 in Travels,

Sensei Lana’i, a Four Seasons Resort, has been named Top Hotel in Hawaii by Conde Nast Readers’ Choice Awards, 2022. What makes this resort, with no beach within twenty miles, outshine Hawaii’s oceanfront property? One word: wellness.


Be Well

Wellness has become a catch-all label for the broad lens of holistic health. Half of US millennial and Gen Z travelers aspire to take a wellness or healing trip in the next year (Destination Analysts, 2022). We are over-stressed, pandemic-fatigued, politically exhausted people. And the panacea? With the wellness industry expected to be valued at $7T by the year 2025, the answer is wellness.

Sensei Lanai’s art, like this Talaia sculpture by Jaume Plensa, inspire tranquility and reflection. “Art should be something that liberates your soul.” -Keith Haring.
Photo courtesy Sensi Lana’i, a Four Seasons Resort.

The Sensei Way

Sensei’s founders, Larry Ellison and Dr. David Agus, share a purpose to help people live long, healthy lives. They envisioned a haven that teaches evidence-led theoretical knowledge and practical skills of self-care. The overarching message would be that this is the way for preventative health. The Sensei brand was born. The duo created the “Sensei Way.” The Sensei Way is a path to wellbeing, based upon three pillars: 1. Move, 2. Nourish, and 3. Rest. 

1:1 yoga sessions ($225) may be conducted at a Spa Hale. “We are finally entering an exciting time in medicine where we have the technology to custom-tailor treatment and preventive protocols just as we’d custom-tailor a suit or designer gown to one’s individual body.” -Dr. David Agus. Photo Brook Benten.

Real-Time Personalization

A thorough digital pre-arrival questionnaire allows Sensei Guides to get a sense for each guest’s current and aspirational health. Data-driven personalization can be collected pre-stay. The resort ships a WHOOP 4.0 wearable strap to Optimal Wellbeing Program guests, prior to their stay. The WHOOP strap captures exercise, sleep, and recovery data. It uses heart rate variability to decode nervous system function. Guests who complete biomarker testing receive a personalized food and activity itinerary based on their results.

Sensei Guides are the top 0.5% of industry-leading experts. We’re not talking about run-of-the-mill NASM-certified personal trainers. It’s the needle in the haystack everybody’s looking for: PhDs with empathy and social skills. You could find this level of customized wellness guidance in a clinical setting. But Larry Ellison and Dr. Agus knew that people don’t really dig clinics with their fluorescent lights and sterile environments. But 24-acres on a secluded Hawaiian island with tropical greenery and a pool that looks like The Grotto at the Playboy mansion? That’s wellness with panache. We can all get on board with that.

The pool at Sensei Lana’i rivals The Grotto at The Playboy mansion. “Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it.” -Lao Tzu. Photo courtesy Sensei Lana’i, a Four Seasons Resort.


Sensei Guides begin your inventory session on the day of your arrival with questions about your current movement habits. Notice how this is not necessarily deliberate exercise, but more how much, how often, and in which ways you move your body. From there, they may schedule you for a guided hike up the 4.5 mile Koloiki Ridge Trail; or attend a functional mobility session to improve range-of-motion and joint stability; or partake in a one-on-one private yoga class – or maybe even a coast down the sprawling zipline on property.

Two movement studios offer daily classes, led by world-class instructors. “We must move- and move frequently- to maintain health.” -Dr. David Agus. Photo courtesy Sensei Lana’i, a Four Seasons Resort.


When we hear the word “nourish,” we typically think of the energy that we put into our mouths. That’s only half of the conversation here. Mental health is of prime concern. FITT Insider data revealed that 75% of Gen Z report having anxiety or depression. Burnout has led to mass resignations and worker shortages. We are in the throes of a mental health crisis. But that’s the very reason why mental health is now such a focus for many people, above all other aspects of well-being. 

Sensei Guides will help you to create a nutrition plan, based on your biomarkers. 

Innovative chefs at the resort’s restaurant, Sensei by Nobu, honor fresh, local ingredients by crafting meals that fuse culinary delight with a kaleidoscope of colors, bursting with vitamins and flavor. 

The Sensei by Nobu menu is a collaboration of world-renowned Japanese Chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s classics and Dr. David Agus’s sound nutrition philosophy. “Let food be thy medicine.” Hippocrates. Photo Brook Benten.

Mental and spiritual nourishment may be customized with things like journaling, soaking under the stars in the resort’s eight Japanese soaking tubs, or guided meditation in Sensei’s garden.


After health, sleep is the highest priority for 2022 wellness consumers (FITT Insider). At the same time, it’s the area with the highest unmet need – one in three Americans are sleep-deprived. 

Stress exacerbates our restlessness. Ayla Donlin, EdD, a wellness expert in Long Beach, CA, delineates that there’s eustress (good stress) and there’s distress (bad stress). Most of us aren’t losing zzz’s over intolerable joyousness. But discord in social relationships is a major trigger for distress. “We’re miserable to each other and we stress each other out,” says neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky

A Koele Suite offers 790 square feet of luxurious accommodations, including a dining room, living room, bedroom, and panoramic patios with the perfect vantage point of the Resort’s garden. “Being still and doing nothing are two very different things.” -Jackie Chan Photo courtesy Sensei Lana’i, a Four Seasons Resort.

The average American sleeps only 6.8 hours per night, and 77% of Americans profess that they experience stress that affects their physical health (American Institute of Stress Statistics, 2022)

Sensei Lana’i taps into the $500B sleep economy by providing the accommodations that will carry your burdens away and leave you levitating. 

A Koele room features a luxurious King or two Double beds that include digital lighting for daytime, sunset, relax, and off selections. “Off” jives with 100% blackout shades that soar down from the ceilings, eclipsing all light so that you may soundly… rest.

Garden designers worked with art curators in 2019 to create a sensory story that tells the Sensei Way without words. “Sensei Lana’i is a premier wellness destination resort helping people learn daily practices to live longer, healthier lives.” -Kevin Kelly Photo courtesy Sensei Lana’i, a Four Seasons Resort.

Wellness Packages

The resort offers three invitations for guests to experience the Sensei Way, each with progressively greater breadth and depth. Discover Sensei; Sensei Guided Experience; and Optimal Wellbeing. For those who need a total wellness reset, a Sensei Sabbatical offers a full month (30 days) of immersion with activities, meals, and private sessions customized to help guests to leave the resort with a fresh perspective and healthier body and mind. All guests leave with actionable takeaways to take home as their Guide to Growth.

Sensei Lana’i, a Four Seasons Resort offers 96 guest rooms and suites. It is located in Lana’i, Hawaii, surrounded by 24-acres of therapeutic garden landscaping. Rates start at $1,020/night for a Discover Sensei package. The resort requires a 2-night minimum stay.

Pro Tips

-Party of One. Wellness travel is and will continue to be a rising trend in hospitality. Solo travel leads the way with this movement. If life is weighing you down, entertain your own company on a private vacation. Book an Optimal Wellbeing Program on Hawaii’s least-inhabited island, and leave your social connections at home. Rates start at $1,355/night for Optimal Wellbeing Program packages.

-Explore. A free shuttle runs every half hour between Sensei Lana’i, a Four Seasons Resort, and Four Seasons Lana’i (which locals call “the beach resort”). While at the beach resort, dust off your sandy flip flops, slide on your pumps, and dine on delicious surf and turf at One Forty

Expedite. Hawaiian Airlines offers nonstop flights to Honolulu from the West and Central coasts. In these unpredictable travel times, don’t mess with a connection. You’ll still need to fly Lana’i Air from Honolulu to Lana’i, but make the long haul to the big island as direct as possible by flying Hawaiian Airlines, especially if it’s the only nonstop option, as is the case from Austin. Even Coach passengers aboard Hawaiian Airlines enjoy two complimentary meals and a glass of wine each way from Texas. For the great value of both time and money, we recommend flying Hawaiian Airlines. Sensei Lanai includes luxurious connecting flights from Honolulu to Lanai and Lanai to Honolulu through Lanai Air, complimentary with your Sensei Lanai, a Four Seasons Resort room reservation (valued at over $700 per person).


Cover Photo Brook Benten

Brook Benten, M.Ed., is a fitness expert in Austin, TX. She wrote a book on resistance training, low impact cardio, nutrition and wellness for active aging women that will be published in March 2023 (Hearst). Brook has over twenty years of experience as an exercise physiologist. She writes articles for Texas Lifestyle Magazine to spread love and enjoyment of travel and outdoor adventure.