Aloha! Asher and I call Maui, Hawaii our home, and as dreamy as it is, even island living can benefit from some extra R&R.
Our summer started out with a bang because of two trips to the Four Seasons Ko Olina, Oahu. The first was intended to be a family getaway, but at the last minute, my kiddos got a cold. Instead of canceling, Asher encouraged me to go solo while he held down the fort at home. Thus began my first mom-vacay ever!
In July, we finally did the much anticipated whole family trip to Ko Olina, which was also epic but very different from experiencing the hotel sans kiddos. (More on this below.)
I ended up booking my first vacation to the Four Seasons Ko Olina in two combined sections, as I ended up extending the trip. The first part of the trip was booked with the Kama Aina rate since we live on Maui, Hawaii (they offer locals a 20% discount, as well as half-off discounts on parking and %15 off spa treatments), and the second half of the trip we booked with American Express miles.
If you aren’t a local Hawaii resident with a valid ID, Amex is the way to go, as you get:
Noon check-in (when available)
$72 in breakfast credit per room
4pm late checkout
$100 resort credit that you can use at the spa or on meals.
Since Covid, prices in Hawaii are sky high — you are looking to spend anywhere from $780 a night to around $1,800 a night during the high season for the base-level rooms without ocean views. We found booking last minute, even during high season, got us the best prices. I was quoted $1,200 for a base room during the first week in July, but then called back at the end of June and got the same room for $800/night.
Pro Tip: Utilize the Concierge. Even if you are booking online, not via the hotel website or on the phone, I suggest utilizing the concierge if you have any questions at all about your trip. They are extremely helpful, and there are so many details that The Four Seasons Ko Olina will arrange for you, many at no extra cost.
Getting to and from the Four Seasons, Ko Olina
There is only one airport on Oahu, located in Honolulu, about 40 minutes from the hotel — and there are basically four ways you can get to Ko Olina:
Get an Uber — An Uber will cost you about $50-60 depending on traffic and time of day. The only bummer is you have to lug your luggage up to the elevator as the Uber’s aren’t able to wait outside baggage claim, which can feel like a lot if you’ve just had a long flight with young children.
Use Four Seasons’ Platinum Limousine Service — The Four Seasons sends you an email a few days before your arrival asking you if you would like them to arrange a ride for you. They quoted anywhere from $325-$720 for the 40-minute ride from the hotel to the resort. The email neglected to tell me that if I called the concierge ahead of time, they would have helped me arrange a flat rate taxi at $75. That’s how I ended up getting back to the airport after my stay, and it was a great experience. (Charley’s Taxi for the win!)
Get an airport taxi — Baggage claim is very laid back and taxis are right outside the terminal. The cost of an airport taxi ride to Ko Olina should be about $90. However! I got scammed by the driver who upped his meter as soon as I mentioned I was going to the Four Seasons. (Not very nice!) The final price was $115, and he wanted cash. Lesson learned! Be sure to ask the taxi driver for a quote before you get in the cab.
Rent a car — It’s fairly easy to get from the terminal to the car rental area. Just note that the Four Seasons charges $50 a day for parking (Locals get a kama aina discount of $25 a day)
Do I need to rent a car?
The resort is amazing, the food is delicious, and the beach and pools are wonderful. So, if you are just wanting a very chill trip, you have everything you need. That said, the Four Seasons at Ko Olina is quite isolated from everything else on Oahu. If you are looking for a wild Waikiki getaway full of shopping, nightlife, and dining options, this isn’t the hotel for you. That said, staying out of Waikiki is much more relaxing!
If you are planning to do multiple excursions or have kiddos still in car seats, renting a car at the airport might be smart as you would likely spend more per day on Ubers and parking than on the rental.
Pro Tip: Ubers are readily available on Oahu, whereas on other Hawaiian islands, Ubers are very hard to come by.
One additional thing to note… Waikiki roads are insane! I’m used to traffic, I grew up in L.A. and have driven the crazy roads in Paris without a problem — but Waikiki is next level. So, if you are wanting a stress-free vacay, free from parking nightmares, etc., you might want to budget for those Ubers.
If you’re wanting to focus on nature excursions, have car seats you are juggling, and Ubers aren’t logical, the Four Seasons can organize a rental car for you on a day-to-day basis. Just let them know 24 hrs in advance and they book for you via Enterprise. For a mid-size car you’re looking at about $200/day — which is pretty overpriced but might be worth the convenience.
On my first trip in June, I booked the base room, garden view, via American Express miles and it cost an equivalent of $1,200 a night. However, because of the Amex upgrade, I ended up with a pretty massive ocean-view room with a balcony.
The room exceeded my expectations. There were two huge closets, one being a walk-in that could easily hold one of the Kardashian’s luggage. The bathroom had a soaking tub and rain shower with two sinks and plenty of counter space. The bed was extremely comfortable, the comforters were super cozy, and I literally lived in the bathrobe they provided! It was dreamy. The beds were so comfy, and the quality of the linens and towels were 5-star (as you would expect!)
Pro Tip: If you are light sensitive, be sure to bring a sleep mask because the blinds let in quite a bit of light! I woke up every morning around 6am because of the sun. They do provide earplugs which were helpful because I did have some noisy neighbors who were out on their balcony until the wee hours of the morning. But, good news is Ko Olina does have quiet hours beginning at 10pm — so the loud parties at the neighboring properties quieted down by that time.
Should I pack shampoo/conditioner etc.?
Unless you are super attached to your shampoo and lotion brands, skip packing them! They provide really high-quality, natural soaps and lotions made on Oahu. They also can provide toothbrushes, toothpaste, nail kits, and all kinds of other goodies if you forget to bring them or don’t want to bother packing them.
How is the food?
Overall, the food is yummy. It feels fresh, in many cases, farm to table, and the ingredients were high quality and always beautifully presented.
There were definitely some misses: they seemed a little understaffed at the pool over the Fourth of July and we ended up with more than one messed up order and even someone else’s food, and one night my steak at Noe was so badly over-cooked that it was like a piece of leather I hate complaining, but it was pretty pricey. The next day the restaurant manager called me directly to apologize for the steak and I was fully refunded.
Can I eat every meal at the resort and not get tired of the menu?
The simple answer is yes. If you are staying a week and don’t eat any meal outside of the resort, you could still be trying new entrees without much trouble.
When I was traveling alone, I opted for the La Hiki breakfast buffet as I had a $72 breakfast credit per day (per room) which easily covered the $50 buffet. When traveling with the family, we needed to make that $72 stretch, so the kids went for the buffet ($21 for kids over 4 years old, 4 and under eat free — which is a great deal), and Asher and I opted for ordering off the menu.
There are two main lunch options, La Hiki and the Pool and Beach Service, which will bring your lunch poolside or beachside — which is extremely convenient and relaxing. Pro Tip: If you get tired of the somewhat limited pool/beach service menu, a hack that they don’t mention is you can order from the in-room-dining menu, which has A LOT more options. My husband got a great pizza poolside from the in-room-dining menu and I loved the salmon.
For dinner, you have Mina’s Fish House, Noe, and the more casual Japanese-inspired tapas-style restaurant, Manalo Lounge.
You NEED reservations ahead of time for Mina’s and Noe but can just walk to Manalo with no problem. I would suggest making reservations for dining at least a week in advance, especially if you have more than a party of 2. I often had to work with the times available (first available seating 8pm!) or just head for the Lounge.
It’s smart to budget $40 to $50 per person per meal for a simple adult entree. We found that we spent $300/day for our family of four. Kiddos have meal options at $21, and littles under age 4 eat free at all of the main restaurants (not the pool unfortunately) which saved us about $70/day. This, of course, excludes alcohol as we aren’t drinkers, and we also brought simple snack food for our kids from home to help save on costs.
Pro Tip: If you have food allergies, they are extremely accommodating. Just be sure to tell your server.
The beach has a man-made reef and is totally waveless. It’s like a massive saltwater pool. The sand is soft and there are no rocks. The Four Seasons has activities like paddleboarding, for free, as well as paid snorkeling etc. Don’t expect to surf or bodyboard here, but it’s perfect for families or folks who just want to relax.
The beach is shared with the Disney Aulani hotel next door, but there are clear demarcations between the two hotels and hotel goers stay in their own areas. This is great for the Four Seasons’ guests because the Disney hotel is packed and the chairs are lined up like sardines, whereas the Four Seasons’ beach chairs are spaced out well so you aren’t close to any other guests that aren’t in your party.
How is the spa?
I had one of the best Lomi Lomi massages of my life there and I really enjoyed my facial.
I also had the Maka-Makai treatment, which was extremely overpriced, plus was in an outside cabana while some serious weed-whacking was happening a few feet away. (Ask for an indoor massage room if you are at all aware of noises.
Overall, the facilities were good: a lap pool, a relaxing garden, a hot tub, a cold plunge, a steam room, dry sauna. Much more abundant than the spa at the Four Seasons, Maui.
I genuinely enjoyed my experience, but did notice it wasn’t quite as clean as I would have expected and some of the chairs badly need an upgrade. For the price, it came in as middle of the road – not the most stellar experience but also not a negative experience.
If I go back, I’ll definitely get a Lomi Lomi again but not the other treatments.
Pro tip: All guests can use the spa facilities, even if you aren’t getting treatments.
There are three main pools and one spa lap pool. All have lovely views and all the pools are kept really warm so night swimming is never chilly.
The first pool is the main pool, located right when you walk out of the hotel lobby. It’s a good size and round, so it feels bigger than it is. This is one of the two family pools and can get quite busy mid-day.
I didn’t swim in this pool on my first trip, and what I realized is that it can feel a bit hectic! This said, the kiddos loved it and spent almost the entire day in the water.
Pro Tip: Bring beach toys from home, like dive rings or a floating flamingo to ride on. These were a huge hit for my kids! There are also poolside cabanas that I had assumed were for rent but actually are free of charge. They are perfect for lunch and when you need to take a break in the shade. Just be sure to claim yours early as by about 10:30am they are all taken.
The second pool is the “kiddie pool” which is just past the main pool. It is generally more chill and I ended up spending some time here with the kids to escape the more chaotic main pool. It’s shallow and has a fun sand section, where the kids can play pretend that they are in the ocean. (Why they need this since the ocean is 50 feet away, I’m still unsure — but the kids loved it!)
There are only two free cabanas in this area, so they are even more of a hot commodity.
This is the holy grail of pools: The Adult Pool.
This is the only pool I swam in on my solo trip. The vibe in this section is super chill, quiet, and mega relaxing. I basically slept and ate poolside for the entire time I was there. It is my happy place.
Be sure to watch the sunset from this area once during your trip. If you are traveling with kids under 18, you can go to the lawn just in front of the adult pool and get the same views.
I also found the food servers made fewer mistakes in this section for the poolside service. I think in general this area is just much less hectic than the other pools.
Be sure to enjoy a night or sunset swim. It’s extremely special.
Is the Four Seasons Ko Olina a good choice for my Hawaiian getaway?
I loved both my visits.
My solo trip was pretty flawless, and I really recommend this hotel for honeymooners or adult travelers looking for some peaceful romantic R&R. It’s not Waikiki, and is far from most other amenities, so it isn’t right for someone wanting to do a lot of shopping or experience the nightlife.
For a family vacation, it worked really well for us — it offered my husband and I the 5-star service and delicious food, and the pools were great for our 5 & 6-year-old kiddos. However, when they are a bit older, we might have to rethink, as it doesn’t have the waterslides or activities that you would find at more kid-oriented resorts. We did spend a morning at the Wet and Wild, which is the only main attraction near Ko Olina and it was great and fulfilled my kids’ adventurous spirit.
Lyric is an accomplished poet, best-selling author, award-winning screenwriter (studied at NYU film school), amazing chef, singer/songwriter, and mommy of two amazing little kids! After growing up in Hollywood she decided to delve into a profound spiritual journey and became a yogi-monk for almost a decade. She enjoys helping Asher conduct research, writing for our blog, and loves traveling the world (Paris is her favorite city), and sharing her experiences with you!