A Wellness Journey: My Experience at Sensei Lanai, a Four Seasons Resort

A Wellness Journey: My Experience at Sensei Lanai, a Four Seasons Resort
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Can travel transform the mind, body, and soul by connecting with nature, resting, and guided wellness? As a father of three, celebrating 28 years of marriage to my best friend, and turning 50, I decided to find out. I took a different approach to travel: exploring and embracing a guided wellness retreat.

If I have another 50 years on the horizon, my goal is to live my best life by nurturing a wellness mindset, which requires a course correction in my day-to-day life. I imagine I am not alone in this desired reset. This is the story of the first step in my journey.

In my wellness travel pursuit, my wife, Michelle, and I perused some of our favorite travel magazines, such as Conde Nast Traveler and Afar, and discovered this gem of a place on Lanai, Hawaii, called Sensei Lanai, a Four Seasons Resort. It promised an immersive retreat complete with seclusion, guided wellness options, and a mindful approach to well-being. Before booking, Sensei Lanai connected me with a wellness concierge who identified my goals and desired outcome and curated the optimal customized itinerary.

Lanai is a peaceful paradise. With more than 90,000 acres and a population of just over 3,000, the secluded island offers pristine beaches, lush green mountains, tropical valleys, and two resorts — the oceanfront Four Seasons Resort Lanai and the wellness enclave, Sensei Lanai. In the northwest corner of the island at secluded Polihua Beach, green turtles and humpback whales frequently pass the shoreline. Inland is the Garden of the Gods, a lunar landscape of rock towers and boulders.

We arrived exhausted after the holidays and the end of another business year; in addition, the upcoming weddings of my eldest son and my daughter were in the planning stages. We were ready for some down time.

After a plane change in Oahu, we arrived on Lanai and transferred to the lush oasis of Sensei Lanai (the word “sensei” aptly means teacher or guide). The songs of Japanese bush warblers filled the air, setting the tone for the retreat. The grounds, set in the spiritual uplands of Koele, with majestic pine, massive Banyan trees, and tropical gardens were literally a breath of fresh air. I couldn’t help but imagine a Hawaiian Eden. My reset had begun.

DAY 1 BEGAN WITH breakfast at Sensei by Nobu, which incorporated a variety of healthful foods and tastes for the senses. I met my wellness guide, Lydia Moran, for an extensive consultation as we began with a conversation about my journey, which led to the data sets around my physical health with key biomarkers and, ultimately, a guided treatment itinerary. Each treatment represented a step on my “movement, rest, and nourishment” journey.

I quickly realized this wellness retreat was bigger than some strategic rest and relaxation program; it was about me transforming my life over the next 50 years and doing it well. The script flipped on me as this wellness journey began to dive into the mindset of why I am the way that I am, and how we can use the simple principles of movement, nourishment, and rest for healing and restoration. Achieving long-term success would require lifestyle changes: more stretching, more mobility, less food, better food, less caffeine (a blow to this coffeehouse junkie).

I ended day one with a massage therapy session that began with a full body thermal mapping that identified areas that were stressed, and had pain and inflammation. The therapist presented the mapping report to me for review, and then, on the massage table, he strategically targeted those areas. The whole process was impressive, and I felt immediate relief.

DAY 2 BEGAN WITH RISING AT DAWN. I felt calibrated to the natural grounding and rhythm that was emerging within my body. I was teamed up with Eduardo, a world-class athlete, to address my movement and physical makeup. He quickly discovered the toll my professional life on the computer had taken and began to break down my gait and posture.

“We are unable to structurally rebuild your body unless we start with your feet,” he said.

Frankly, I was blown away with how the structure of my feet felt after 15 minutes of a simple/small 2-inch ball rolling around my toes and feet.

We began additional ball work targeting the muscles of my upper body as he taught me about posture, position, and movement with targeted stretches. As I finished my first day with movement, I was clearly inspired to redefine my body physically more than ever — one toe stretch at a time.

Dinner that evening at Sensei by Nobu was a four-course meal curated by world-renowned Japanese Chef Nobu Matsuhisa highlighting the flavors of the island and sea. I embraced each artisan course as an artform with an intentional discovery of sight, taste, and texture. Then, early to bed.

DAY 3 STARTED AT SUNRISE with a guided 5-mile hike into the Pu’upehe mountains. As we gained about 2,500 feet in elevation, I was truly moved by the stunning views of neighboring islands and by the beauty of the deep tropical ravines, secluded beaches, and even breaching whales in the ocean far below.

THE LAST DAY, I CHECKED IN with Lydia for a recap. We began to unpack my long-term health journey as we sat on the dock with the ever-present warblers singing, swans floating in the waterway, and the sun setting over a lake. I realized that we were exploring areas of my wellness journey that would require serious inner strength. How am I at being here, being present-minded? Gulp … not so good, as one of my driving strengths in business appears to be one of my gaps. I realized I am not great at celebrating the victories; I am too focused on closing gaps and ignoring the tremendous gains. I accepted the truth and began to unpack the “why,” and the question of “Will I change?” I felt hope that I could. There is something extraordinarily special in being “here” and present. My inner voice was chanting: “Listen, think, care, say yes!”

The Sensei Way focuses on three simple practices: move- ment, nourishment, and rest. Movement is how we interact with the environment, nourishment is what fuels us, and rest is how we recover and grow. These practices are connected and enriched by one another, forming an essential balance that requires commitment, calibration, and consistency.

Lydia followed up in an email with a complete summary and a technology-assisted health strategy. I look forward to a stay at Sensei Porcupine Creek, in Rancho Mirage, California, over the next year or so as my path to wellness will need a check-in.

As I returned to the mainland, and essentially back to reality, amid committed business and family life activities, I felt a sense of pride that I had invested in myself and have a path forward that is not a must-do fad, but an overall healthy mindset and approach to life.

Forward to the Present

A few weeks into this, I already was embracing this new pathway and approach. I feel better, I sleep great, and I have a sense of pride around making little changes in my life. Truthfully, my mental journey remains challenging as I try to position myself in the present, and not worry about what mountain needs to be scaled. I am a work in progress. Here are some takeaways I’m doing consistently:

We had guests over, and I was put to the test on a healthier approach to hospitality by offering more colors of fruits and veggies per meal.

  • I am adding chia/hemp seeds to the morning Greek yogurt and overnight oats.
  • I lean into my breathing and stretching early in the day.
  • I have a committed, intentional nourishment approach with preparation happening before the day/weekend gets spun out.
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About the Author: Jenny Kristy

Spice Seeker, Recipe Weaver, Nomad Chef |With a passport bursting with stamps and a pantry overflowing with global spices, Jenny Kristy isn't just a cook, she's a culinary nomad. Her travels fuel her passion, transforming exotic flavors into recipes that tantalize and transport. She weaves magic in her kitchen, sharing her adventures through meals that whisper of Marrakesh markets and Tuscan trattorias. From teaching sushi to whipping up Moroccan masterpieces, Jenny ignites wanderlust and connects cultures, one delicious bite at a time.

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