I didn’t want to start my vacation in tears, but 12 hours after arriving on Lanai, Hawaii, my eyes were watery.
It wasn’t flight delays or family drama. I was at the Sensei Lanai at the Four Seasons Resort, walking along a wellness guide through the constant anxiety of increased heart rate and lack of sleep.
Sensei Lanai has everything you need for a luxurious stay. Close to white sandy beaches, turquoise caves for swimming, specialty restaurants at Nobu and more. But that’s not what the resort’s ardent guests are here for. Like me, they came for all the amenities of a highly personalized wellness program, including one-on-one coaching, on-site nutritionists, and mindset experts.
Opened in 2019, the hotel is the first location for Sensei’s science-driven wellness resort brand, founded by cancer researcher David Agus, PhD, and Larry Ellison, co-founder of software company Oracle. (The two met through his Steve Jobs; Agus was treating him and his worried friend Ellison.)
Prior to arrival, guests will complete a questionnaire. Questions ranged from practical to reflective. Which do you prefer, golf or snorkeling? When do you prefer to eat dinner? Would you like to learn how to incorporate introspection into your daily practice? The answers are given to your guides, those like gurus.
What I wanted most was relief from the generalized anxiety disorder that has plagued me since my teenage years. It can also manifest as simple anxiety. They can also become agitated, panicked, overwhelmed, and out of control. my appetite is gone. I can’t sleep even though I’m tired. Vacations ease my anxiety, but they come right back when I get home.
The morning after we arrived, we sat down with one of our guides. She took several baseline markers measuring my blood pressure, heart rate, and body fat composition, and performed a functional movement screen to understand my physical limitations, aches and pains.
I rattled off my symptoms, wondering if the teacher’s technical approach would help prolong the stillness beyond my stay. Instead of my usual holiday itinerary of sleeping and drinking in a Mai Tai, my guides work through meditation and sessions with a wellness coach to address signs of anxiety (heart pounding, gastrointestinal distress, physical and emotional fatigue). ) to focus on dealing with
She provided one-on-one yoga, dietary counseling, and biometric body mapping to understand where my anxiety was centered in my body.
Custom schedules like this make the facility a landmark for off-season athletes and guests recovering from chemotherapy, she says. Often they stay for weeks or months at a time.
If you’re sporty, an exercise physiologist can help you perfect your swing, run faster, and tune your gait. For those healing, grounds provide the necessary peace. In contrast to the hotel-heavy Honolulu, Lanai is still largely wild and uninhabited, with only about 3,000 people. In 2012, Ellison bought his 98% of the island, which was once almost entirely a pineapple plantation.
The resort is equally lush, dotted with an encyclopedia of iridescent hibiscus, birds of paradise, and other tropical plants. There’s a rock garden, some glass-moving studios, and a hot spring hidden among the greenery. The resort is bubbly, upscale, and idyllic.
Another Sensei guide, Skyler Stillings, says: She finds a repeater between Sensei Lanai and the new California outpost, Sensei Porcupine Her Creek.
Guests can choose how full or sparse their schedules are. Bring your family or focus on yourself. It’s your own relaxation adventure, customized to cure whatever’s plaguing you, whether it’s job burnout or a more serious illness.
I chose a balanced itinerary, interspersed with one-on-one fitness classes and interspersed with naps and sunbathing. and chose one activity per day.
“A lot of young couples are attending,” says Stillings. “They’re on different journeys, but they support each other. Every day is different, but we sit at the dinner table and reflect on what we’ve learned.”
My partner stuck to the simple runner’s massage and I tried the ‘Thermal Body Mapping Massage’.
A tension that wasn’t sorted by my masseuse, a knot around my shoulder, was passed on to my yoga teacher. He also revealed how to release soft tissue and relieve tight spots with a trigger point ball (“You can use a regular tennis ball at home!”).
Every day, I practiced small tasks to calm my anxious mind. I hated it, but I journaled—for me, a writer by trade, it felt like taking work home. “It’s okay,” Stillings reassures me. “I want it to be a safe place to experiment with change.”
If I felt the need to capture an Instagram moment, I opted for a pocket-sized film camera and left my phone in the room. It often happened.
Of course, it’s easy to have a Gwyneth Paltrow-esque mindset at a luxurious Hawaii resort surrounded by professionals dedicated to achieving my goals. I didn’t really understand.
When I arrived, part of me expected a life-changing experience — as if attending a wellness retreat would lift me to a higher dimension. Spoiler: it wasn’t.
But surprisingly, my takeout still feels tangible at home. Whether you’re in a yoga class or panicking, you’ll have better control over your breathing. Morning stretches in the living room aren’t as quiet as practicing in the fresh island air, but the tranquility remains. I prefer a film camera to a dizzying array of notifications on my phone. These changes to my life are small but mindful. I cherish them.
Actively considering anxiety was not how I planned to spend my vacation. I wanted to physically check in and then mentally check out. While uncomfortable at times, it was much more fulfilling than a normal Snowbird stay. Wellness retreats may not be the quick fix for anxiety or worry, but they have given me a boost of self-awareness I didn’t know I needed.
Kate Dingwall traveled as a guest of Sensei Lanai but has not reviewed or approved this article.
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