Bask in the peaceful, palacial property of Four Seasons Lanai, the Lodge at Koele

Two world-weary women sat at the edge of a pristine pond on a postcard-perfect Saturday morning. As neighboring jewel-toned bushes of bougainvillea danced in swathes of sunshine and endless emerald expanses of lawn stretched before, behind and around them, one turned to the other and drew a long, deep breath.

“This,” she said dreamily to her friend, “is the first time I’ve had a chance to sit still in long, long time.”

Such are the underappreciated forms of luxury – the privilege of a cathartic exhale, the entitlement to a blue sky view and the refreshing empowerment of having time seem to pause, just once, for you.

And such is the luxury offered at Four Seasons Lanai, The Lodge at Koele.

Completed in 2006, this branch of the Four Seasons family tree grew into its own after a re-branding and renovation of Castle & Cook’s longstanding incarnation of The Lodge at Koele. C&C chairman David Murdock, who bought 98 percent of the island of Lanai back in 2000, sought to revive the former “Pineapple Island,” acknowledging that Lanai’s most extolled features – scenic natural beauty, gracious residents and unadulterated “Old Hawaii” charm – make it a surprisingly remarkable travel destination. Enter Four Seasons, which came into the Koele project with its world-renowned brand of hospitality; Koele employees were trained to deliver Four Seasons’ fine points of service by industry veterans at the award-winning Wailea Resort on Maui. With $50 million invested in Four Seasons Lanai, The Lodge at Koele (and another $50 million in its sister resort, Four Seasons Lanai at Manele Bay), Lanai’s potential as an idyllic island getaway is becoming known to more and more travelers seeking a unique respite.

In a day, it’s impossible to fully grasp the island’s mystique and slow down to its “no traffic light to be seen” pace of life. But at Four Seasons Lanai, The Lodge at Koele, a day among its amenities and activities is enough to forget that a bustling world exists beyond an extended fireplace conversation, a game of miniature golf and an uninterrupted nap under the coziest duvet covers ever made.

A half-hour flight from Honolulu and a 10-minute shuttle ride from Lanai City airport to the Lodge was already enough to throw my socially conditioned “New York minute” mentality for a loop. Once at the Lodge with one of my best friends wide-eyed in awe beside me, there was an audible gasp at the expanse before us: gleaming dark wood floors, towering fireplaces on both ends of the Great Hall, flanking in place an array of tables, chairs and couches arranged and upholstered with the florals, pastels and paisleys of a classy New England country living room. It’s here that the Lodge serves afternoon tea and cocktails. It’s here that a bibliophile would find a day with a good book a worthwhile getaway in itself.

The feel of an East Coast abode gets shaken up a bit as we’re led down a few halls to our room. Asian art and artifacts line the premises – a statue of Buddha to our left, a dragon sculpture to our right, an authentic Chinese medicine cabinet by the gift shop. Four Seasons, the Lodge at Koele seems almost part artand-history museum, treating its guests to a tour-worthy array of priceless décor.

“The art around The Lodge is from the personal collection of David Murdock,” says Brad Packer, director of public relations at Four Seasons Resorts Lanai. “He has traveled the world over, and the resorts act as his galleries for his collections, for everyone to enjoy.”

And an enjoyable sight those relics were en route to our Koele Deluxe room. But the room proved to be almost artistic in its own right. A turn of the knob gave way to an inviting abode, its rose-printed window shades, cushion-dotted window nook and blanket-draped, white-pillowed beds beckoning with a guard-dropping sense of “home.” Accommodations at the Lodge run from $295 per night for a Garden Room, to $1,300 for the Great Hall Fireplace Suite. All, however, offer the same basic-but-luxe amenities: a 40-inch flat screen LCD TV, DVD/CD player, impressive marble bathrooms and a private balcony overlooking the resort’s breathtaking Great Lawn.

To which my friend and I would venture next. We took a walk through the pine-lined Great Lawn, pausing to partake of the intricately planted foliage, a cute house filled with orchids and a genuine Chinese pagoda (made without nails) overlooking hundreds of swimming koi. All lost serenity was regained in that beautiful stroll.

Activities abound for guests seeking more than a walk in the park. The Lodge offers everything from a fitness center to shooting sports at a nearby facility, to a full round of golf at The Experience at Koele course. Guests less-athletically inclined can try their skills at the Executive Putting course – compared to Honolulu’s miniature golf courses more suited for birthday party putters, this one requires real skill, with 18 holes of actual fairways-and-rough teeing.

Grand as activities are, the ultimate indulgence at The Lodge is a massage at the private Banyan Spa Suite. Privileged enough to enjoy the services of masseuse Joe West, my Lomi Lomi massage was a 50-minute reprieve from stress’ physical toll, with east-meets-west massage and therapy techniques.

Dinner at The Dining Room was an unforgettable experience, with a menu boasting the best in local ingredients. My friend sampled Lanai’s fare in an entree of macadamia nut crusted venison, and I partook of an oven-roasted Colorado lamb loin crusted with Provencale herbs. The service was prompt and thoughtful; the food, delightful.

We woke the next morning to the smell of freshly made coffee and scones, and indulged in a beautfiul Lanai sunrise. Breakfast at the Terrace Restaurant was an interesting taste of Hawaii-inspired dishes, with the Koele Alii plate of poached eggs, lobster, potatoes and veggies, as well as the Hawaiian Rancheros, with kalua pork fried rice.

With our fill of Lanai, my friend and I sat awaiting our shuttle back to civilization. Wondering how to describe our experience, I couldn’t have put it better than a guest did to a bellman:

“If the Garden of Eden existed, it would be just like this.”