GO­ING BIG ON THE BIG IS­LAND

Four Sea­sons Re­sort Hualalai's Ul­ti­mate Pop- Up Vol­cano Ad­ven­ture brings Four Sea­sons com­forts t o the east side of Hawai‘ i Is­land.

HILuxury - - IMMERSION - by MAR­GARET KEARNS

IT'S EARLY MORN­ING AT ONE OF THE NA­TION'S MOST PRES­TI­GIOUS RESORTS  OUR THIRD DAY EN­JOY­ING PAM­PERED LUX­URY AT FOUR SEA­SONS RE­SORT HUALALAI—AND we're stand­ing on a golf fair­way as our pri­vate he­li­copter ap­proaches, touch­ing down lightly right on sched­ule.

To­gether with one ad­di­tional cou­ple, we are about to em­bark on 27 hours of ul­tra-luxe ad­ven­ture travel around the di­verse and uber-scenic Is­land of Hawai‘ i. Our des­ti­na­tion—the world's most ac­tive vol­cano, Ki­lauea, which has been erupt­ing con­tin­u­ously since 1983.

Within min­utes, we are em­bark­ing on an ad­ven­ture of a life­time that’s beyond all ex­pec­ta­tions.

Th e Ul­ti­mate Pop-Up Vol­cano Ad­ven­ture was in­tro­duced by Four Sea­sons Hualalai in late Fe­bru­ary, and is a se­lec­tively cu­rated tour of the is­land's most spec­tac­u­lar lo­ca­tions, many of which are ac­ces­si­ble only by he­li­copter. An overnight stay at a se­cluded rain­for­est cot­tage, com­pletely re-imag­ined as a Four Sea­sons ex­pe­ri­ence while re­tain­ing the tran­quil charm of its lo­ca­tion, pro­vides fa­mil­iar com­fort and style to the long day of tour­ing.

“Ev­ery de­tail of the cot­tage has been care­fully con­sid­ered, in­clud­ing the in­stal­la­tion of our Four Sea­sons beds, bed­ding, bath linens and ameni­ties,” Pa­trick Pol­lak, Four Sesons Hualalai Ho­tel Man­ager,

says. “One of our re­sort chefs is on-hand to pre­pare din­ner and break­fast, along with two Four Sea­sons em­ployee am­bas­sadors to en­sure our guests' ev­ery needs and wants are at­ten­tively cared for.”

While ev­ery Pop-Up Ad­ven­ture is planned well ahead of the guests' ar­rival at the re­sort via de­tailed phone con­sul­ta­tions to cus­tom­ize the jour­ney, the sched­ule is highly flex­i­ble through­out the trip to max­i­mize en­joy­ment and last minute re­quests, ac­cord­ing to Pol­lak.

To fur­ther tan­ta­lize your luxe ad­ven­ture spirit, our ex­cel­lent ad­ven­ture un­folded in the ex­quis­ite and thrilling way that fol­lows.

Just min­utes be­fore 9 a.m., a chauf­feur­driven golf cart ar­rives at our dreamy guest room and de­liv­ers us to the he­li­copter land­ing spot on the Hualalai Golf Course—one of two cham­pi­onship cour­ses lo­cated at the re­sort. Within min­utes, we are em­bark­ing on an ad­ven­ture of a life­time that's beyond all ex­pec­ta­tions.

Head­ing north along the dra­matic, lava-strewn Ko­hala Coast with its nu­mer­ous white-sand beaches and jewel-toned ocean wa­ters, we soon are soar­ing higher over the Ko­hala moun­tains renowned for their lush deep val­leys and skysca­per-high wa­ter­falls. In fact, our first stop is at a pris­tine—and re­fresh­ingly cool—pond at the foot of one of these wa­ter­falls.

Sur­rounded by Juras­sic Park-style trop­i­cal fo­liage, we take a quick dip and then sun on large boul­ders af­ter­wards to re­lax and dry off. The si­lence, soli­tude and beauty are ab­so­lute bliss.

Back on board, we head east over the Ko­ha­las soar­ing through time to view an an­cient Hawai­ian set­tle­ment that re­mains

hap­pily un­touched. De­scen­dants of these early Hawai­ians—gen­er­a­tions re­moved from their an­ces­tors—con­tinue to live sus­tain­ably and peace­fully in Waipi‘o Val­ley to­day. We view horses run­ning wild along the river which flows through the deep, broad val­ley to the gleam­ing black sand beach and Pa­cific beyond; res­i­dents cul­ti­vat­ing taro fi elds in the tra­di­tional way ; and chick­ens and pigs run­ning wild to avoid end­ing up on the evening's din­ner ta­ble. While a few tour­ing SUVs are vis­i­ble, res­i­dents travel the dirt road­ways in the same way they have for cen­turies—via foot or horse­back.

Head­ing south now along the ver­dant and wild Ha­makua Coast, we make our sec­ond land­ing in an ex­clu­sive, lim­ited ac­cess trop­i­cal par­adise for a catered gourmet lunch—in a word, de­li­cioius! We pause in this mag­i­cal place be­fore con­tin­u­ing south and land­ing at Komokuna for a guided hike near the point in­side Hawai‘ i Vol­ca­noes Na­tional Park, where more than a mil­lion gal­lons of lava flow into the ocean ev­ery hour. This flow is ex­pand­ing Hawai‘ i Is­land along its south­east coast. Th e fi ery power of the lava en­ter­ing the ocean is truly a life-chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ence

Re­turn­ing to our he­li­copter we find a sur­prise guest wait­ing to join us—one of the world's fore­most vol­ca­nol­o­gists sta­tioned here. He shares his ex­per­tise and an­swers ques­tions as we fly above the throb­bing and lava lake in­side Ki­lauea Vol­cano's caldera and view stream­ing, red hot lava flow­ing down­hill. Un­earthly and thor­oughly thrilling, it's a scene we will never for­get.

With the sun low­er­ing on the hori­zon, we ar­rive just a few min­utes later at our home for the night. A charm­ing cot­tage sit­u­ated on 30 acres of a pre­served 1,000-year-old rain­for­est. Th e Four Sea­sons team greets us with cool tow­els and bev­er­ages be­fore pro­vid­ing a tour of the en­chant­ing grounds fi lled with rare bird species and botan­i­cals, and then guid­ing us through the ca­su­ally el­e­gant, pleas­antly rus­tic and com­fort­able cot­tage.

We en­joy some down­time in our pri­vate en­suite room, be­fore ral­ly­ing for a Cham­pagne re­cep­tion and evening of culi­nary de­lights pre­pared to per­fec­tion by the de­light­ful Four Sea­sons chef.

Star gaz­ing—com­plete with tele­scopes and an ex­pert as­tronomer fa­mil­iar with the is­land skies—and s'mores around the gar­den's fire pit cap the per­fect day.

With much to see and do on day two, we say good-bye to our Four Sea­sons hosts fol­low­ing a some­what deca­dent, amaz­ingly de­li­cious break­fast rem­i­nis­cent of Four Sea­sons Hualalai ex­tra­or­di­nary daily break­fasts of­fered at the re­sort's ocean­front ‘ ULU restau­rant.

Up in the air again with our now fa­mil­iar pi­lot, we're off to ex­plore the Ka‘u Coast's dra­matic cliffs, sap­phire blue, deep off-shore wa­ters, cof­fee and cit­rus farms. Af­ter an aerial view of the South­ern-most spot in the United States, we land at a pri­vate beach for two hours of swimming and sun­ning be­fore round­ing the Is­land's South­ern tip and head­ing north along the his­toric South Kona Coast ( home to the City of Refuge and Kealakekua Bay, the site of Cap­tain Cook's mon­u­ment) back to the Four Sea­sons just in time for lunch …

Th e Ul­ti­mate Pop-Up Vol­cano Ad­ven­ture is avail­able ex­clu­sively to ho­tel guests and home­own­ers at Four Sea­sons Re­sort Hualalai. Off ered to a max­i­mum of four per trip, it is priced at $39,500 for the 27-hour overnight ex­pe­ri­ence. For more in­for­ma­tion and to re­serve you space, call (808) 325-8000.

Get up-close and per­sonal to the world's most ac­tive vol­cano, but not be­fore stay­ing overnight in a tran­quil rain­for­est cot­tage ( pho­tos cour­tesy Four Sea­sons Ho­tels and Resorts).

This epic Big Is­land ad­ven­ture also in­cludes some well-de­served down­time at your cot­tage, in­clud­ing stargaz­ing, swimming on a pri­vate beach and a gourmet din­ner ( pho­tos cour­tesy Four Sea­sons Ho­tels and Resorts).

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