The Sensei Way

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Story by Lara McGlashan

Sensei
Have breakfast, lunch or dinner alongside the koi pond at Sensei by Nobu Restaurant.

It’s afternoon when I disembark the ferry in Lāna‘i and hop into a Tesla shuttlebus. We trek up the southern side of the island, then level out as we cross a large open plateau, the crater of a now-defunct volcano, where for decades Dole grew the majority of the world’s pineapples. We pass through Lāna‘i City and go up a long hill to a circular driveway which skirts around an enormous banyan tree to arrive at Sensei.

The resort is the brainchild of Larry Ellison and Dr. David Agus, who, shaken by the sudden loss of a close friend, wanted to create a place where people could come to improve all aspects of wellness, from movement to nutrition to relaxation and more. The result was Sensei, a facility that uses an evidence-based, data-driven approach to healthy living — in a luxury resort setting.

My three-day experience is a somewhat accelerated version of the optimum well-being program. The idea is that three pillars — Move, Nourish and Rest — need to be in balance for peak health, and experts in exercise physiology, nutrition, stress management, yoga, mindfulness and more help guests accomplish certain goals, such as being more active, eating healthier or learning how to decompress and relax. For me, movement and clean eating are rote, but rest and relaxation — that’s my Achilles heel.

After settling into my suite — a bright, well-appointed room with a spacious lānai — I meet with my program guide, exercise physiologist Dr. Kyle Silvey. Silvey is amiable and easygoing, and we discuss my lifestyle and activity level and arrive at an itinerary which allows me to sample all the pillars of the Sensei programming with an emphasis on decompression and relaxation. Silvey gathers some metrics such as blood pressure, body composition and functional movement patterns and sends me on my way.

Sensei Lanai food
At Sensei, dining is not only about the enjoyment of a meal, but also how an individual feels after eating it.

With a few hours to kill before dark, I take a walk around the 24-acre property. Though it’s only a few years old, the landscaping is flourishing in the cool-yet-tropical clime — mature trees, variegated bromeliads, Jurassic-like cycads and orchids of all shapes and sizes. Sculptures are positioned artfully throughout the grounds, including works by Fernando Botero and Robert Indiana. I stroll around the lagoon and pass a yoga pavilion, 10 spa hale (buildings), two movement studios and a 24-hour fitness facility to arrive back at my room. Unwinding process: begun.

The next morning, I take a 4.9-mile hike to Koloiki Ridge. The trail is fairly easy to navigate, and at the top I am rewarded with a bird’s-eye view of the northern side of Lāna‘i and Shipwreck Beach below; across the channel, the rich green mountains of Moloka‘i stand in sharp relief against an impossibly blue sky.

For breakfast, I decide to try the fare at the Sensei by Nobu Restaurant, an airy glass pavilion set beside a koi pond. The meals here are clean, organic and local; the resort grows much of its own produce at Sensei Farm. I choose flaxseed pancakes with a house-made berry compote, which is delicious, then head upstairs to meet my Mindset 1:1 expert, Marcus Washington.

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