Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: The Four Seasons Resort Oahu At Ko OlinaRestaurant Insider
February 2, 2020
Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO
ANNE LEE speaks with resort manager GRAHAM WILLIAMSON, associate director of sales CASSIE CONCHING and executive chef RICHARD POLHEMUS
I had a chance to sit down with the leadership team at the Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina about the upcoming special February kamaaina programs and much more!
The resort, which opened its doors in July 2016, is the perfect place to come with loved ones to celebrate Valentine’s Day and the whole month of February! Please note that reservations are going fast.
Graham Williamson, resort manager, is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the hotel, from the rooms, food and beverage, to the spa.
Cassie Conching, associate director of sales, oversees the group sales team on the property, including incentives and meetings that are held there.
Skillfully supervising all the food at the resort, from all the restaurants to catering and in-room dining, is executive chef Richard Polhemus.
The dedicated, talented team members talk more about their personal backgrounds, duties and the resort, which will celebrate its four-year anniversary this July.
AL: How long have you been here at this resort? What got you into the hospitality industry?
GW: I’ve been here for 18 months. I’ve been with Four Seasons for about 17 years. I grew up in the west of Scotland and fell into the industry sideways. What started as a part-time job became a passion for me. I had the opportunity to move from Glasgow, Scotland to Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, where I met my wife 17 years ago, and traveled the world with the Four Seasons. We are now lucky to be back home in Hawaii.
CC: I’ve been with Four Seasons for about 12 years. The Conching family name is well known in the hospitality industry in the islands. I started in Palo Alto, California and originally wanted to be in public relations and did work in healthcare. Then the Four Seasons opportunity in Palo Alto came along. It’s an incredible company and brand. I found myself drawn to that. I wanted to move back to Hawaii to continue the family tradition, which is something that evolved over the years. My sisters have all moved back within the last five to seven years and it’s been fun to have everyone back and in the same industry.
RP: My ﬁrst job was as a teenager at a German restaurant in Chicago. I went straight to culinary school there. My internship was at the Four Seasons in Chicago and I have been with the company ever since 2005.
AL: What new offerings does the restaurant, spa, resort have to offer?
GW: We love our local clientele and want to impress and offer the Four Seasons experience — that extends to Naupaka Spa & Wellness Centre on property. We have promos to offer 15 percent off discounts on all treatments to our locals. We recently opened a Sensync Vessel, it really focuses on relaxing your mind. We also have a wellness-focused spa menu where guests can order off a menu for a speciﬁc service.
AL: What does Four Seasons bring to the Hawaii food scene?
RP: Noe Italian is focused on Southern Italian cuisine. We have a Japanese chef who was trained in Northern Italy and lived there for 10 years. He speaks ﬂuent Italian and Japanese. We’ve won two Glass Wine Spectator awards here and continue to maintain this accolade.
La Hiki Steak is a premium steak restaurant with a local emphasis on cuisine, such as the Lechon Kawali, our take on the house bacon.
We also have Waterman Bar & Grill where it’s island-inspired light fare, fresh with a healthy focus where guests can enjoy dining poolside.
Lastly, there is Hokulea Cafe and Bar at Hokulea Lounge where we offer craft coffee. The coffee beans are sourced from all over the world, with a focus on Hawaii coffee as well.
AL: What makes the property stand out from others on the island?
GW: We have an amazing kids program called Camp Kohola, Kids for All Seasons program, it extends throughout the resort — from glamming on the rooftop to tennis lessons, critter hunting and swimming with the mermaids. It’s complimentary for guests during their stay. It’s runs 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Parentscan have a “prescription” ﬁlled (alcoholic beverage) from Dr. Mai Tai at the adult pool and kids can hang out at the kids club — everyone’s happy. We have expanded the weekend programming where we allow the babysitting service for kids ages 5-12, where this allows parents to have date night while staying here. And our restaurants, they are as good as any of the other restaurants that I have been to around the world. Noe Italian is my wife’s favorite on the island.
RP: Our food program here at the resort is well-diversiﬁed and offers something for everybody, at every price level. We have lots of options without sacriﬁcing quality.
CC: It’s hard to pick just one, because this resort is pretty incredible. The pools, the rooms, are amazing. The food and beverage by far is something that people will travel from afar to experience, whether they are staying here on island or not.
I know this may sound cheesy , but it’s the people that work here — they make it what it is. The knowledge of the island that our staff brings to our guests is pretty incredible, as most of our staffers are from the surrounding areas. Before we opened as Four Seasons Resort at Ko Olina, there were about 400 rooms and 400 staff, now we have just under 400 rooms, but are at 800 staff, doubling the amount of customer service. Every part of this property is special but it’s the people that make it what it is. Especially for our locals, who come here and get a sense of familiarity
AL: Any fun facts most people wouldn’t know?
GW: Edward Killingsworth was the architect of this property and his original concept when he was building this property was with the atrium style and flanking out to represent a voyaging ship. That translates into our function spaces that are named after old voyaging ships and into current local culture with Hokulea being very relevant as we opened right around the same time they were doing the Malama Honua worldwide voyage.
We have a large and impressive waa (canoe) in the lobby as soon as you ﬁrst walk in.
Kamaaina staycation rates
There is a wonderful kamaaina staycation promotion happening in February at Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina.
Details of the February kamaaina staycations includes rates starting at $369. Based on availability there is guaranteed ocean view or a double upgrade at time of booking; 10 percent off food only (excludes alcohol and room service); and 15 percent off spa treatments. It also includes complimentary Camp Kohola Kids for All Seasons program, $25 valet parking, and $85 green fee at Ko Olina Golf. Kamaaina rates require proof of Hawaii residency at check-in and stay dates are Feb. 1-29.
For information and to book, call 679-0079.
“This month exclusively we are looking to offer a two-room category upgrade,” says resort manager Graham Williamson. Guests can book a mountain view and get upgraded to oceanfront.
There is no resort fee and the resort offers complimentary paddleboards and snorkel equipment, and there are a lot of complimentary amenities that guests can enjoy.
Executive chef Richard Polhemus adds, La Hiki Steak will be offering a “tableside for two” theme for the duration of February.
In addition, Noe Italian will run specials such as the pasta Genovese and a decadent chocolate panna cotta.
Mina’s is offering a three-course prix ﬁxe for $105 with optional $55 wine pairings, with some fun plays on Valentine’s Cuisine, a tray of heart salad and pan roasted opakapaka.
The resort offers Brunch for All Seasons at La Hiki Kitchen on the weekends.