Tyler Florence’s Miller & Lux serves a taste of SF at Four Seasons Hualālai
Chef Tyler Florence's island outpost of Miller & Lux serves the posh steakhouse fare San Franciscans have come to love but in a decidedly more laidback setting. (Courtesy of Four Seasons Hualalai)

Tyler Florence’s Miller & Lux serves a taste of SF at Four Seasons Hualālai


An avid nature lover, I couldn’t wait to escape to Hawaii again, where I imagined I would simply disappear into the lush landscape of a million palms.

Lush first impressions.(Courtesy of Four Seasons Hualalai)

Having only been to Oahu and Maui, I was stunned by what greeted me on the Big Island this spring: In place of sparkling greenery and tropical blooms was a land that is stark, painted black by lava flows long past. It is astoundingly beautiful here, I think, resisting the urge to hop out of the car and hug one of the many wild goats we spot along the “Queen K” road to the Four Seasons Hualālai.

On the North Kona coast, I find the Hawaii I was looking for: The Four Seasons, which completed a major renovation in 2021, is all aloha with traditional leis, cooling towelettes, and mai tais at check-in. Everyone is friendly, and nothing is overly fussy. The architecture is striking but understated with soaring ceilings, warm wood accents, local artifacts, and massive windows that welcome the ocean's breeze.

A golf cart whisks us through 800acres of koa trees in a tropical paradise where I wonder how I’ll find my way back; when we at last reach our room, I realize I won’t want to. Spacious and elegant with an ocean view, ours is the last room at this end of the resort and it’s quiet but for a variety of colorful birds—save one, which turns sandy in color upon its migration from Alaska—chirping at our doorstep. For a closer look at the local wildlife, the nearby King’s Pond—a brackish pool that rises and falls with the ocean’s tide—is stocked with more than 60 species of aquatic life and is open for swimming. Rent a snorkel to say aloha to Kainalu, the resident eagle ray who celebrates his 29th birthday this year.

The Hualalai ocean pool.(Courtesy of Four Seasons Hualalai)

But as Hawaiian as this all sounds, I've actually escaped to the Big Island to do something all too San Franciscan: I'm here to dine at chef Tyler Florence's now five-month-old restaurant. He is mourning the Warriors’ loss against the Kings when we meet at his island outpost of Miller & Lux, which shares its original home with the Dubs at SF's Chase Center. For anyone who's visited that Art Deco–inspired, Ken Fulk–designed space in the city, you can imagine the vibe is quite different here—less slick champion home turf and more what Florence describes as "Hemingway goes to Hawaii and Japan."

And one can easily imagine Papa Hem throwing back daiquiris against a backdrop of sunset and palms, overlooking the Hualālai Golf Course’s 18th green through the open floor-to-ceiling windows. But he'd have to settle for an an Island Old Fashioned or a glass of Miller & Lux Chardonnay while pouring over the menu options, that famous caesar salad for starters. On this occasion, the lettuce actually arrives in the nude at our table, still in little soil-packed pots. It is cut and mixed on the spot by Florence with more than a dash of flair. The dish is a champ, as salads go.

But the M.V.P. of the Miller & Lux roster is the restaurant’s signature tomahawk steak, which weighs in at 46 ounces and is, according to the chef, "the best steak in America." (We went back for it a second night, just saying.) For the less meaty among us, a Dover sole is skillfully deboned tableside and served with silky potato purée, creamed kale from nearby Hirabara Farms, and ali’i mushrooms with miso glaze and black garlic. For dessert, we ordered one of everything—actually! If you like a bit of drama (as, naturally, a TV chef does), go for the bananas foster for two with Hawaiian vanilla bean gelato, Macadamia nut brittle, and banana bread.

Chef Tyler Florence opened his Miller & Lux here in December 2023 and has plans to open a cattle ranch nearby that will supply the restaurant with beef.(Courtesy of Four Seasons Hualalai)

As we've come to expect in San Francisco also, sustainability is a priority at all four of Four Seasons Hualālai's restaurants, which includes the gorgeous new ‘Ulu Sushi Lounge where the Big Island's culinary bounty stars in dishes such as a big eye tuna tartare with king crab butter and caviar, one of the best bites of our trip. In fact, 75 percent of the resort’s restaurant ingredients are sourced from local farmers and fisheries, and the restaurants share an onsite herb garden and oyster pond which is currently growing 30,000 oysters for guests to enjoy. (The project began in earnest after the oysters thrived as part of an effort to keep the property’s shrimp pond clean.) Chef Tyler is also cooking up plans for his own cattle ranch where he will raise Macadamia nut–finished beef for Miller & Lux.

There are things to do here besides eat—it’s always swimsuit weather, after all. There are eight swimming pools including two quiet pools, and the Hualālai Spa where I highly recommend an invigorating pineapple body polish. If you're feeling posh, reserve the spa after hours to enjoy the new Moonlight Massage Experience, which begins in the steam room or sauna before a traditional Lomi Lomi massage by candlelight, and finishes with Champagne in the spa’s tropical garden.

More adventurous travelers can sign up for a number of experiences like deep-sea fishing, snorkeling, and SUP. For something more luxe, "Only at Hualālai" experiences will teach you blacksmithing, free diving, and wooden surfboard shaping with local craftspeople. We chose to get lost with a private charter on Alaka’i Nui, the resort’s new 46-foot catamaran, to explore the Big Island’s coastline with its black sand beaches and remote island digs of the rich and famous. One can dream.

// Make reservations at fourseasons.com/hualalai. Closer to home, visit Miller & Lux, 700 Terry Francois Blvd. (Mission Bay) millerandluxrestaurant.com.

Indoor-outdoor R&R awaits at the spa.(Courtesy of Four Seasons Hualalai)

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