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Four Seasons Resort Hualalai

  • 72-100 Ka`upulehu Drive, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, 96740, U.S.A.
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Erin Lee

Director of Landscaping
"Everyone deserves to know how to grow their own food. I learned so much from different people in my life from seasoned farmers to home gardeners. I now wish to inspire and share that knowledge with others in hopes they can take one or two things away that will help in their lives."

 

Four Seasons Tenure

  • Since 2000
  • First Four Seasons Assignment: Landscape Manager

Employment History

  • Mauna Kea Resort, Lokelani Gardens

Birthplace

  • Honolulu, Hawaii, USA  

Education

  • BS in Tropical Agriculture, University of Hawaii at Hilo; ISA Certified Arborist; PLANET-CLT Certifications

Languages Spoken

  • English

Erin Lee, Director of Landscaping, has been overseeing the lush, tropical oasis at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai and residential neighbourhoods since 2000, including all the fruits and vegetables grown at the herb gardens.  Her team of 75 gardeners and landscapers covers more than 800 acres (325 hectares) filled with native Hawaiian plants including makaloa, beach heliotrope and naupaka. Lee also sources non-native species from other tropical regions brought over to Hawaii through generations of immigration.

A true farmer at heart, Lee previously owned and operated one of the most sought-after and award-winning vine-ripened tomato farms in Hawaii, Lokelani Gardens, where she supplied many top restaurants and hotels.  It took Lee years of testing more than 40 varieties of tomatoes to find the perfect variety called "champion,” which grew best at 2,700 foot (825 metre) elevation.  One of Lee’s biggest supporters through this journey was Chef Peter Merriman of Merriman’s restaurant group, who is considered one of the original farm-to-table chefs in the state, fusing the best local ingredients with gourmet recipes. Lee would deliver these tomatoes straight from her garden and Chef Merriman would comment that they were the best tomatoes he’s ever eaten.  

Now at the Resort, Lee brings that same level of passion and dedication to all of her many projects from perfecting Japanese eggplants for the chefs to finding the perfect shrubs to enhance the many meandering pathways.  Lee also leads guests on private tours, sharing her knowledge about the landscape in the hopes she can help inspire people and become an example of all that is possible when working with a variety of plants.  Lee has carefully and masterfully used ground cover, shrubs, trees and overhead canopies to create a thriving tropical oasis in what was once a barren lava field.  

Lee keeps the grounds at the Resort immaculate, however at home she considers herself a creative farmer, allowing the plants to grow how and where they please.  At her home garden she sees the beauty in all stages of plant life, and is less concerned with esthetics and focuses on the overall health and happiness of the plant.

“When cared for properly, plants and trees can thrive for hundreds of years. I'm always thinking about the future, and I like to think that I can leave something positive behind for the next generation through being a shepherd for plants - gathering, collecting and nurturing. Planting a seed is a hopeful sign that there is always something better tomorrow and for many years to come.”

Outside of caring for the acres of lush grounds in every corner of the Resort, Erin enjoys spending time with her partner and daughter, playing the Okinawan taiko drum, travelling, and photography.