Waihua Spa at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua features tall bamboo and water walls, making guests feel like they are in a secluded forest. // © 2012 Waihua Spa
Hawaii’s environment exudes natural healing energy, creating the perfect setting for exceptional spas. More and more Hawaii spa resorts are paying tribute to time-honored nurturing practices while presenting them in state-of-the-art facilities. Guests come away with both a profound sense of place and a relaxed state of mind and body.
While the islands offer many spa resorts worth visiting, I have chosen five that particularly call to me. Together they reflect the impressive health and wellness travel trends taking place in Hawaii.
Anara Spa, Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa, Kauai
With 45,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor facilities, Anara Spa does a great job of blending Hawaiian traditions with the soothing powers of nature. With its meandering stone paths and lush foliage, Anara’s unique Lokahi Garden features thatched-roof hale (bungalows), each with its own private lava rock shower, steam grotto and soaking tub. The signature Kauai clay body treatment uses ingredients from the island’s rain forests, from therapeutic awa and coconut oil to mineral-rich clay designed to deliver nutrients. Everything feels airy here, from the main courtyard with 11 treatment rooms opening to their own private garden and fountain, to the open-air lava rock showers and 25-yard lap pool. Clients can take part in fitness classes, yoga and personal training in the outdoor movement pavilion, and two courtyard whirlpools ease tired muscles. www.anaraspa.com
Ihilani Spa, Ko Olina Resort, Oahu
Flanked by unspoiled white-sand beaches in sunny west Oahu, this 35,000-square-foot destination spa was recently transformed with first-rate results. Its new layout features a larger ladies’ lounge with a zen garden and meditation area; a new couple’s treatment room; an upgraded fitness center; a private area for the exclusive use of groups; and an improved salon. The focus here is on Thalasso water treatments epitomized by its Healing by the Sea therapy, where hydro jets and air jets massage the body with ocean water while colored lights provide healing properties specific to a certain color. Other hydro treatments include Swiss showers, grand jets, vichy showers and Roman pools. Spa associates can customize fitness and nutrition programs for individuals and groups, and clients can book salon services and take part in aquatics classes. www.ihilanispa.com
Mauna Lani Spa, Mauna Lani Resort, Hawaii Island
Taking its cue from its exceptional natural surroundings of ancient lava as well as the rich history and culture of the area, Mauna Lani Spa is fashioned like a Hawaiian village. Each of its thatched hale has its own distinct tropical scent such as pikake, hibiscus or plumeria. Enhancing the mood is a meditation pavilion and a Hawaiian medicinal garden with lemongrass, ti leaves and kukui nuts. One of most unique elements is its pair of open-air lava saunas, where you apply black volcanic clay to your body, then rinse off in a private outdoor shower using a signature coconut and vanilla body oil. Another must-try is the spa's lava Watsu experience, a type of aquatic body work akin to underwater shiatsu. A variety of Hawaii-inspired treatments are also available in the spa’s nine outdoor hale and indoor treatment rooms. www.maunalani.com
Spa Grande, Grand Wailea, Maui
As the name implies, the scale is huge at the 50,000-square-foot Spa Grande, yet it successfully instills guests with sense of serenity. Combining thalassotherapy with ancient Eastern and Hawaiian philosophies, it features an incredible array of facilities and services for men, women, teens and kids. Its Terme Wailea — free to enjoy for one hour if you’re having a treatment — consists of a series of specialty soaking baths; a cedar sauna and marble steam room; a 35-foot-diameter whirlpool tub; a cascading waterfall massage; a Japanese furo; Hawaiian tropical jet showers; and a complimentary exfoliating body scrub. Also on hand: 40 treatment rooms, a salon, a fitness center, a cycling studio and racquetball and squash courts. For the ultimate indulgence, try the 20-hands duo massage where 10 therapists work on two people. www.grandwailea.com
Waihua Spa, Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, Maui
Named after the healing waters of Waihua — which ancient Hawaiians believed was the purest form of water captured by the leaves of the taro plant — this 17,500-square-foot oasis welcomes guests with handsome wood panels carved with images of taro leaves and a dry stone river bed design. Guests walk through groves of tall bamboo, creating a sense of being in a secluded forest, and water walls enliven the decor. Of its 15 treatment rooms, half of the rooms open to private outdoor shower gardens and many therapies incorporate natural ingredients such as pineapple, papaya, kukui oil, coconut, pumpkin and blueberry. The spa also features a salon, a fitness center, two outdoor couples’ hale, men’s and women’s relaxation areas with lava stone grottos, steam rooms, saunas and whirlpools. Fittingly, its indoor/outdoor relaxation overlooks a taro garden. www.ritzcarlton.com/kapalua