To Your Health

Clients rejuvenate at the third annual LifeFest

By: Jamie Wetherbe

Anti-oxidants seemed to be the buzz word, and after a quick BioPhotonic scan of my hand, I learned I was in short supply. But while at the third annual LifeFest on Maui, there were plenty of vitamins, supplements and elixirs to get me back on track.

LifeFest, which took place Sept. 8-10, is hailed as Hawaii’s premier health and wellness event designed to “educate the mind, rejuvenate the spirit, encourage physical fitness and highlight indigenous Hawaiian cultural and spiritual practices.”

For the weekend, the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, opened its ballrooms and boardrooms to health experts’ lectures and workshops, and a fairly even mix of about 3,100 residents and visitors alike lined up to pay anywhere from $20 per activity to $195 for a Power Pass allowing access to most events.

Five-night accommodation packages with LifeFest tickets were available at the Ritz for $2,090-$2,350, and the nearby Kapalua Villas featured two-night packages ranging from $848-$1,208.

While the event is growing into more of a signature event for the Ritz, few guests at this point, seemed to travel specifically to Hawaii for LifeFest.

LifeFest Learning

With sessions kicking off as early as 5 a.m. and wrapping up around dinnertime, clients could attend some 20 events in a day although there was some overlap. Between sessions, clients could check out the expo to sample and buy health-related products, including healing music, touch therapies, mineral make up, local art, dietary information and clothing.

As a fan of any exercise that also involves sweets, I opted to start my morning with “The Yoga + Chocolate Experience: Melt Your Heart, Free Your Mind.” During this 90-minute workout, David Romanelli guided participates through a series of poses while pausing every so often to snack on dark chocolate. The idea is to heighten the yoga experience and also to get some, perhaps much-needed, anti-oxidants in the body. Romanelli, who has been featured in The New York Times, teaches classes in Venice and Santa Monica, Calif., and offers wine and yoga retreats.

In addition to cooking demonstrations and lectures, including “Is Your Diet Making You Sick?” and “Living Cuisine and The Balanced Plate,” LifeFest also focused on ways to stay young. Clients could learn about a variety of cutting-edge anti-aging therapies again, anti-oxidants were among the key topics.

Keeping with tradition, LifeFest hosted events focused on indigenous Hawaiian practices, including a purification sweat house, a hands-on spiritual healing demonstration designed to release emotional blockages and restore balance (pono) and harmony (huikala), as well as a rare chance to meet chief Sonne Reyna, who discussed secrets of native ceremonial healing.

The keynote speakers also drew quite a crowd. In a rare island appearance, best-selling author and world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine Dr. Andrew Weil discussed lifestyle practices to promote graceful aging and optimal health to a sold-out crowd.

In perhaps a less-expected topic considering the venue, Yahoo! veteran turned life coach Tim Sanders told the audience how they could be more, well, likeable. The Likeability Factor (or L-Factor), Sanders said depends on “your ability to consistently produce positive experiences in others regardless of situation.”

And according to Sanders, likeable people are not only able to maintain positive relationships, but also tend to receive better health care and often find greater success in the workplace.

After all that sitting during lectures, clients could work on their moves with sessions like belly dancing and ChiRunning. I headed to the “Healing Movements: Salsa” class, taught by a local instructor. Ashley Mueller, of The Studio Maui, took our group through the basic salsa steps, and we even learned a turn or two.

At the end of the hour-long class, my partner looked at me and said: “You really need to work on those steps.”

I guess there’s always next year.


David Romanelli
(Yoga retreats)

Kapalua Resort
The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua

The Studio Maui