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When stressed-out clients imagine a rejuvenating vacation, their thoughts often turn to a massage as part of the itinerary. On Kauai, however, spa treatments are just the tip of the volcano when it comes to opportunities for a renewal of body and spirit.
Kauai shares a range of refreshing activities as varied as the people who seek them out. In fact, as part of the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau’s recently revamped branding message, Kauai’s unique catchphrase is “rejuvenating.”
“The message of rejuvenation runs throughout all of our efforts to market the island,” said Sue Kanoho, executive director of the Kauai Visitors Bureau. “We highlight images that feature Kauai’s incredible scenery, hoping that will entice people to come and see what sets our island apart from other destinations.”
Kauai’s slower pace allows clients to enjoy the gifts of the island’s healing environment in a variety of ways, Kanoho added.
“Kauai touches visitors with her natural beauty on so many levels,” she said. “Some people find rejuvenation during an exhilarating zipline ride, while for others having an outdoor body treatment provides that special connection to recharge their batteries. It is all up to the individual and what speaks to them.”
Massages are an obvious path to relaxation, and practitioners on Kauai are doing extraordinary things to help take them there. For instance, while many spas around the islands offer traditional Hawaiian lomi lomi massage, Hanalei Day Spa — located adjacent to Hanalei Colony Resort on the North Shore — presents it in a beachfront hale (thatched roof structure).
“For some reason, lomi lomi feels more authentic when it is received next to the beach,” said Hanalei Day Spa owner and manager Darci Frankel. “There is a feeling of being close to nature with the fresh Kauai breezes, the delicate smell of the ocean and the rhythmic movements of our massage therapists.”
Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort’s Anara Spa rejuvenates clients with its own treatments that emphasize a sense of place. Its exclusive Kauai clay ritual, designed to detoxify and purify the skin, includes a drizzle of warm coconut oil; an exfoliation using hot stones and the native awa root; a mask of Kauai clay infused with organic island ingredients; a rinse in an open-air lava-rock shower; and a full-body massage using a rich rainforest botanical cream.
“The clay ritual truly instills the aura of peace that Kauai offers,” said Anara Spa director Joe Herman. “With its vast, lush landscape, Kauai often feels quieter and more peaceful than other islands.”
At St. Regis Princeville Resort, Halelea Spa’s rainforest shower and taro butter polish honors the traditional uses of maile, a rare leaf handpicked in the island’s native rain forests.
“Maile was the chosen lei of Hawaiian royalty because of its fragrance and beauty,” said Halelea Spa director Darcie DeBartelo. “The combination of Kauai sugar infused with maile aroma, organic coconut oil, cocoa butter and grapefruit-seed extract cleanses the skin and revitalizes the aloha spirit.”
Beyond the traditional spa setting, tightly wound travelers can find rejuvenation at Kahuna Valley, a six-acre sanctuary in Kauai’s central highlands. There, clients can take part in healing exercises like yoga and the Chinese practice of qigong. Guests can also experience watsu (water therapy) in a solar-heated saltwater pool where aches and pains float away.
“Many of Kauai’s soothing activities involve water,” said Rhonda Shumway of Terramar Travel in Hemet, Calif. “One of my favorites is snorkeling and seeing rare green sea turtles. Swimming beside these peaceful, slow-moving animals is incredibly rejuvenating.”
Or how about a private horseback ride combined with yoga? That’s the latest addition to the menu at Princeville Ranch on the north shore. A certified yoga instructor shows clients how to stretch in tandem with their steeds, then leads the group on a ride while teaching techniques to strengthen the bond between human and horse. On-ground meditation in a pristine valley is part of the three-hour tour.
For another path toward restoration, travel agents can steer their clients toward some refreshing Kauai events. The Happiness Planting Festival in Lihue on June 16, aims to nurture joy through arts, crafts, food and entertainment. At the Grand Hyatt Kauai, the Na Lima Hana Festival, running from Oct. 18-20, includes sessions on Hawaiian herbal healing and Chinese medicine plus yoga and meditation classes.
For Kanoho, the path to rejuvenation on Kauai can be as basic as watching the sun dip into the sea.
“After a few days on our island, harried travelers notice a change to a more relaxed attitude, a new appreciation for the simple things such as a sunrise, sunset or walk in a garden,” said Kanoho. “When people leave the island, they begin counting the days until they can return again to immerse themselves in our natural, rejuvenating setting.”