I Soaked Myself in a Hawaiian “Freshwater Heaven” at Laniwai Spa


Laniwai Spa

The word lanai (lah-nee-vai) means “freshwater heaven” in the Hawaiian language. Early Hawaiians used water together with massage to help restore the body. They bathed in fresh cool streams, mineral and sulfur baths, and the sea to wash away daily aches and pains. Today, guests at Laniwai can experience some of the same native water therapies and massage treatments.

Laniwai is the first Disney-owned and managed spa in the world and Disney’s attention to detail and customer service shines through each and every aspect of the spa. “Lanai Spa is a place where everyone will feel special,” says Lucia Rodriguez, spa director. “The design embraces the cultural and even the spiritual significance of anuenue, or rainbows, by combining elegantly reflected light, brilliant color and healing water features.”


Located outdoors is the 5,000-square-feet Kula Wai Hydrotherapy Garden – Oahu’s only outdoor Hydrotherapy Garden – featuring vitality baths, herbal pools, a reflexology path, and six unique Waterfall Rain Showers.

The 18,000-square-foot indoor Laniwai Spa area includes a 2,000 square-foot Mikimiki Fitness Center, 15 treatment rooms, men and women’s dressing rooms with eucalyptus-infused steam rooms, dry saunas and relaxation rooms.

In addition, the entire family can enjoy a spa treatment together in a private family suite!  Sample family treatments include: Ohana, a massage especially designed for 3 to 6 family members and Ka Makana – the Gift, a massage for Mom, Dad and Baby. Couples can also enjoy spa treatments such as Honi Honi “Sealed with a Kiss” Duet. This treatment begins with a LomiLomi couples massage, followed by a tropical body butter kiss.


Laniwai is also home to the only teen spa in Hawaii, Painted Sky, which features a yogurt bar, perfume bar, services such as massage, manicures/pedicures and organic body therapies, and “after hours” teen events.


My Laniwai Experience

I recently had the opportunity to experience first-hand this “freshwater heaven.” Arriving for my manicure/pedicure (and later massage) I am warmly greeted in the reception area and escorted to a pre-service waiting area where I am served Mamaki Tea (local Hawaiian tea) and a healthy cupcake (carrot zucchini) topped with a beautiful purple orchid.


I have the choice of organic products for my manicure/pedicure, which I select, choosing a blue-green polish called Coastal Waters to remind me of the beautiful ocean views at Aulani. I’m already in heaven when I discover that the manicure/pedicure salon area features all massage chairs. Adjusting my settings, I lean back and relax while I am pampered.

After my manicure/pedicure, I’m led to the ladies relaxation room with comfortable S-shaped lounges. I relax with a magazine, over-indulging in the delicious chocolate covered blueberries and raspberries which are made locally by the Honolulu Chocolate Company. I quickly quell my guilt by eating an apple.

Soon I’m ushered into the massage room for my Hana Pohaku LomiLomi Massage (meaning “to work with stones”). This heated stone massage combines rhythmic gliding with soothing hot stones to relax tense muscles. Unique to Hawaii, this massage was originally practiced by Master Kahunas (spiritual leaders). Metaphorically, LomiLomi means, “to return to the Source, to remember ones true nature and our purpose for being.”


After my massage I explore Kula Wai, the outdoor Hydrotherapy Garden. I enjoy a cold plunge and then a relaxing dip in the hot tub. Walking barefoot on the reflexology path, I make my way to the Waterfall Rain Showers. Fantabulous! Fun! and Unique! is how I would describe this experience.

Before I leave, I meet a spa attendant at the Pula Bar (outdoor mixology station). I select from a variety of aromas, herbs, and essential oils to make a customized body polish/scrub to take home with me. I choose the Plumeria Body Scrub because it’s my favorite new flower scent I’ve discovered since coming to Hawaii. I combine a sugar mix, tapioca powder, oil, rose petals and Plumeria essential oil in a small container.

As I leave the spa, I’m already dreaming of returning to experience another great afternoon in “Freshwater Heaven at Laniwai Spa.”

By Sandra Chambers

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