Maui Spa Adventures


By Sandra Chambers

Surrounded by breath-taking mountains, soothing ocean breezes, and a relaxing calm that permeates the island culture, a visit to Maui is not complete without indulging in at least one rejuvenating spa treatment.

The word maui actually means “life, alive, to live” in the Hawaiian language. To the early peoples of Hawaii, the earth, the sea, and the mountains were all intertwined with a person’s health, and well being. Embracing that same philosophy today, Maui’s spas offer many indigenous treatments that have been passed down from generation to generation.

There are many excellent spas to choose from on the island, but I have chosen three to review based on personal experience, or that of another journalist traveling with our group this past September.

Makena Kai Day Spa

Located at Makena Beach & Golf Resort in Wailea, HI.

“Makena Kai Day Spa is a spa without walls,” explains Debbe Evans, Operations Director for Hawaiian Rainforest Spas, which provides hotel-based spa services at ten Hawaii locations. “The majority of treatments are enjoyed oceanside where the sounds of waves in concert with views of one of the world’s best beaches creates a perfect combination of heaven on earth.”

Makena Beach & Golf Resort was my first destination on Maui, and after a long flight from the East Coast my body desperately needed a massage to reduce the stress and back pain associated with a long flight. I selected the Hawaiian LomiLomi Massage and elected to have it ocean side in the open-air, thatched beach cabanas.

The late afternoon ocean breeze had kicked in, and the fading sunlight created a gorgeous sky and ocean view. My massage therapist began with long, gliding strokes using the forearm and gentle rhythmic motions which characterizes this style of massage. She explained that traditionally this massage was taught on temple grounds by Master Kahunas (spiritual leaders). It was a healing tradition beyond simple massage and was conducted with prayer and intention to bring the body, mind and spirit into alignment.

Originally, a person had to be chosen to perform LomiLomi, but today it is widely taught and practiced in the Islands. Metaphorically, LomiLomi means, “to return to the Source.” This massage can also be paired with hot stone therapy. Other upgrades include a warm coconut oil scalp massage and aromatherapy with pure essential oils.

Two fellow travellers, Kent and Caanan, sum up their experience of a Makena Kai beachside LomiLomi Massage: “Nothing says ‘aloha’ more than enjoying a massage that’s so deeply rooted in Hawaiian culture and that mimics the ebb and flow of the ocean.”

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Maui Spa AdventuresMaui Spa Adventures

Kapalua Spa

Located at Kapalua Resort, Kapalua, HI.

Surrounded by breathtaking views of the West Maui Mountains and sparkling turquoise waters of Kapalua Bay, this 45,000 square-foot, three-story spa is the winner of the “2012 Best Luxury Destination Spa” for the United States.

The spa perfectly integrates a peaceful Mauka (mountain) to Makai (ocean) experience. Customized treatments have been developed using indigenous ingredients grown in the West Maui Mountains.

The “butterfly logo” of the Kapalua Spa symbolizes its metamorphosis from a former pineapple plantation into a one-of-a-kind luxurious wellness facility. Facilities include indoor/outdoor treatment areas including sea salt eucalyptus steam rooms and cascading waterfall hot tubs, outdoor hydrotherapy circuit, a salt water infinity pool and sunning deck, a state-of-art Fitness Center & Movement Studio, Spa Caf¬©, Spa Boutique and Beauty Salon.

Kapalua Spa Rituals

Guests are invited to partake in the Kapalua Spa Ritual prior to their spa service. It is comprised of three parts:

  • The ‘Awa Drinking – the ‘awa ceremony was endorsed by chiefs to create open space for communication and gratitude.
  • Hawaiian Sea Salt – In the steam rooms, Hawaiian sea salt (which has been harvested from the waters of Molokai) are infused with essential oils. Guests deeply breathe in the healing powers of the sea mist to relax, detox, and let go.
  • Gracious Fond Farewell – Kapalua Spa offers guests a farewell seashell memento which they are invited to fill with inspirations and memories from their spa journey.

Unique Signature Treatments

  • ‘Awa & Cocoa Lomi Cocoon. Fellow traveller, Sue, experienced this spa treatment designed by Darrell Lapulapu, a Hawaiian Healer, herbalist, acupuncturist and massage therapist. ‘Awa was one of the plants brought in the sailing canoes by the earliest Polynesian voyager to Hawaii. ‘Awa is used as a sedative to induce relaxation and sleep, while Cacao is an antioxidant high in vitamin C which promotes focus and concentration.
    Describing her spa treatment, Sue says: “Prior to the treatment I was given a drink made with ‘Awa, which was slightly bitter. Then an ‘Awa mixture was applied to my body and I was cocooned for 20 minutes. During this time, my head and feet were massaged. When completed, I showered in a private outdoor show and then received a 30-minute LomiLomi massage. The treatment was completed with a refreshing spritzer. The 80-minute treatment was wonderful!”
  • Journey through the Ocean Massage is a full two-hours of pure relaxation. It includes a marine exfoliation, face, hand & foot massage and a luxurious four-hand synchronized massage performed by two therapists with lomi sticks and hot rocks.
  • Beer Baths, one of Europe’s most popular and therapeutic spa treatments, has come to Maui! Long known as a specialty of the famous beer countries like Germany, Austria and Czech Republic, Beer Baths have been used as a curative, medicinal treatment in addition to relaxing and detoxifying experience for the body.

Maui Spa Adventures

Soaking in an outdoor stone-carved tub full of beer ingredients from Maui Brewing Company’s handcrafted products is definitely a unique experience. A distinctive aroma of hobs and malt assails the nostrils as foam rises from the bottom of the tub, similar to a head forming on a giant mug of beer. As an added treat, the therapist will bring a Kapalua Spa Brew (non-alcoholic) accompanied by Beer Bread baked locally and a spread of homemade honey mustard Beer butter!

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Maui Spa Adventures

The Spa at Travaasa Hana

Travaasa Hana, Hana, HI

Located in the town of Hana on the eastern tip of Maui, Travaasa Hana is a sanctuary of peace and tranquility. The Spa at Travaasa Hana was recently voted the #1 Resort Spa in Hawaii in the 2012 Conde Nast Reader’s Choice Awards.

Whether you drive the famous Road to Hana, or arrive by air via one of the new Mokulele Airline flights that began Oct. 1, 2012, from Kahului Airport in Maui, get ready to experience what Hawaii was like a few decades ago. The tranquil town of Hana is described as one of the “last truly Hawaiian places.”

Arriving at Travaasa Hana after my day’s drive on the famous highway, I settle into my Sea Ranch Cottage, which is reminiscent of a beach cottage of an earlier and gentle era – no clocks, radios, TV, or air conditioning, but so charming and inviting with a spectacular ocean breeze and view. I can immediately tell this is not a busy, bustling resort, but rather an oasis of peace.

I’ve scheduled a massage at the spa, which is greatly needed after my long drive. I’m escorted to the spa via a golf car (the only mode of transportation throughout the resort). After arriving and signing in, I explore the outdoor area while enjoying a cup of herbal tea. The most stunning aspect is the lava-rock whirlpool and garden setting with lounge chairs that overlook Hana Bay. After a soak in the whirlpool, I sink into the comfortable lounge and am almost lured asleep by the quietness of my surroundings.

Maui Spa Adventures

My therapist arrives and I’m escorted to my treatment room where I enjoy a signature massage by a native Hawaiian massage therapist. He explains that in the traditions of Hawaii, smooth heated stones used in the Pohaku Wela Hot Stone Massage apply the elements of earth, air, fire and water to achieve a healing, centering, rejuvenating treatment. Ho’a’ala (to make fragrant) Aromatherapy Oil can be added to any massage treatment.

Popular body treatments include the Ho’ala (to arise) Refining Clay Body Wrap in which pink clay, blended with organic myrtle, sandalwood, lemon, sea algae and wild rose is used to heal, cool and regenerate the body. ‘Anainai Pa’akai (To scrub with salt) Sea Mineral Salt Scrub is a perfect add-on to any massage. Using unrefined, mineral rich sea salt, the skin is gently buffed, leaving the body silky smooth.

“Travaasa Hana and The Spa at Travaasa is very low key,” explains Maggie Wagner, Senior Director of Spa and Retail, Travaasa Destinations. “You can feel the energy level change as you drive into Hana and you begin to decompress. What makes Traavasa Spa so great is that it offers a ‘sense of place’ with great organic products and great therapists.”

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