Manual application of oils or lotions to the skin to stimulate circulation and promote well-being are rudimentary basics of a spa treatment.  Enhancement with indigenous products and techniques, rooted in a region’s culture, people, and unique geography adds a degree of depth and delicious effects.  Key to the whole is the massage therapist and all that he or she brings to the table, literally, for a satiating mind-body experience.

A trio of island spa treatments in Maui provided an opportunity to indulge.  I wished to explore uniquely Hawaiian experiences in lush surroundings.  Bountiful Maui was a choice backdrop, the massages amazing, and the power of human touch overwhelming during each of those eighty minutes.

Shandra, whose badge identified her passion as family, extended a warm welcome to Spa Helani, a Heavenly Spa at Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas North.  The atmosphere here is relaxed, much like the guests, most timeshare owners, friends and family, in a home-away-from-home for a week or more.

The Wahine Spa Room tranquilized this traveler still contemplating the stingray on the ocean floor earlier in the day.  Iridescent tiles, rocks, brass fixtures and orchids set the mood.  The softest- of- soft, nearly weightless robe was a comfort to sun-exposed skin.  After a shower with signature Hualani products  and steam sauna, a cup of lemongrass tea was my sole companion outside on the tranquil spa lanai, while awaiting an eighty minute Signature Heavenly Massage, with their signature Hualani massage cream.
Jordan, my massage therapist, is a California transplant who recognized the allure and easy pace while on assignment in Hawaii and never looked back.  He suggested that I deposit any worries or issues inside a basket to be placed outside the room.  Massage techniques were a combination of Swedish and ancient Hawaiian Lomilomi with broad strokes utilizing strong forearms.  Heavenly Spa’s Hualani passion and pineapple massage cream sweetly infused more island into the moment.  Spa music added ambience.  Jordan shared his perspective that his role was partly investigative, to maximize holistic benefit to me.  He seemed to give of himself with massage.  I so relished his attentiveness to upper back, hips, feet, neck, and scalp….  I left feeling soothed, restored.
Spa Helani, a Heavenly Spa, Ocean Resort Villas North, Ka’anapali, Maui, Hawaii. www.thespamaui@westin.com Signature Heavenly Massage, 80 minutes, $185

The Massage Hale (HALE=Hawaiian for house), tucked into the slope above the Pacific, was enveloped by vibrant plants and waving palms. Made from island products in native custom, open to the elements, it was the setting for a transcendent experience.
A shower with coconut lemongrass products and eucalyptus steam sauna at the Spa had my senses piqued as Carlos escorted me to the hale in a comfy robe. Rita, smiling, greeted me for the eighty minute oceanfront Lomi Pohaku Massage at the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea. With a gentleness, she beckoned me inside. 

The treatment featured Lomilomi massage techniques accentuated with river stones, tumbled to an ultra-smooth finish.  Morning sounds provided accompaniment: breaking waves, birdsong, rustling fronds, walkers and joggers on the shoreline and far away, the occasional child. Deftly, so deftly, my massage therapist manipulated the hot stones in her hands with a cocoa butter glide onto and into muscles and tissues. The heat penetrated with an almost sizzling intensity to the point where a submissive exhale was my reflexive response.  

Rita’s story moved me. When she was five, her mom was diagnosed with polio.  The child was apparently a keen observer of the rehabilitation and therapy during this devastating illness. In her words, her relationship with her dog grew, and she connected that the aging animal responded youthfully to massage. She developed her techniques on family.  Rita believes that her mother’s misfortune became her own opportunity.  Her fifty-nine years of massage practice is devotedly transmitted in her treatment.  She is a kahuna, an expert healer.  And she nailed it. 

I treated my husband to the very same indulgence with the very same therapist the next afternoon.
The Spa, Four Seasons Resort Maui : www.fourseasons.com/maui  Oceanfront Lomi Pohaku Massage, 80 minutes, $280; cocoa butter, add $20

Entering the Waihua Spa at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, eyes are drawn to massive bamboo sentries on either side of the forty foot river rock and African Mahogany pathway. One feels grounded by the earthiness reflected in the décor.  Inside the spa, stones and exotic Koa woods speak of Hawaiian reverence for nature.  The name Waihua refers to an ancient Hawaiian description of purest water retrieved from large taro leaves, to be used for healing, rejuvenation and balance. A shower with signature Spa Fresh botanical products and eucalyptus steam sauna in the grotto-like Wet Lounge hit the spot.  I settled into luxurious bedding, with soft lighting and some tea in the relaxation room until Jennifer, my massage therapist, came to take me away for a sensual feast.

The eighty minute Ali’i Lavender Royal Treatment began with an intoxicatingly aromatic lavender scrub and wrap.  Jennifer expertly and tenderly exfoliated my body with lavender botanicals from Maui’s own Ali’i Lavender Farms in Upcountry.  I stepped outside for an exhilarating private outdoor shower, and emerged with truly sleek shiny skin from head to toes.  Back in the treatment room, the air was scented with lavender, the bedding fresh, lighting low.  Hawaiian vocals, string and wind instruments played.

During a warm lavender body butter massage, I drifted while Jennifer displayed her mastery of the art using her definitive blend of techniques including Lomilomi, sports, Swedish and Thai, in the most invigorating massage ever.  Ono (good). Pono (balance).

Jennifer came to Maui twenty-two years ago. She’d practiced massage since the age of eighteen and pursued more training, sagely deciding to make it her career.  As I cooed about the lavender, Jennifer revealed she hopes to take her mom to visit the lavender farm when she visits from southern California.  And she’d like to arrange this same treatment for her mom, too.  Ono.  Pono.

She hugged me goodbye.  Marvelous=the combination of exquisite lavender, Jennifer’s intensity and this hallowed setting.
Waihua Spa, the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua:  http://www.ritzcarlton.com/Kapalua .  Ali’i Lavender Royal Treatment, 80 minutes $225