Kauai, HI, has long garnered acclaim for its stunning beaches, lush foliage, breathtaking waterfalls, and craggy cliffs. In fact, the chain of islands has been inspiring Hollywood for years as the dramatic backdrop for countless films and TV shows. Most recently, the Garden Island played a leading role in George Clooney’s award-winning drama, “The Descendants.” In the film, Clooney and his family are multi-generational inheritors of a coveted plot of land on the island, and he and his daughters try to reconnect as a family at a luxe resort found along the shores of Hanalei Bay. That resort is The St. Regis Princeville Resort, and among the stars of the spectacular property is Halele‘a Spa, an 10,000-square-foot, 12-treatment-room retreat that is the epitome of Kauai’s aloha spirit. “Halele‘a Spa sets a new standard for elegance and luxury on the island,” says spa director Darcie DeBartelo. “It provides a sense of peace and a place commensurate with the island’s transcendent beauty.” The Hawaiian influence can be found throughout the spa, starting with its name. “In ancient times, the land where the resort resides was known as Halele‘a, the house of joy,” says DeBartelo. “This magnificent stretch of land, called an Ahupua‘a, was noted in chant and hula for its ethereal beauty and rejuvenating qualities. Halele‘a Spa is the namesake of this revered Ahupua‘a that encompassed the land from mountain to sea.”
Each treatment room features custom millwork from native Hawaiian woods, palm wood floors, natural fiber drapery treatments, and a Murano glass plumeria flower chandelier. Three of the treatment rooms are specialty suites, and each are named for plant species found in Hawaii. Awapuhi, known as shampoo ginger and found along Kauai’s North Shore, is the name of the Vichy room. The two couples’ suites are named Maile and Nonu. According to DeBartelo, “Maile blossoms were prized by the ancient Hawaiians as the noblest of all lei materials, and maile has been respected and loved for many generations for its enchanting fragrance.” Meanwhile, the nonu plant is one of the island’s most well-known medicinal plants. Treatments also come with access to relaxation lounges accented by waterfalls and a statue of Hina, the Hawaiian goddess skilled in the medicine of the sea.
The practice of Hawaiian medicine involves the use of island flora, as well as the abundant fresh (wai) and salt (kai) water found throughout Kauai. The spa services reflect this tradition with the help of signature products from Hawaii-based Maile Organics. The company developed products exclusively for the spa using local ingredients, such as coffeeberry, fresh flower petals, Kauai clay, taro root, and wild ginger. To honor the marine heritage, Voya products, which are made from hand-harvested seaweed, are also incorporated in the treatments. Among the most popular services is the Hawaiian Lomi Lomi Massage ($164, 60 minutes; $240, 90 minutes), which begins with a Hawaiian oli (chant). Another favorite is Kauai’s Taro Clay Wrap ($175, 60 minutes). In it, Kauai clay is infused with organic aloe, blue-green algae, kava, noni, and taro and is luxuriously applied as a mask, which is then followed by a full-body massage.
The Hawaiian mystique can even be enjoyed beyond the spa. Because of its picturesque location, those with a penchant for alfresco services will also be satisfied with outdoor oceanside massages in a spa cabana or by partaking in mini poolside services that range in length from 15 to 30 minutes.
The myriad spa offerings are accommodated by the spa’s 35 experienced staff members, who generally see approximately 35 to 50 guests per day, with a maximum capacity of 120. “We are extremely selective in regards to required education, knowledge, and experience,” says DeBartelo. “They must also have sincerity and the ability to deeply connect with our guests.”
With such a wide range of options and such a devoted spa team, it’s no surprise that the spa is attractive to St. Regis guests, as well as those from other hotels on the island and locals. In fact, the split between the two is about 50/50. Resort guests are encouraged to visit the spa, thanks to pre-visit calls, on-site marketing, and more. Other island visitors are reached via marketing and PR campaigns with trade, beauty, travel, and bridal publications. Locals are enticed by the spa’s Inner Circle Program, an exclusive membership program for Hawaii residents that includes special spa discounts and other promotions. “Our biggest challenge is retaining awareness in the local community,” says DeBartelo. “It is one of the reasons we developed the Inner Circle program.”
Beyond growing the Inner Circle program, DeBartelo says she and her team are mostly devoted to maintaining the spa’s stellar reputation and “to continue being one of the top spas in Hawaii and the U.S.” It’s certainly a philosophy that will help Halele‘a Spa shine as one of Kauai’s brightest stars.