Idyllic and inviting, the Garden Island of Kauai paints a picture-perfect setting for relaxation. Capturing Hawaii as it once was—unhurried and unspoiled—Kauai provides the perfect backdrop for Kukui’ula, the island’s newest private club and community in decades. With 1,000 acres on the south shore, the property features a community farm, a private golf course, a plantation-style clubhouse, cottages, and The Spa at Kukui’ula.
Kukui’ula is also the name of the historic area in which the community is set. Translated, it means “guiding light.” Kukui refers to the nut oil that is found throughout the island, and ula means red light. The property features a historic urn lava formation, and two others can be found on the south shore. “In ancient times, these three lava urns would be filled with kukui nut oil and lit to provide a way for Hawaiians to navigate to Tahiti and for fishermen to find their way back home,” says spa director Kurt Matsumoto. The name is especially fitting considering that Kukui’ula serves as a beacon to enlighten guests to the charms of old Hawaii and the simplicity it promotes. From dirt roads to wake-up calls from resident roosters, the island itself encourages a slower pace of life.
Simplicity also reigns supreme at the spa. There, the treatment menu is free of gimmicks. Instead, it offers services that are authentic and based on time. “It is our goal to customize each spa experience in order to address the needs of the client,” says Matsumoto, who also focuses on highlighting the skills and talents of his staff. “Rather than having the menu drive the customer experience, we chose to allow the skills of various therapists to drive the experience. By design, we end up with more custom treatments.” And that seems to be exactly what spa-goers are craving.
Club members and their guests are asked to select the type of service they desire, be it a massage, a body treatment, skincare, or a combination of the three. They then choose the length of treatment they’d like ($165, 60 minutes; $247, 90 minutes; $330, 2 hours; $495, 3 hours), followed by their goals for the session, which may include better sleep, increased flexibility, detoxification, relaxation, and more. A therapist then customizes the experience to suit each individual’s needs and goals.
The treatments rely on products from Epicuren and Organic Male OM4. Both were chosen for their quality and outstanding support and training. Like many places that inspire outdoor pursuits, the spa attracts numerous outdoor enthusiasts interested in a custom massage. Not surprisingly, the 90-minute Custom Massage is an all-time favorite. With four full-time and four part-time therapists, the spa can accommodate approximately 15 to 20 treatments a day. “Kauai has incredible therapists on the island, and the environment tends to astound people,” says Matsumoto.
Capitalizing on the island’s lush landscape, the spa features an open-air design that further adds to its appeal. “Instead of just a few outdoor treatment rooms, our design brings the outdoors into all phases of the spa experience,” says Matsumoto. “The locker rooms are designed with an abundance of large doorways and windows that allow the outside environment into the covered space. Each locker room has an entire outdoor area that incorporates showers, a dry sauna, a steam room, a cold plunge, and a whirlpool experience along with lounge chairs for sun bathing.”
Members are encouraged to take advantage of the Wet Area Spa Ritual as a relaxing precursor to their treatments. It is recommended that they scoop Hawaiian sea salts into a shell and then pump a bit of kukui nut oil over them before rubbing the salts over their heels and elbows while in the steam pavilion. Some prefer to end their treatment enjoying the Wet Area. Regardless of how they choose to spend their time at the spa, it’s guaranteed to be time well spent.
Owner: DMB Inc (Scottsdale, AZ) and Alexander & Baldwin (Honolulu)
Spa Director: Kurt Matsumoto
Opened: April 2011
18,000 square feet;
6 treatment rooms
acupuncture, aromatherapy, body treatments, traditional Chinese medicine, couples’ treatments, energy work, facials, fitness, guided meditation, hair and scalp treatments, hand and foot treatments, hydrotherapy, massage, nailcare, outdoor treatments, Pilates, prenatal services, reflexology, salon services, waxing, yoga
Custom Body Treatment (starting at $165, 60 minutes), which includes a choice of exfoliation, a body mask, and a massage
MOST EXPENSIVE OFFERING
Any three-hour treatment ($495)
Beauty Image, Epicuren, Neuma, Organic Male OM4
Living Earth Crafts, Technogym
Oz Architects, (Scottsdale, AZ)
Merrill & Associates (Honolulu)
SPAd (Sedona, AZ)