Hawaiian Healing

The Hawaiian district of Kona, perhaps best known to many for its expensive, sought-after coffee, is also home to another source of rejuvenation for locals and visitors. The Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Ka'upulehu (Kailua-Kona, Hawaii), which is set on the Big Island's Kona-Kohala Coast, provides guests with myriad services and activities to recharge their minds, bodies, and souls. Aiming to capture the essence of Hawaiian design, culture, and tradition, the resort boasts beachside dining areas, a signature Jack Nicklaus golf course, clothing boutiques, and the newly renovated Hualalai Spa at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Ka'upulehu.

The 28,000-square-foot spa and wellness center, which originally opened in December 1996 and completed its renovation in August 2009, allows guests to indulge in a number of services and amenities. Activities offered at the spa include yoga ($15), fitness classes ($15), and personal training sessions ($55, 25 minutes; $100, 50 minutes; $145, 80 minutes). The spa also offers a menu of massages, facials, and wellness services. "All of these amenities allow our guests who are spa-lovers and avid athletes alike, to have an amazing, all-around wellness experience," says spa director Karen Cosgrove.

Exclusive to Hualalai Spa is the Apothecary, where scrubs, wraps, masks, and oils are prepared from 100-percent-natural indigenous ingredients. "The Apothecary offers guests a glimpse of the history of using local healing ingredients by the ancient Hawaiians," says Cosgrove. "The items in our Apothecary are sourced and obtained from the Hawaiian Islands. We consulted with the kupuna's, island elders, to bring Hawaiian traditions alive and to ensure all treatments were grounded in island healing practices." Guests have the option of purchasing their customized blend or another one of their choice to take home with them as a reminder of their experience or to give as a gift.

The spa's guests, who are best described as well-traveled and experienced spa-goers, appreciate the indigenous offerings available at the spa including products from Pure & True, which are made on the islands with pure, local, and organic ingredients. "Our clients come here seeking pleasure in paradise and look for those services and amenities that make our property one of the top resorts and spas around the world," says Cosgrove. "They are people who know what they want and people who anticipate that their experience will reflect their needs, desires, and expectations."

To satisfy these spa-savvy guests, Cosgrove and her staff put a lot of thought into developing the new menu of services and made sure to include some special offerings. "When creating the menu, we did a lot of training, testing, and modifying of treatments," says Cosgrove. "We didn't stop until we were sure they would meet the needs and expectations of our guests. By collaborating and building on ideas and discovering local ingredients we could use for their therapeutic and healing properties, our new menu was born."

According to Cosgrove, most guests generally gravitate toward massage, specifically the Lomi Lomi Massage ($170, 50 minutes; $225, 80 minutes; $300, 1 hour 45 minutes), which is a traditional Hawaiian treatment that includes rhythmic techniques using the elbows and forearms. Other sought-after treatments include the Polynesian Niu (coconut) Scrub ($170, 50 minutes; $225, 80 minutes) and the Island Glow ($225, 80 minutes), which is an exfoliating treatment that includes the spa's brown sugar scrub blended with organic vanilla beans from a farm on the Big Island. According to Cosgrove, spa-goers looking to have a more indulgent experience usually opt for the Endless Spa Journey ($2,000), a day-long package that can include massages, facials, body treatments, fitness classes, and spa cuisine.

The menu was just one upgrade to the spa. The reception area, lobby lounge, and waiting area are new, and locker rooms, wet areas, and indoor treatment rooms were also renovated. In addition, the spa's new Waiea (water of life) treatment garden, which includes lush tropical plants and a waterfall stream, allows guests to walk through and experience a mini reflexology treatment by stepping on the specifically placed stones for added pre- and post-treatment relaxation. Spa-goers can also choose to relax or receive a treatment in one of the spa's four new hales (houses). The hales, including the Ho'onanea Hale, which is designed for couples, feature a private outdoor rain shower, water features, and gardens.

Satisfying the needs of guests and providing them with the ultimate in Hawaiian relaxation is the constant goal of Cosgrove and her staff of 21 full-time and 10 part-time employees. Cosgrove plans to continually strive to develop unique treatments, services, and programs for guests and expand on the Apothecary and Wellness offerings to include more packages that are personalized for individual needs and desires. And while the renovation and all of the new additions to the spa are intended to enhance the guest's experience, according to Cosgrove, "it's the aloha spirit of our staff that make it most special."

(Kailua-Kona, Hawaii) OWNERS: MSD Capital and Rockpoint Group
SPA DIRECTOR: Karen Cosgrove
OPENED: December 1996

50% female, 50% male

28,000 square feet; 20 treatment rooms

acupuncture, aromatherapy, body treatments, couples' treatments, eyelash and brow tinting, facials, fitness, guided meditation, hair and scalp treatments, hand and foot treatments, hydrotherapy, makeup application, massage, nailcare, outdoor treatments, Pilates, prenatal services, salon services, waxing, yoga

Endless Spa Journey ($2,000), which can include massages, facials, body treatments, fitness classes, and spa cuisine

Apothecary (starting at $50, 30 minutes)

Anthony Logistics for Men, Epicuren, Hana Naia Aromatherapy, Pure & True, RéVive

Agilysys, Living Earth Crafts, Oakworks, OKA b., Paramount, Pevonia Equipment, Precor

Rob Iopa, WCIT Architecture (Honolulu)


BAMO (San Francisco)

Sylvia Planning And design (Sedona, AZ)