Hawaiian Healing

Designated the Garden Isle, Kauai has long been the go-to destination for honeymooning couples and intrepid adventure-seekers. Its lush foliage and breathtaking white-sand beaches set the stage for the ultimate getaway. It's no surprise then that the island has served as the spectacular setting for numerous films and television productions, such as South Pacific, Gilligan's Island, Fantasy Island, The Thorn Birds, Jurassic Park, and more. Capitalizing on the celebrated scenery is the popular Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa (Koloa, HI), which is built into a hillside overlooking Keoneloa Bay. True paradise is found, however, with a visit to Anara Spa, a 14,000-square-foot facility that incorporates a host of Hawaiian healing traditions.

Although the spa first opened in 1991, it underwent a renovation late last year to give it a needed revamp. Going beyond a mere makeover, the update included the addition of 25,000 square feet, much of which is used to accommodate the spa's main attraction, the Lokahi Garden. Intended for spa-goers experiencing any of Anara's Journeys, Escapes, or couples' treatments, the garden's four thatched-roof hales—two for singles and two for couples—each features a private open-air lava rock shower and a steam grotto. An additional hale is used for couples wanting to enjoy alfresco pedicures. Two soaking tubs are also on-hand for guests experiencing a bath service.

The open-air relaxation hale in the Lokahi Garden features teak floors and a bamboo ceiling.
The open-air relaxation hale in the Lokahi Garden features teak floors and a bamboo ceiling.

Drawing on the restorative power of nature, the garden was named with that thought in mind. In Hawaiian, lokahi translates to harmony. According to spa director Jessica Shea, it was chosen because it refers to the spa and its guests being in harmony with nature. The same thought to detail was given in the naming of the treatment hales, which sport Hawaiian names for various indigenous plants, such as Ko for sugarcane and Ki for ti leaves. The spa also features 10 indoor treatment rooms, which include their own private gardens, and a Vichy room.

Thatched-roof treatment hales, meandering stone paths, and lush foliage make the Lokahi Garden a virtual Shangri-La.
Thatched-roof treatment hales, meandering stone paths, and lush foliage make the Lokahi Garden a virtual Shangri-La.

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Honoring Hawaiian culture, the menu features a variety of treatments that blend traditional healing practices with natural island botanicals. "We wanted to create services that took inspiration from the three major elements of traditional Hawaiian healing—herbal medicine (la'au), massage (lomi), and spiritual practice (ho-oponopono)—and their historic purpose to treat the mind, body, and spirit as one, developing a profound sense of balance," says Shea. "With this as our menu's foundation, we then sought to infuse every service with the natural, tropical elements that support our relationship with the island and bring a little decadence to the treatments."

Honeymooners often take advantage of the spa's two couples' hales.
Honeymooners often take advantage of the spa's two couples' hales.

For guests wanting a true taste of the island's healing power, there are Anara's Journeys and Escapes, which give spa-goers access to the Lokahi Garden. Guests can indulge in true pampering with one of the spa's three Journeys, which make up the spa's signature packages. They combine various individualized services to create the ultimate Hawaiian experience. Other transformative Hawaiian experiences are available through the spa's Escapes. For instance, the Kauai Clay Ritual ($350, 1 hour 50 minutes), involves a cleansing scrub of native awa root and warm coconut oil using hot stones and an application of a mineral-rich Kauai clay mask to the body. After showering off the mask in their private outdoor lava rock shower, guests are treated to a therapeutic massage with a nourishing blend of botanicals. Each of the three Journeys and four Escapes begins with a soothing salt footbath in the garden's open-air relaxation hale.

Anara Spa
Anara Spa

Choosing products based on their natural ingredients, effectiveness, and company philosophy, Shea ultimately opted for éminence Organic Skin Care and Epicuren for Anara's facials. "éminence's organic products and sustainable business practices fit with the spa's goal to offer the most natural, effective skincare treatments possible while maintaining consciousness of our environmental impact," says Shea. "Epicuren's formulations include a variety of natural, effective Hawaiian skincare ingredients, such as aloe, coconut, and kukui." For the spa's massages and body treatments, she chose Malie Kauai, a locally sourced line. The company also produces the spa's signature Kauai clay, which is sustainably harvested from the island and made exclusively for Anara. Especially popular with guests is the spa's signature Coco Mango line. "It is our biggest seller due largely to the internet orders we receive from former spa guests who fell in love with the product," says Shea. "Just a hint of the tropical scent and memories of their Kauai visit come rushing back."

With 90 employees on staff, approximately 60 of whom are part-time, the spa is able to accommodate 150 to 200 clients each day. According to Shea, most spa-goers rank relaxation as their top priority. "But beyond that, they appreciate the Aloha spirit, comfort, and care with which we deliver our uniquely Hawaiian services," she says.

Despite the idyllic sense the spa imparts, it does face its fair share of challenges. "We strive to continually maintain our expectations for superior service with the constantly changing economic climate and the cost challenges we face as an island destination," says Shea. "We have brought the focus to the fundamentals of our people in service: talented hands, helpful receptionists, and caring attendants to nurture our loyal guests and create a reputation that is not affected by costs." With that thought in mind, it's no wonder that guests are often content to linger in the nature-inspired spa, as well as on the island, indefinitely.

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