As the historic home of the Hawaiian monarchy hundreds of years ago, Honolulu’s Waikiki Beach is fully equipped to cater to those with a distinguished palate. Offering up world-class shopping, highly acclaimed restaurants, and award-winning resorts, this picture-perfect destination is a seaside paradise. Holding court on the Waikiki shore since 1927, The Royal Hawaiian is a rose-hued retreat that carries the moniker “The Pink Palace.” The sprawling Spanish-Moorish-inspired estate, which was a veritable playground for the rich and famous, has a story as illustrious as its roster of clients, who have included Amelia Earhart, Clark Gable, Theodore Roosevelt, and Shirley Temple.
In order to restore the glitz and glamour of this beloved octogenarian, The Royal Hawaiian was shut down two years ago and underwent a $60 million renovation. The iconic resort opened its shiny new doors in January 2009 and was introduced to Starwood’s elite Luxury Collection portfolio of properties. During that makeover, the resort’s 10,000-square-foot Abhasa Spa, which originally opened in 2001, was also privy to an update, making it bigger and better than ever.
Nestled amid the resort’s famous coconut grove, the island-inspired spa, which features 11 treatment areas, was made over to offer spa lovers a true escape from Waikiki’s vibrant scene. “Abhasa means ‘illusion’ in Sanskrit,” says spa director Peter Georgeson. “In the very center of bustling, cosmopolitan Waikiki, we created a beautiful and serene garden sanctuary that may appear to be a mirage or an illusion.”
The renovations made a very real impact on the spa, which experienced a significant expansion of its alfresco treatment area to address demand. “The Abhasa Spa garden treatment area is our biggest feature and is very popular,” says Georgeson. This quiet corner of the spa features four outdoor treatment cabanas—two of which are outfitted for couples—where spa-goers can enjoy the rustle of the breeze through the swaying palms, the melodies of the birds that flock to the garden, and the fresh ocean air that swirls through the cabanas. “We often receive feedback from our clients commenting on how peaceful the garden is and how being outside made the spa treatment so special and unique.” The best part about this priceless opportunity is that guests can enjoy it for no additional cost to the service total.
For a rich experience that is steeped in island tradition, Georgeson mentions that spa-goers visiting Abhasa can seek out exceptional spa services with a Hawaiian flair. Traditionalists can opt for the Lomi Lomi ($125, 50 minutes; $180, 80 minutes), which kicks off with a local sea-salt foot polish infused with coconut and kukui oils. Seasoned practitioners then shower spa-goers with the rhythmic moves of the native Hawaiian massage method, which is meant to stimulate the mind, body, and soul.
For a twist on the classic, the Abhasa Harmony ($140, 50 minutes; $190, 80 minutes) is classified as a “must try” by Georgeson. He explains that this East-meets-West-inspired treatment melts tension away by combining lomi lomi with Japanese shiatsu. Another winning duo featured at the spa is the popular Royal Combination ($240, 2 hours) package, which allows guests to enjoy a Skin- Ceuticals-infused Tropical Facial and their choice of Lomi Lomi or Swedish massage, which employ Epicuren products.
Abhasa also takes traditional modalities and fuses them with modern-day technology. The Body Cocoon ($130, 50 minutes), which is one of the few services on the menu that cannot be performed in the garden cabanas, is a head-to-toe skin smoothing service that allows guests to drift into relaxation. Available in either detoxifying, nourishing, or slimming options, the treatment starts with a results-oriented body mask and is followed by a revitalizing facial massage and facial mask. Guests are then lowered into the heated envelopment bed, which simulates a floating sensation and lulls them into a blissful state while allowing the product to really seep into the skin.
Pampering is a priority at Abhasa, and the talented staff of 35 ensures that about 70 clients a day—which include both visitors and kamaaina, Hawaiian locals—receive the best service possible. Georgeson claims this commitment to success is only one reason out of many that Abhasa stands out from the crowd of spas in the area. While this would seem like a challenge, Georgeson makes it sound like a simple task. “Being located in The Royal Hawaiian, with its architectural beauty and rich history, allows us to be presented in a special way that no other spa in Waikiki can achieve,” he says. “Combine this with our exclusive garden treatment area and our ten years of spa expertise in Waikiki, and you have a winning formula.”
ABHASA SPA AT THE ROYAL HAWAIIAN, A LUXURY COLLECTION RESORT
OWNERS: Kyo-ya Co.
SPA DIRECTOR: Peter Georgeson
RENOVATED: January 2009
90% female, 10% male
10,000 square feet; 11 treatment areas
aromatherapy, body treatments, couples’ treatments, facials, hand and foot treatments, makeup, massage, nailcare, outdoor treatments, reflexology, salon services, scalp treatments
Lomi Lomi ($125, 50 minutes; $180, 80 minutes)
MOST EXPENSIVE OFFERING
Po’okela ($480, 4 hours), which includes a choice of Lomi Lomi or Swedish massage, an Abhasa Tropical Facial, a Body Scrub, and a Body Cocoon
Alterna, Enjoy, Epicuren, Get Fresh, Phytomer, SkinCeuticals, Moroccanoil
Living Earth Crafts, SpaSoft, Spa Uniforms