Surfside Salvation

Situated on Oahu’s North Shore, Turtle Bay Resort (HI) has been given a new lease on life thanks to a recent $45 million renovation that included the debut of the Nalu Kinetic Spa. The spa plays a significant role in the property’s plan to rebrand itself as an experiential destination. The spa’s name reflects the new direction the resort is taking by incorporating the fabled North Shore’s surf culture. While nalu is Hawaiian for wave and ocean surf, kinetic refers to movement. “When we decided to renovate and double the size of the spa, we knew we needed a more relevant name,” says director of wellness Avigale LaGrass. “We worked with some key staff members and a branding company and came up with the name and announced it when we opened the doors to the reinvented surfside spa-fitness-wellness center.”

The 11,900-square-foot spa is a vast improvement over its predecessor. Highlights include an expanded and updated outdoor relaxation area; three new open-air garden view massage cabanas and a new indoor couples’ treatment room with ocean views; an expanded beauty salon with a pedicure area, a communal manicure bar, and multipurpose hair and makeup styling stations; the addition of a movement studio for various fitness classes, such as Hot Hula, yoga, and Zumba; and a fitness center with floor-to-ceiling windows that overlooks the coastline. “Our spa allows guests to take in the sound of the waves and embrace the beauty of nature from the treatment rooms and our outdoor relaxation area,” says LaGrass. “We focus on natural and sustainable products that provide great results and are great for our environment.”

According to LaGrass, most of those who visit are conscious of the types of products they put on their skin. As a result, great care was taken in choosing product lines that would appeal to them. “We were looking for U.S. made and manufactured lines that were as clean and sustainable as possible without compromising results,” says LaGrass. “We chose Naturopathica and OSEA because they both fit this criteria and complement each other well.”

Not surprisingly, nature served as a key factor in the development of the spa, from the eco-friendly products selected to the treatments themselves. In fact, one of the most requested venues is the spa’s Seaside Cabana, which overlooks Kawela Bay. There, guests are able to listen to the waves and feel the ocean spray while experiencing a Seaside Massage ($175, 60 minutes; $245, 90 minutes). One of the spa’s most popular treatments is the Undaria Body Wrap ($205, 90 minutes), which features a seaweed body mask, a facial cleanse, an exfoliation, and a light facial massage with fresh strips of red algae. “It delivers the best of both worlds for the skin,” says LaGrass. Spa-goers may also opt for Nalu (Wave) Therapy ($145, 60 minutes; $210, 90 minutes), which is performed on a WaveMotion Bodywork Table from Clap Tzu. Rotating 360 degrees, the table is only available at a few other spas in the U.S. The treatment mimics the healing rhythm of the ocean, making it ideal for the surf-inspired menu. A number of massage enhancements ($15) are also available: Arnica Muscle Oil can be incorporated to reduce inflammation and relieve muscle aches; Aromatherapy blends can be used to invigorate, calm, or enhance the treatment; and Kukui Nut Oil, a traditional Hawaiian oil, can help heal and protect the skin.

While spa-goers have embraced the spa’s offerings, there are plans to update the menu. “In 2015, we are enhancing our menu by focusing on wellness intentions,” says LaGrass. “For example, services will be designed around stress reduction, jet lag reduction, sports performance, anti-aging, and sleep enhancement. Our guests will be able to come to our spa to learn how to incorporate healthy tools in their toolbox to improve their own wellbeing and help their mind and body run more efficiently and have more meaning and purpose in their lives.”

With 39 employees on staff, the spa can accommodate 108 treatments at full capacity. According to LaGrass, staffing is one of her biggest challenges thanks to the spa’s location on the North Shore, which is somewhat isolated from the island’s more urban areas. Location is also a challenge when it comes to shipping costs. However, LaGrass and her team aren’t letting such issues keep them from looking toward the future. Instead, there are plans to raise the wellness bar for both members and guests. The spa will soon introduce Wellness Packages that focus on four-, five-, and seven-night stays. These packages are designed to support guests who want to sleep better, improve sports performance, and de-stress. “Nalu Kinetic Spa seamlessly integrates diverse wellness experiences in a setting of unrefined natural beauty, appealing to adventurers who seek immersion with the spirit, peace, and power of the North Shore,” says spa consultant Amy McDonald, owner of Under a Tree. “This enhanced journey leaves them invigorated and eager to return.”

Owner: Managed by Replay (Vancouver, Canada)

Director of Wellness: Avigale LaGrass

Opened: April 2013


85% female

15% male


11,900 square feet; 9 treatment rooms


Cirepil, CND, Naturopathica, Ola, OPI, OSEA, Pureology, Redken


Chadsworth & Haig, Clap Tzu, Collins, Living Earth Crafts, Precor, SpaSoft, Zendals


WCIT Architecture (Honolulu)


Amy McDonald, Under A Tree (Tucson, AZ)