Hawaii’s top spa pampers its guests

Outdoor massage under canopy by beachMAUI, HAWAII – Picture this scenario. The sun is full, a gentle breeze sways through the palms, the surf’s roll is rhythmic. It’s my first morning on Maui and it’s magical. But weeks ago I made arrangements that would interrupt my morning in this outdoor paradise and see me confined to the indoor luxury of Spa Grande at the Grand Wailea Resort here.

Grand Wailea“My treatment’s only an hour so I’ll see you at the pool well before lunch,” I assured my husband.

Joined by my 23-year-old daughter, Erin, we enter Hawaii’s largest spa. It’s adorned with beige Italian marble, Grecian-inspired pillars, a semi-circular staircase and scattered orchids.

“After your shower, I’ll show you around,” said a friendly young woman named Holly. “Should I wear my bathing suit?” I asked – having read that it’s an optional choice.

“Whatever you prefer. There’s a towel in your locker to use as a wrap if you like,” she said. After choosing the swimsuit option, I walked into the spa. Immediately feeling like the class nerd, I returned towel attired.

The Terme Wailea Hydrotherapy Circuit ($55 U.S. resort guests; $80 U.S. visitors) is the only water therapy facility of its kind in the world. And while intriguing, it’s a bit overwhelming. First, I’m called for the Loofah Scrub – a complimentary honey mango scrub designed to prime the body for the rest of the circuit.

Once “primed,” Erin and I head to the Specialty Baths, a semi-circle of five oversized step-in tubs, each filled with its own colorful specialty ingredient.

My first choice is the Aromatherapy Bath because it’s said to combat jet lag. “Perfect,” I think after yesterday’s five-hour journey. Erin tries the Mud Bath (a tub full of organic Canadian mud), which produces an astringent effect and deep skin cleansing.

“I hope this works,” I say while stepping into the Limu (seaweed) Bath – a green algae-looking, questionably-smelling substance that promises to fight cellulite. I’m told the Hawaiian Sea Salt in the Mineral Bath will heal the scrape on my knee and neither of us miss the Tropical Enzyme Bath, a blend of citrus and green papaya enzymes.

After Holly says that the Cascading Waterfall Shower is her favorite, it’s a “must” for me too. Seated on a low stool, jets of water massage the hips, calves and feet as a waterfall cascades from a height of 10 feet to massage the neck and shoulders.

We’re like kids in an amusement park, running from one attraction to the next when I hear my name. Handed a robe, I’m escorted up marble steps to the second level and through a door labeled “Lanai.” It’s called a patio in other locales but lanai seems fitting in Hawaii. This open-air setting overlooking the resort’s dolphin-inspired reflections pool is the spa’s only co-ed area.

While sipping water, flipping through a magazine and inhaling the salt air, I’m retrieved by Mirayam for the Pohaku (Lava Stone) Lomi Lomi Massage (50 minutes, $169 U.S.; 80 minutes, $234 U.S.). Called the hula of massage because of the therapist’s fluid movements of forearms and elbows, the Lomi Lomi was created for Hawaiian royalty; in this treatment it’s performed with hot smooth lava stones covered with avocado and olive oil.

“To get the most from your treatment, go downstairs and alternate between the heat of the sauna, steam room and Roman Tub with the cool plunge.”

The drastic temperature changes are invigorating and good for the immune system, Mirayam explained. It’s long past the lunch hour when we reluctantly return to the lockers and our “pamperfest” ends. But it must – we don’t want to be late for dinner.

The Terma Wailea Hydrotherapy is complimentary with any spa treatment. For more information, call 1-800-SPA-1933 or go to Web site, www.grandwailea.com.

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Imagine lying on a massage table situated on a slight bluff that overlooks the isle of Molokini. Positioned beneath an open-air tent, this “spa” treatment may be Maui’s best value.

Billed as “luxurious treatments in a resort setting at affordable prices,” the spa in the Renaissance Wailea Beach Resort offers this champagne-style treatment on a vino budget. The cost is an additional $5 to standard massage rates: 25 minutes, $55 (U.S.); 55 minutes, $90 (U.S.); 85 minutes, $130 (U.S.). Offered daily between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., weather permitting.

Contact 808-879-8244 or visit the Web site at www.waileamassage.com