Traditional Hawaiian healing methods at Halele’a Spa purify and revitalize the body and mind.
By Dana Nichols | photos by Dianne reynolds
Princeville Resort’s Halele’a Spa that are unfamiliar to guests at first, but the minute they step into the maile-scented world of traditional Hawaiian healing methods and ingredients, they’ll feel at home—and even more important, relaxed.
After guests spend time at Halele’a Spa, the exotic, sacred healing traditions of the Garden Isle become second nature. Guests will become acquainted with customary Hawaiian ingredients and treatments, including: “lomi lomi,” which is the traditional style of Hawaiian massage that mimics wave-like motions; “pohaku,” the method of using warm basalt stones; and “kava,” a natural ingredient that has the power to put spa-goers in a state of total relaxation.
Halele’a Spa focuses on the Hawaiian concept of the “ahupua’a,” a philosophy of living in balance with nature, while focusing on the element of water to allude to the abundance of waterfalls found here on Kauai’s North Shore.
Kauai’s Healing Wonders
Kauai historically means “season of abundance” and is the Hawaiian island considered to be the first inhabited. At beautiful Hanalei Bay, which was once divided into “moku” or distinct land districts, the name “Halele’a” predates modern times. The district where The St. Regis Princeville Resort sits today was known as “Halele’a,” or “House of Joy.” Since the times of ancient chant and hula, Halele’a was celebrated as the most beautiful place in the Hawaiian Islands for its combination of mountain, ocean and river landscape, where fresh water, salt water and rainforest come together to provide dramatic beauty and a wealth of natural resources.
“We incorporate indigenous ingredients into our services, such as jasmine, coconut, taro, ginger, aloe, noni, kava, seaweed and kokee,” Halele’a Spa Director Nicole Miller says.
Today, native preservation areas such as the National Tropical Botanical Garden on Kauai and local sustainable farms are home to the indigenous ingredients that are used in the spa’s treatments. Noni, a fruit valued for its antioxidant-rich juice, for example, has been used in Hawaiian medicinal traditions for centuries.
“The ultra-healing noni plant was introduced to Hawaii by the ancient Polynesian settlers and most likely brought to Hawaii via canoe,” explains Stephanie Reid, director of public relations at The St. Regis Princeville Resort. Noni is used in the Kaua’i Taro Clay Wrap and select facials at Halele’a Spa.
“Taro, also known as kalo, was one of the most important plants used by native Hawaiians,” Reid adds. “Now, the largest percentage of taro farming can be found in Hanalei Bay.”
The hour-long Kauai Taro Clay Wrap is one of the spa’s signature treatments and an ideal option for receiving the benefits of rich, local elements. The treatment utilizes island-sourced ingredients found in Malie Organics, a beauty line that exclusively provides products such as locally harvested taro root to The St. Regis Princeville Resort. This full-body masque is the premier treatment for cleansing and detoxifying the skin.
“The main ingredient is taro from the local taro root grown here on Kauai,” Miller says. “This wrap is really great for purifying the skin by soaking vitamins such as A and C into skin cells.”
In addition to taro, the Kauai clay is specially crafted by infusing organic aloe, noni, kava and blue-green algae. The wrap is then followed by a heavenly hand and foot massage.
If guests prefer a relaxing treatment with warm flowing water, they’ll want to indulge in the Rainforest Shower, another signature hour-long treatment that uses locally sourced ingredients to stimulate the senses. This treatment uses a revitalizing Vichy shower to put the guest in an awakened, yet calm, state of mind. It begins with a cleansing scrub of native Kauai sugar cane and taro, infused with organic virgin coconut oil, organic cocoa butter and organic grapefruit seed extract, applied in the Vichy shower.
“The sugar cane is used as a natural exfoliant,” Miller says. “Mixed with coconut oil and cocoa butter, it leaves the skin super refreshed.” The treatment is finished with a warm “Taro Butter Kiss,” which melts on the skin, providing extreme hydration.
“Also, one of the most unique things about our spa is what we call an ‘experience shower,’ featuring 18 shower heads, steam and waterfall features,” Miller adds.
Equally soothing, the relaxation lounge is surrounded by wall-to-wall waterfalls and a statue of the Hawaiian goddess Hina, who heals people using gifts from the sea. The restful sound and fresh scent of cascading falls infused with tropical essence are also main elements in both the men and women’s locker rooms. Scents here and throughout the spa experience are taken directly from local botanicals to “revitalize the aloha spirit,” Miller says.
Traditional Hawaiian healing customs are about as ancient as the islands themselves. Lomi lomi massage, for instance, is a sacred art that has been handed down through generations as a spiritual healing technique. Known as the “loving hands” massage, traditional lomi lomi includes an ancient chant and is based on the notion that everything, and everyone, in the world seeks love. Flowing strokes act like constant, gentle waves of water to work muscles while encouraging circulation, relaxation and harmony. It is a time-honored Hawaiian healing practice to use noninvasive methods, such as lomi lomi massage, to treat both spiritual and physical maladies.
Using exotic ingredients in treatments doesn’t mean that they are necessarily complicated. In many of the treatments at Halele’a, botanicals are pure forms of natural elements. This might include the trace elements found in kai, ocean water, or the purifying minerals found in natural water from freshwater sources. The hour-long Nani Oxygen Infusion Facial combines pure ingredients with new technology to provide the highest quality hydrating and smoothing results available. Light pressure oxygen creates a beautiful glow and is less invasive than injections or peels.
The St. Regis Princeville Resort has another name rooted in ancient lore. The site of the resort was once known as “pu’u pa’oa,” which refers to the legend of ancient fire goddess Pele, who, when seeking a new home, would strike her staff, called “pa’oa,” into the ground to form a crater.
In one culturally significant tale of romance, Hi’iaka, Pele’s sister, settled on the island of Kauai with her husband Lohi’au after a long journey. Their legendary trek together is memorialized at Halele’a Spa with an artful Hawaiian blessing card that is given to spa visitors who indulge together in the Couples Nanu White Flower Ritual. This 140-minute series of treatments includes a jasmine walnut scrub and aromatic massage in a private lounge equipped with a soaking tub and rain shower.
Guests feel the sense of timeless traditions of beauty all around them at Halele’a Spa. All 12 treatment rooms, adorned with native Hawaiian wood furniture and palm wood floors, are crowned with a classic Murano glass plumeria flower chandelier.
Beyond the Spa
Pampering at Halele’a Spa doesn’t just stop with a tranquil spa experience—a selection of treatments available outdoors on the resort property provide the opportunity to enjoy the warmth of the day and fresh ocean air. This includes open-air cabanas for massages as well as treatments offered poolside, which give guests a sampling of the “loving hands” touch—15-, 20- and 30-minute lemongrass foot treatments and jasmine-scented hand massages. For those who vacation without a schedule, perhaps the best part about these “mini-services” is that they can be ordered on the spot.
The two-level, state-of-the-art fitness center, with its views across Hanalei Bay, is where guests may want to spend time before or after relaxing at Halele’a Spa. In addition to cardio equipment and weights, there is personal training, hatha yoga and mat Pilates to choose from to balance out the day. Or, perhaps a few invigorating laps in the 5,000- square-foot pool or snorkeling out front in Hanalei Bay will yield yet another positive cleansing effect provided by water and an unparalleled way to soak in beautiful Kauai.
Nonetheless, however guests wish to spend their time at Halele’a Spa—through pampering with a Vichy shower, Kauai Taro Clay Wrap or lomi lomi massage—they will truly feel the “aloha spirit” that is so deeply embedded within the culture of Kauai.