Soaking up the Hawaiian spirit at Laniwai spa at Aulani
Water, water everywhere, I hummed to myself as I strolled outside to the Kula Wai Hydrotherapy Garden at the Laniwai spa at Aulani on Oahu. This was after I skipped into the place with glee. You see, I had just dropped my oldest son off at the kids club, and my youngest was with a sitter. Yes that sitter cost me a pretty penny, but it would be worth it.
Childcare at Disney’s Aulani: Children over 3 years old can go to Auntie’s Beach House from 9:30 a.m. until about 9 p.m. The cost is included in your room price. Children under age 3 will need a babysitter. Call the hotel to schedule a sitter to come to the resort (added fee) on the day of your treatment if there is no other adult available to watch your child.
As you walk into the spa you are welcomed by the soothing natural interior that encompassed stone,water and deep rainbow-hued colors. The hallway to the treatment rooms and lockers is an arch of deep blue and violet. Water drips from the ceiling into a shallow pool, where you toss the stone you chose upon entering the spa. This stone represents your wish for your stay. I got “happiness.” It would be that and more.
The spa staff recommends that you arrive at least one hour prior to your treatment. I would suggest you come even earlier if possible. The outdoor garden features two hot pools, a whirlpool, a cold plunge (and it is cold!), and my favorite feature, an outdoor rain shower in the round with six different heads pouring water down (and in some cases up) onto you. I spent most of my time going between four of them. I like a little pressure to ease out the tension. After five days carrying around the baby, hauling kids from our room to the pools and lugging baggage, I was ready for a bit of a release.
Ten minutes before your treatment you will get a heads up from the staff that it is time to come in, dry off and put on your spa-supplied robe. I snuggled up in the women’s lounge (there is also a men’s and a co-ed lounge) to read a magazine while I waited. The curved chair fit my back perfectly and already I was set to take a nap, but my massage therapist came just before I dosed off.
I experienced the Hana Polhaku Lomilimi, which is a hot stone massage. I get regular massages at home; I wanted to try something a little different. My masseur was wonderful. She was tiny, but had powerful hands that worked out a few knots in my shoulders. I loved every second that the hot stones touched my skin. The flat stones about the size of a palm were pushed up and down my back next to my spin, along my legs and down my arms. My tired limbs immediately breathed a sigh of relaxation. The only problem was that this feeling didn’t happen very often or last very long. I enjoyed a 50-minute massage, when this type of treatment really needs to be 80 minutes or more. Between the back and forth to the hot stone pool, cooling them down a little and adding lotion, I would say the actually hands on work was about half of the treatment time. This is not uncommon in hot stone massage, just disappointing. If you are going in for a treatment I’d recommend a Lomilomi massage, a facial or the 90-minute Hana Polhaku Lomilimi (hot stone massage).
Family spa options: For families who want to experience spa treatments together, you can book the ‘Ohana package. Children ages 5 and up can enjoy the healing touch of lomilomi with their parents. Parents with babies can book the Makana, a soothing massage for mom while dad learns a little baby massage from a licensed practitioner.
After my massage I was treated to a fruit-flavored antioxidant cube (chewy and very tasty) and some water. I was escorted back to the women’s lounge and collapsed into a chair. I had dosed a little during my massage, but tried not to go under because I wanted to really experience it. Now was my chance to catch a few extra Zzzs, or at least you would think. I sat for a few minutes, but quickly went to shower and pick up my oldest son. We were going paddle boarding while I still had a babysitter watching the baby. A mom only has so much time to relax at Aulani; sometimes new adventures await!
Know before you go
- Laniwai Spa at Aulani (a Disney Resort and Spa), 92-1185 Ali’Inui Dr, Kapolei, HI 96707
- Hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily
- Appointments are necessary for a spa treatment. Call in advance as appointments do fill up.
- Prenatal/Pregnancy spa treatment: There are three spa treatments specifically for pregnant women, including a prenatal massage and a Yummy Tummy body treatment.
- The Makana: this treatment is perfect for parents with infants. Both parents get a mini massage, while they also learn the art of baby massage from a certified practitioner. Two adults are necessary to do this treatment so one can always watch the baby.
- Painted Sky: teens can escape their parents and enjoy their very own space where they can get spa treatments, enjoy the yogurt bar and surf the web at one of the computer stations
- Note: you cannot visit the spa unless you get a treatment. Given the extra amenities, a massage will be worth the price.
Many thanks to Aulani, a Disney Resort, for hosting my family during our stay. I was given one spa treatment for the purposes of review. As always my opinions are my own; when they aren’t you will be the first to know.
*Photo credits: Photos without watermarks are copyright of Disney.