Two new spas at familiar Hawaiian resorts have become destinations in themselves. Both were conceived by Sylvia Sepielli (who also designed Sedona's Mii Amo and California's Spa Ojai), but they couldn't be more different.
Spa Grande at Grand Wailea
WHAT IT IS A marble behemoth with sweeping staircases, chandeliers, and wrought-iron chaises, but beautifully done. Go for old-fashioned glamour and a good, if sometimes muddled, mix of Ayurvedic, European, and Hawaiian treatments.
UNIQUE TREATMENTS Pohaku Lomi Lomi ($164): Muscles are kneaded with smooth, oven-warmed lava stones dipped in an avocado-olive oil mixture. Reflexology ($55): Your scalp and feet are massaged simultaneously by two therapists—sheer bliss.
BEST FEATURE Termé Hydrotherapy Circuit: a fantastic assemblage of steam rooms, waterfall-therapy showers, cold plunge pools, hot furo tubs, and baths from mud to herbal.
BUT . . . Remember, this is a 781-room resort great for families; intime it's not. At 3850 Wailea Alanui, Wailea, Maui; 808-875-1234, ext. 4949; www.grandwailea.com.
Spa at Mauna Lani
WHAT IT IS An authentic Hawaiian experience; a place where serenity and spirituality, rather than all-out luxury, are emphasized. Aside from the usual indoor areas, clustered around a jungle path are nine thatched hale (huts) outfitted for treatments. A healing-herb garden, a meditation pavilion, a Vichy shower, and a lava-rock sauna complete the grounds.
UNIQUE TREATMENTS The open-air sauna ($55): Guests slathered in clay mud sit in a semicircle of black lava rock as the sun dries the mud. Melted ice ladled over the rocks makes it bearable. To finish: a shower in the garden and meditation.
BEST FEATURE Dedication to traditional, indigenous ingredients and procedures, many developed by a local herbalist.
BUT . . . The outdoor massage areas and sauna are a cool idea but a hot reality; sometimes in Hawaii an air-conditioned room is just fine. At 68-1365 Pauoa Rd., Kohala Coast, Hawaii; 808-881-7922; www.maunalani.com.
Member of Fine Hotels, Resorts & Spas.