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Served elegantly poolside, a refreshing Mai Tai

The inviting pool in a picture perfect setting

A view towards Majestic Diamond head
A view of the Halekulani from the ocean
Warm tones and tropical influences flourish in the elegant guestrooms
Elegant box lunch at the spa
The relaxing Asian Pacific décor of the treatment rooms

By Jeanne Souders
Photography by Jeanne Souders

Having traveled many years to some of the most beautiful resorts and health spas around the world, I’ve always yearned to find a singular place that combined the absolute best of everything one would desire from both a hotel and a spa. That wish was granted when I recently discovered Halekulani on the beach in Waikiki, Hawaii. This magnificent beachfront property, whose name aptly means “house befitting heaven”, was originally a private estate and has been providing guests with a tropical respite combining unparalleled luxury with exquisite service since 1917. To further enhance this heavenly oasis, the hotel opened Spa Halekulani, offering guests the opportunity to experience the unique healing powers of the cultures of Asia, Hawaii and the South Pacific.

Eager to explore my dream come true, I checked into the Halekulani and at that moment, I knew I was in for something special. I was personally escorted to my guestroom that was not only large and comfortable, but also included a sizable patio that opened up to a breathtaking view of Diamond Head, the beach, and the poolside area below. Inside, no detail was left unattended. Most impressive were the bedside controls for air conditioning, lighting and service requests as well as the spacious bathroom with its cozy robes, deep, inviting bathtub and a shower where one could adjust the exact temperature of the pulsating water. Additionally, guests are treated daily to a fresh fruit plate including papaya, oranges and bananas.

The Halekulani finds many more ways to pamper its guests beyond its comfortable guestrooms. The large pool, which overlooks Waikiki beach just footsteps away, is constructed of glass mosaic tiles imported from South Africa and the surrounding lounge area provides a great place for relaxing, reading and enjoying one of Hawaii’s signature drinks, the Mai Tai. In addition to twenty-four hour room service, the hotel also houses three distinctly different restaurants serving some of Hawaii’s most divine food. Oceanside, there’s House Without a Key for light meals, cocktails and outdoor entertainment. For some of the islands best seafood and a large, yet exquisitely presented and tasty Sunday brunch, a visit to the open-air Orchids is a must. Lastly, the nine-course tasting menu at La Mer -- the island’s only AAA Five Diamond restaurant – is a truly unforgettable experience. Conceived by the Michelin-starred French Chef Yves Garnier, this menu combines influences from southern France with the island’s freshest fish, vegetables and fruits. After dinner, stop at Lewar’s Lounge for a tasty cocktail – my personal favorite being the tasting of international vodkas – and soothing jazz and piano music.

Halekulani – the Spa
With hotels adding spas onto their properties seemingly every day, the challenge of any new spa is to make itself unique and offer services that elevate it above the competition. At the Halekulani Spa, not only do they succeed in offering a menu of distinctive “experiences” from the Pacific Islands of Samoa, Tonga and Tahiti, but the staff surpasses expectations. Spa Director Tony Young has trained his staff well -- attentive, but not overbearing, the receptionists and therapists ensure that your every need is met and, more importantly, they do it with style and a true passion borne from loving their career.

With its intimate boutique style and distinctly calm Asian decor, the spa schedules appointments so that you feel as if you’re the only guest at the time. You’ll start your experience with a traditional foot massage and then be taken to the treatment rooms artfully concealed behind large sliding Japanese doors. The rooms are cozy and relaxing with subdued lighting, calming colors and a comfortable treatment table topped with the native, fragrant maile flower. Equipped with everything from a steam shower, hair and bath products as well as a locker for you clothes, the rooms are yours to enjoy even after your massage or wrap. Since they’re all encompassing, there’s no need to wander the halls in search of a communal steam or locker room.

Equally impressive is the list of services that make up the Spa Halekulani experience. You can select from an array of body scrubs and wraps with such fresh ingredients as hibiscus, papaya, pineapple, manoa mint as well as coconut passion. Some signature services include the Samoan inspired Nonu Massage that uses hot stones and the nonu to massage and treat the skin and immune system. The one that I found to pure bliss was the Polynesian Steam Therapy. After a relaxing massage, you’re covered in warm towels and wrapped in the traditional tapa cloth. While relaxing, steam is discreetly encompassing your body under the towels while you’re breathing in steam and receiving a foot massage. The rejuvenating Just for You Facial, tailored to meet your skin’s individual needs, is also available, as well as hair styling, manicures and pedicures. Afterwards, guests are encouraged to relax outside on the spa’s private patio and enjoy the benefits of the massaging lomi stick and indulge in some beautifully delectable spa sandwiches and juice.

Visit the Halekulani and Spa Halekulani – a place where heaven truly meets the beautiful island of Hawaii. For flying information, visit

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