Lomilomi means “to massage” in Hawaiian and I’ve most often seen it used with food – lomilomi salmon, lomilomi pork — but my lomilomi heaven has nothing to do with food. My nirvana came at the Laniwai Spa at Aulani, Disney’s new resort on Oahu.
When it comes to massages, I’m a meat and potatoes girl. I don’t like unusual treatments and hot stones are about as wild as I get. However, the traditional Hawaiian lomilomi massage description sounded interesting and I was on such a Hawaiian culture kick that it seemed like a perfect way to continue my “cultural education.”
A Sense of Community and Pride
If you visit the spa you’ll see that there is an emphasis on local products and giving back to the community. The tropical lotions used come from the Big Island bath and body company Hawaiian Body Products. The lomilomi sticks used in the massage are purchased from a Big Island High School program for at-risk teens and proceeds fund school field trips. And even the leftover food from the staff buffet is sorted and picked up by area farmers. These anecdotes were told to me with a sense pride that comes through in the service at the spa.
Signature Lomilomi Massage
Storytelling is a large part of Hawaiian culture and the massage strokes used in a lomilomi massage tell a story. If you’re interested you can ask your masseuse to tell the story, but be forewarned that the story is not always happy or relaxing.
There are two lomilomi massages at the Aulani: the traditional and the signature which includes hot stones and the use of lomilomi sticks, which in my massage were used mainly on my feet. I had never experienced the type of strokes used in lomilomi and found it very relaxing and soothing – just what a massage should be!
Laniwai offers every kind of treatment that you would expect but they also offer spa treatments for teens, families and mom, dad and baby. Teens have their own hang out area called Painted Sky, which is part lounge and part spa. Teens can get several types of spa treatments but not full body massages. If your child is 14 years or older and accompanied by a parent they can receive treatments at Laniwai.
For families, there are a couple of options including the “Ohana Means Family” treatment where your family is all together in the same large indoor/outdoor room and family members alternate between a foot massage and a regular massage. In the “Makana” treatment, mom and dad learn how to massage baby’s neck and shoulders for better rest and the tummy for better digestion.
Make the most of your spa day and arrive an hour or more before your appointment. The co-ed hydrotherapy gardens are a little touch of Shangri-La. There are hot mineral baths, an ice-cold plunge pool, Jacuzzis and my favorite, outdoor rain showers. The rain shower is comprised of six different “stations” of shower heads that are activated by motion sensors. I felt like my six year old running through the different shower heads that spray water from every direction – it is a very unique experience and one that is fun to repeat.
If you just want to relax and read or nap there are lounge chairs in the garden and the co-ed lounge is adjacent to the garden as well. Here you’ll be served tea, fruit-infused water or tasty carroty mini-muffins and dried fruit.
Whether or not a spa treatment is on your list of things to do at Aulani, you may want to check out the spa because it really is a beautiful space and a few precious hours without kids may be just what the doctor ordered. My Signature Lomilomi treatment was $160 plus tip and but you can purchase a day pass for $45 and run through the rain showers all day long.
Photo Credit: Kristi Marcelle
Editorial Note: Disney hosted Kristi’s stay and subsidized the cost of meals and the spa.
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