A traditional Hawaiian healing treatment

The Anara Spa. And, no, that's not me in the pool.

When I went to the front desk this morning to ask for a late check-out, explaining that I had a red-eye flight back to the mainland this evening, they told me no problem. “Would 2 o’clock be okay?”

Well, that was very nice, I said, but I wonder what I’ll do between two and ten when my flight leaves. “Would 6 o’clock be better?” she asked me.

God love ‘em. There aren’t a lot of hotels that will give you a 6pm late check-out.

That problem solved, I then decided that what I’d do on my last day at the Grand Hyatt Kauai was treat myself to a massage. Maybe a special massage. Something thoroughly Hawaiian. So I perused the spa brochure in my room. There was something called the lokahi which began with a Hawaiian ritual bath (that sounded naughty) followed by a lomilomi massage, volcanic foot scrub, and a coconut scalp massage. Very Hawaiian. Also very pricey ($695; I wasn’t feeling that generous about myself). Plus it would take the entire day (they threw in lunch for the seven-hundred bucks).

There was the pohaku (warm stones), a coco mango rain massage (a body polish), and a hapai massage, which sounded kind of good (until I read the last line which said it was for “moms-to-be”). And then there was the Traditional Hawaiian Healing Escape: “a profound experience that releases the mind, eases the body’s tension, and lightens the spirit.”

Oh my god…yes! Release my mind! Lighten my spirit! Certainly something with that description also had to include a cocktail or two, didn’t it?

So around noon I checked in at the front desk of the ANARA spa where a guy showed me the showers and where to find the free combs soaking in alcohol, just like at the barber I used to go to when I was a kid, and gave me some slippers and a robe. Then he took me to the spa hale, an open-sided pavilion, where I sat naked (except for my robe) trying to look at ease with the half-dozen other naked people sitting around staring into the near distance and sipping cold water with slices of cucumbers floating in it. After awhile, a very tall, elegant woman in a sarong came out and introduced herself as Yohana. She sat at my feet like a maiden and carefully washed my feet while I focused on keeping my somewhat small terry-cloth robe closed between my legs (I’ve never been to a spa where they issued robes of suitable size for men who are six-feet-three).

When that rather embarrassing bit was done (I kept thinking how horrified Jesus must have been when Mary Magdalene washed his feet with her hair), Yohana took me back to a garden room with shutter doors open on to the garden and, after having me get naked on the table, told me to take three deep breaths “inhaling the ha, the breath of life, and exhaling anything that does not serve you,” and then she placed a palm on my back and chanted some Hawaiian prayer over me. I have no idea what she said but I liked it. It was like when I was a child and my mother would grab my hand just before we crossed the street. Certainly no harm would come to me while I was under the protection of Yohana.

Then there was the lomilomi massage which was probably wonderful although, to tell the truth, I sort of zoned out (and maybe even fell asleep) through the whole thing. After that Yohana gave me a warm coconut oil scalp massage which really did put me to sleep. And then it was over. I hate it when a massage is over. It’s like when you’ve opened the very last Christmas present and there’s nothing left. Now what?

Yohana left the room and I sat up and got dressed and when she came back in I was sitting on the edge of the massage table facing the tropical garden full of bright green palms and deep red ti plants. I was feeling groggy as hell. Yohana asked me if there was anything else she could do for me today. “I wonder,” I said, “if you’d mind giving me your blessing.”

“You mean the Hawaiian blessing I gave you at the beginning of the massage?”

“No,” I told her, “your personal blessing.”

She seemed to understand what I was getting at. She held both of my hands in hers and looked very deeply into my eyes and the two of us were silent for a minute of two. Then she smiled and patted my arm. And that was that. My traditional Hawaiian healing massage was over. And so was my time on Kauai.

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1 comment

  1. Angeline’s avatar

    I wanted this story to keep going; it was great, and a wonderful intro for my trip next week. Thanks.

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