A couple of years ago, Melia Goodenow, who founded Hawaiian Rainforest Naturals with her mom, hiked to the back of Manoa and gathered a few sets of four stones from a sacred underground pool at headwaters of the Apuakehau Stream, which used to flow through the land on which the spa stands today. These are healing stones, smoothed and full of mana (energy, power)—and these are what’s used in the signature Stones of Apuakehau treatment at Moana Lani Spa at the Moana Surfrider, a Westin Resort & Spa.
Goodenow, who was raised on Hawai‘i Island and studied Hawaiian lomilomi and laau lapaau (traditional Hawaiian healing using plants and herbs), developed this 80-minute treatment for the luxe spa with products from Hawaiian Rainforest Naturals.
It starts with a cleansing ritual that opens every treatment at the Moana Lani Spa: The therapist presents you a koa bowl filled with pink alaea Hawaiian sea salt, which is known for its healing and restorative properties. You’re asked to leave your worries, problems, stress and negative thoughts into the hoawe, or burden bowl, and into the salt. At the end of the treatment, that salt is placed into a larger collection bowl, which is emptied into the ocean fronting the hotel at sundown. (It’s true; I asked.)
This ritual is a perfect start for this particular massage, which was created to de-stress and re-energize. The healing stones—used cold, not heated—are supposed to draw out the heat of your physical and emotional stress and fill you with the radiant energy of the stream water.
The treatment starts with a mud wrap to your feet and legs with indigenous awa mud from Hawai‘i Island—to keep you grounded, my therapist explains. The volcanic mud also helps to draw out toxins and tension through the feet. I relax into the heated massage table, mellow Hawaiian music wafting from the speakers.
My therapist—and there are only a couple at the spa trained to provide this treatment—works on the rest of my tense body, using lomilomi techniques and an olena (turmeric) body cream with kukui oil to ease my aching muscles.
The mud is removed with warm towels and the stones—four of different sizes, all smoothed by decades of flowing freshwater—are placed on various pressure and energy points on my body. The largest of the four is placed on the small of my back, to keep me centered. An essence of apuakehau flowers are applied to my neck, tense from hours spent hunched at a laptop.
The final massage is focused on my scalp, using the healing stones on my neck and a soothing cream made from awa and ti flowers.
The 80 minutes fly by, and, by the end, I can’t move, like I’ve melted into the massage table. My limbs are warm, my muscles supple. I’ve forgotten whatever worries I had placed in the burden bowl at the beginning of the treatment. And I don’t care. This state I’m in—pure relaxation—is exactly what I needed—and exactly what the treatment had promised.
$295 for 80 minutes, Moana Lani Spa, inside the Moana Surfrider, 2365 Kalakaua Ave., Waikiki, (808) 237-2535, moanalanispa.com