April 26, 2013

Aloha Spa ~ The Na Ho'ola Spa, Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach, Oahu, Hawaii
With all the excitement Waikiki has to offer, I was surprised to learn the most relaxing place I found was also at the centre of it. Like the bronze statue of Duke Kahnamoku, the Na Ho'ola Spa at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa welcomes you with open arms.

This was my first visit to the spa, and I was surprised to learn it wasn’t created as an afterthought or hidden in a quiet or dark part of the hotel as many hotel spas are. The Na Ho’ola Spa is featured front and center of the resort. It’s three floors up from the street and bathed in the sunshine, with panoramic views of Waikiki Beach, the swaying palm trees, the cresting waves and, yes, the statue of the Duke below ... who almost seems to say, “Relax, enjoy, go with the wave ...”

Upon entering the Na Ho’ola Spa at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa, I was greeted with a display of brilliance with a clean, bright design, wood flooring, floor-to-ceiling windows and an abundance of southern window light. (I don’t remember ever before wearing my sunglasses into a spa.)

Greeted warmly by the spa’s staff, I completing my intake form, and received instructions to the men’s change room, where I found everything well-organized, well-stocked and clean. I planned my visit a little early, so as to enjoy the fabulous sauna, and hydrate with a couple of glasses of water. After showering and feeling wonderfully relaxed, I ventured to the large relaxation room (again with the view) and laid back on a comfortable lounge bed. Soon I was met by my therapist and whisked away.

A room with a view, Na Ho'ola Spa
Living in the Pacific Northwest, I’m not used to the Hawaiian sun (or much sun for that matter). Conscious of its effect on my face, I elected to have a Deluxe Lomi Lomi Facial - a Na Ho’ola signature treatment. My therapist took great care in talking to me about my skin, and helped select a blend of organic products designed to restore the essential elements of my skin. Nestled under the covers, I slowly began to drift off as my aesthetician went to work on me - cleansing, hydrating and moisturizing, including creating a customized mask. Icing the cake, my treatment was complemented by a wonderfully soothing neck and shoulder massage.

I was very impressed with my experience at the Na Ho'ola Spa. At over 10,000 square feet on two levels, including 16 treatment rooms, the spa is large, but not too big. Staff were friendly and professional, and the spa menu offers a wide variety of Hawaiian-inspired therapies. For your next visit to Oahu, the Na Ho’ola Spa, Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa should be on your itinerary.

Na Ho’ola Spa, Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa

~ Craig Oliver, Editor-in-Chief, Spas of America

April 19, 2013

Taking the Waters at British Columbia's Kingfisher Oceanside Resort & Spa

My recent visit to Vancouver Island’s Kingfisher Oceanside Resort & Spa surprised me. I knew this resort has a solid reputation and a loyal following from customers across Canada and the Pacific Northwest, but  sometimes going in with high expectations can leave you disappointed. I wasn’t.

After a one-hour scenic drive north from Nanaimo, I arrived at the resort, which was nestled like a seagull, overlooking the ocean, fenced to the north and south by towering Douglas Fir trees. My first impression was that it looked modest and unpretentious. Driving in, I was reminded of a private club. At check-in I was met with warm smiles and the friendly faces of the Kingfisher’s staff.

Opening the door to my room, the Orca Suite, I was immediately greeted by the ocean in front of me. True to its name, the Orca Suite was spacious, with a separate bedroom, en suite bathroom, fully stocked kitchen, and living and dining area with a natural gas fireplace. With all this space, in such a beautiful setting, one wishes they weren’t alone. But the sounds of the waves hitting the beach in front of me reminded me I wasn’t.

I soon ventured to the spa, where I was to experience the Kingfisher’s signature Pacific Mist
Hydrotherapy. Dressed in my swimsuit, robe and sandals, I was greeted by Danielle, who would be my guide for the next hour. I followed her downstairs, where the Pacific Mist Hydrotherapy occupied the entire lower floor in soft lighting, gentle music and the rush of water. Danielle explained how this wellness journey offers the benefits of hydrotherapy, including remineralization, detoxification and relaxation, in a setting evoking Vancouver Island’s natural seaside elements.

The treatment follows eight unique elements: Swiss Shower, Mineral Massage Pool, Waterfall Massage, Steam Cave, Glacial Waterfall, River Walk, Sea Mineral Soak, Tidal Baths ... and finally the relaxation lounge. Here you’re encouraged to cool down, catch your breath and rehydrate while taking in gorgeous views of the ocean, mountains and nearby islands.

Pacific Mist Hydrotherapy is one of the most unique spa experiences I’ve had - a true “taking of the waters.” I enjoyed it because it was so different from drifting away on a massage table. I felt present and relaxed - away from all the interruptions of life. Danielle was nothing short of wonderful - answering all of my questions, checking in on me, and topping up my ever-dwindling glass of water (I must have consumed about a dozen).

Feeling energized and relaxed (and a little hungry) after my treatment, I made my way to the Kingfisher’s signature restaurant, The Breakwater. Staying true to my British Columbia spa experience, I enjoyed a delicious plate of Saltspring Island Mussels in red curry, coconut milk, lemongrass and cilantro, complemented by a glass of BC’s Wild Goose Riesling.

I highly recommend visiting the Kingfisher and its signature Pacific Mist Hydrotherapy - either on your own or with friends, family or a romantic partner. But given a choice, I'd suggest taking someone with you. Life is better shared.

Kingfisher Oceanside Resort & Spa

~ Craig Oliver, Editor-in-Chief, Spas of America

April 9, 2013

Hilton's eforea spa brand opens in Canada

Innovative global spa concept eforea: spa at Hilton expands into Canada at Hilton Toronto/Markham Suites Conference Centre & Spa. As the first location for eforea in the country and the fourth eforea spa in North America, the converted 5,000-square-foot spa features an exclusive treatment menu, innovative design features and carefully selected product partners appealing to today's global travelers.

"As the global expansion of eforea: spa at Hilton continues, we are delighted to bring this dynamic concept to Canada," said Rob Palleschi, global head, Hilton Hotels & Resorts. "eforea is proving to be a strong solution for owners and is well received by our guests with 14 spas currently open and more than 90 in development."

eforea: spa at Hilton Suites Toronto/Markham

April 1, 2013

Sunriver, Oregon's Sage Springs Club Spa

Sage Springs Club Spa, Sunriver Resort, Oregon
A unique Northwest vacation destination for all seasons that creates togetherness and memories, Sunriver Resort provides unmatched activities and experiences in a serene, natural setting.

Set in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, Sunriver, Oregon lies 15 miles south of the city of Bend, offering a dry and temperate climate and a myriad of outdoor activities. Enthusiasts enjoy world-class golf, skiing and snowboarding, water sports, fishing, cycling and rock-climbing. The resort even boasts its own private airport - the only private airstrip in the Pacific Northwest.

The Sunriver Resort offers 63 holes of world-class golf, and was awarded Golf Magazine coveted Gold Medal, identifying this as one of America's best golf resorts. Carefully designed to preserve the natural beauty of the area, each golf course at Sunriver has a character all its own.

Guests looking to relax can take refuge in the Sage Springs Club & Spa. Offering a full range of massages, facials, body treatments, and salon services, this Pacific Northwest spa is the refuge of choice for relaxation seekers. Guests at Sage Springs have access to state of the fitness and weight room facilities, over 40 group fitness classes per week, indoor and outdoor tennis complex, indoor lap pool, hydro pools, and full service locker and steam rooms.

Sage Springs Club Spa, Sunriver, Oregon