Visiting Kaua’i from Northern California, I had no idea what was waiting for me when I arrived at Kukui’ula, an ultra-private residence club and spa with a very clear intention—to exceed your every expectation. Upon arrival, I was captivated by the local luxury and artwork throughout the open-air plantation house that opens up onto a great lawn. It was a breezy day on the South shore of Kaua’i, and as I gazed over the central lava fire pit down to the ocean, I knew I had stepped into a private haven. My welcome included a tour of the lush upcountry farm and lake, and as I walked the land, I began to feel the relaxation that comes from knowing that where you are was carefully planned with vision.
As I entered the lavish 25,000-square-foot, six-room spa, I could tell that each step I took had been carefully coordinated, as Grace, the spa hostess, escorted me all the way through the ritual of the spa’s waters. The island-inspired bathing area is distinct and features opulent outdoor showers, tropical wraps in lieu of robes, and a skillfully stocked vanity. I grazed on frozen pineapple, bowls of chilled edamame, and a ginger tonic that were a mere sampling of what was available in the bamboo-concealed Sub-Zero refreshment stations.
Grace led me to the lava rock sauna where she placed my towel for me. Unlike any sauna I had been in before, it was bright, sunlit from the UV-protected glass ceiling. I felt connected to the sun and the heat in a new way. The neighboring steam room was entirely made of glass surrounded by palms and hibiscus that blew in the steamy breeze. Well done! The lava lined hot pool and cold plunge were generous and perfectly calibrated to facilitate the ritual—a science that is seldom mastered.
As I waited for my spa therapist, Grace brought me a green juice infusion of cucumber, celery, green apple, honeydew melon, and ginger. All services are custom formulated to meet your body’s present needs with the Wellness Treatment Intake, including intentions of Balance, Softer Skin, Sleep Better, Energy and Detox, and more. A custom treatment might incorporate hydrotherapy, exfoliation, massage (lomi lomi, Thai, shiatsu, and stone, among others) and skincare blended for a uniquely personalized service. Kukui’ula recently started to offer farm-to-table treatments, incorporating the healing plants harvested at their upcountry farm.
My spa therapist, a native of Hawai’i, was Summer, and she escorted me into an open-air spa suite with a soaking tub and outdoor shower. Just a couple more questions, and the rest of the communication for 90 minutes was between my body and her healing hands. Typically interested in the most distinct and complex treatment, on this occasion I desperately needed a thorough massage, and she seemed to know that already. I was presented with a variety of Epicuren massage lotions and selected my favorite, rose, instead of the more popular kukui coconut. Throughout the massage, the trade winds blew, connecting me to nature and to Kaua’i, the beautiful cousin of my childhood home, the island of O’ahu.
Summer is the type of healer the dreamer of Kukui’ula envisioned—one who intuitively knows more about what you need than you do. Each touch was placed precisely where it was needed most. This is art in motion, and I had the honor of receiving this rare art form. As my body was soothed by her intuitive hands, the massage concluded with a presentation of passion berry iced tea, fresh flowers, and a decadent chocolate truffle on a spoon of raw sugar.
Summer is the type of healer the dreamer of Kukui’ula envisioned—one who intuitively knows more about what you need than you do. Each touch was placed precisely where it was needed most. This is art in motion. . .
Left to linger as long as I desired, I toured the private retreat once more. There is also a men’s spa with equal accommodations, as well as a stunning co-ed lap pool and lounge area that features a swinging wooden day bed for relaxation. The grooming amenities in the bathing area were as extensive as any I have experienced, leaving no need unattended. Grace was nearby, just to make sure. Saying Aloha to Kukui’ula, I knew we would meet again.
Best for: Ultimate privacy, those who enjoy lingering before and after services to enjoy the immaculate and extensive spa bathing areas.
Drawbacks: You must be an owner or guest of the ultra-private Kukui’ula Club to access the property and to enjoy the spa.