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Spa Ratings - Spa Halekulani at the Halekulani Resort, Honolulu, Hawaii

By "The Massage Mice"

In February 2004, Massage Today began publishing Spa Ratings, a periodic column in which two professionals (dubbed the "massage mice") not affiliated with the spa industry anonymously reviewed and subsequently rated spa massage services. As enthusiasm for Spa Ratings grew, so did Massage Today's vision for this feature. If we were going to publish spa reviews and ratings, why not also reward the spa with the highest score? This is how the Best Spa Massage Award came into being.

Massage Today is pleased to announce that the recipient of the Second Annual Best Spa Massage Award is Spa Halekulani at the Halekulani Resort in Honolulu, Hawaii, whose superior services and massage treatments received a rating of 98 out of a possible 100 – a rating of highest excellence.

Spa Halekulani at the Halekulani
Resort, Honolulu, Hawaii – 98 pts
Points Rating
95-100 Excellent
90-95 Outstanding
85-89 Very Good
80-84 Good
70-79 Average
50-69 Below Average
0-49 Poor

There is an extraordinary massage/spa experience going on at the Spa Halekulani. They offer a variety of massages, but by far the best is a combination of Lomi Lomi Hawaiian massage with a stone massage. It begins in the waiting area, which is a bit smaller than it should be, but is compensated for by a most unusual chair and footrest. The footrest looks like it is made up of exposed straw ends and that it would be most uncomfortable to rest your feet on, but it is made from the water hyacinth plant. It is soft and comfortable, and allows air to circulate freely.

The therapists then arrive and take the clients out onto a patio area overlooking the pool and the ocean. They use pu ili sticks, and lightly work over the bottom of the client's feet before taking the client to a massage room. This unique way of starting a massage tells you this entire experience is something out of the ordinary. The massage room is roomy, beautifully appointed and spotlessly clean. The experience starts with the therapist spraying the room with maile mist, which is made from the maile plant. The therapist said the plant was used to greet Hawaiian royalty in the past; it has a unique and very pleasant smell. They also put crushed maile leaves in a bowl beneath the massage table's face cradle. The massage table was adequate in width and size, and the face plate was comfortable.

The massage therapist then asks detailed questions about the client's needs based upon the answers given to a written questionnaire filled out in the waiting room. The therapist makes impeccable use of draping and bolsters throughout the massage. There is no standalone changing room. Instead, the therapist steps out of the massage room, and the clients change right there. The massage room has its own locker, and the room is spacious enough to be an acceptable substitute.

The reservation reception staff was extremely friendly and helpful. The reservation procedure was prompt and clear. The only area for improvement would be that the spa management specify a gratuity in advance. If a person wishes to leave an additional gratuity, it's a very time-consuming process to have one gratuity taken off and a different one put back on.

The massage itself was more than anyone could hope for. The therapist combined the best features of stone massage with Lomi Lomi massage. During the massage, the client lies on his/her back. Stones are pre-positioned underneath, warmed to exactly the right temperature, and provide heated acupressure so as to offer maximum relaxation and release of aching muscles. These stones also are used as an aid in the massage, using Lomi Lomi techniques with a strong focus on working acupressure points. The overall effect was excellent; the relaxation effect lasted for some time after the massage. The therapists responded well to feedback from their clients.

When the massage was over, another unique feature occurred; the therapist took the clients back to the original patio and provided them with tea to drink, along with a shish kebob stick with skewered frozen melon balls. It was a delightful counterpose to the heat of the stone massage and the heat of Hawaii. It was a massage experience one will not soon forget.

Rating Criteria

Reservations Desk (5 points) – Evaluation based on the helpfulness, friendliness and promptness with which the task was handled.

Waiting Area/Changing Room/Locker Room/Showers (10 points) – Evaluation based on spa amenities, atmosphere and cleanliness.

Massage Room & Massage Table (10 points) – Evaluation based on ambiance, cleanliness, lighting, music/sound, aroma, and temperature of room, as applicable, and the comfort of the table, as well as the type of linens and bolsters/support devices employed.

Massage (75 points) – Evaluation based on whether appropriate questions were asked of client; technique and pressure; time allocation; response to client needs, requests, questions and feedback; use of massage oils, lotions, devices and aids; proper draping technique; relaxation/therapeutic effect of massage; water/refreshments offered to client; overall attitude of the massage therapist; and final impression.

Service Points
 Massage  75 out of 75
 Massage Room  5 out of 5
 Massage Table  5 out of 5
 Changing Room  4 out of 5
 Waiting Area  4 out of 5
 Reservations  5 out of 5
Grand Total: 98 points 


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Date Last Modified - Wednesday, 17-Dec-2008 12:35:26 PDT