At Kapalua Spa, relaxing with a strange brew

By Shane Nelson
Kapaula Spa Maui Brewing Beer BathAlthough the thought of bathing in beer initially sounded bizarre, that didn’t keep me from stripping down and climbing into a stone tub full of the stuff during my last visit to Maui.

Cecilia Hercik, the regional director of operations at the Kapalua Spa, first introduced the treatment a little over six months ago, hoping to attract a different kind of customer.

“Spas are really well attended by the female market, but I wanted to try something that would appeal to gentlemen,” she said. “And we are so lucky to have the Maui Brewing Co. not even 10 minutes away, so we partnered up and brought the first beer baths to the island.”

Inspired by baths offered at breweries in parts of Eastern Europe and Germany, the unconventional soak consists of comfortably warm water and what is probably best described as a giant teabag, filled with beer making essentials like hops, wheat and malt along with a few of the Maui Brewing Co.’s distinctive ingredients such as coconut or pineapple. Before clients get in the steeped concoction, a large amount of actual beer, blended with an assortment of Kapalua Spa bath gels, is poured directly into the tub.

“When you pour that in the warm water, it creates the head,” Hercik said. “So it makes you feel like you’re inside a large beer mug.”

Bathers are encouraged to sample customized exfoliating scrubs made from fresh honey, Hawaiian sea salt, and, you guessed it, beer. They’re also served a generous helping of delicious bread, made from Maui Brewing’s spent grains, along with a beer butter Hercik insists has been so popular guests keep asking to buy it, and a sizeable jug of nonalcoholic beer — the spa is still working on its liquor license — accented with pineapple and lemon.

“The response has been great,” Hercik said, noting that beer baths, with a long history of curative and relaxing benefits, have sold well and mostly to men, “which has been terrific.”

One of its kind

Talk for a while with Hercik and you’re sure to learn that the Kapalua Spa, located about 10 miles north of Lahaina in West Maui’s Kapalua Resort, is the island’s only destination spa.

“We are a place where the whole purpose is to help individuals develop a healthy lifestyle through spa cuisine and nutritional education, a full program of fitness and stress-reduction classes and, of course, therapeutic spa treatments,” she said. “The goal is to teach people as much as we can about bringing healthy habits back home.”

A 55,000-square-foot, three-story facility, the spa features dramatic ocean vistas and is home to both indoor and outdoor treatment rooms. At the center are a saltwater pool, sunning deck and men’s and women’s hydrotherapy areas, each equipped with cold rainwater showers, saunas, eucalyptus-infused steam rooms and waterfall-fed hot tubs. And while the loaded treatment menu includes facials, body wraps, exfoliations and a full array of salon services, Hercik seemed most proud of the spa’s massage philosophy.

“When we book, we just reserve the block of time, and then we allow our therapist to tailor experiences based on the individual’s needs,” she said. “Our massage therapists are really artists and passionate about helping guests, and we want them to use all of the skills in their toolboxes, so for everything from lomi lomi to deep tissue, it’s all just one price.”

Treatment bookings are commissionable to agents and range from $150 for individuals up to $390 for couples packages. Guests over age 16 staying at the nearby Outrigger Kapalua Villas have free access to the spa’s hydrotherapy circuits, fitness facility, relaxation rooms, saltwater pool and sunning deck as part of the property’s $25-per-day resort fee.

“Travel agents are always blown away,” said Dina McCallion-Edmisson, the director of sales for Outrigger’s Maui condominium collection, who frequently hosts site inspections of the spa while showing off the resort. “They always comment on how beautiful it is, about how good it smells in there, and how relaxing it is.”

The Kapalua Spa beer bath is $150 for one adult, $250 for a bath and massage and $390 for a couples bath and massage.

Visit www.kapalua.com/spa.
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