Spa at Waikiki Marriott mixes a heavenly brew

WAIKIKI -- The Spa Olakino and Salon at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort opened last month, the final touch in a $60 million makeover initiated in 2002.

Olakino is the Hawaiian word that means "a state of well-being and health." In keeping with that designation, my first visit to the spa left me in a state of Zen-like serenity while it introduced me to creative treatment combinations using native Hawaiian plants.

The awa, honey and milk wrap (50 min., $95) combines the awa root's relaxing effect on the muscles with the exfoliating properties of honey and the moisturizing qualities of the milk and honey mix.

Hawaiians have long ingested the awa root to ease aches and pains. The delicious smell of the ingredients made it tempting, indeed, to dine on the treatment.

Tanya, my therapist, rubbed the mixture over my body, wrapped me loosely in plastic, and, to open my pores, tucked me under a steaming wet blanket. Over that went another blanket to retain the heat.

With New Age music and the scent of lemongrass filling the room, she left me alone in my cocoon for 20 minutes. Next I was treated to a kukui nut oil massage, used by Hawaiians for its healing properties.

Then came the pineapple and papaya facial (one hour, $125). Filled with alpha hydroxyl acids, the citrus fruits help improve skin texture and reduce fine lines. Maile, my aesthetician, incorporated a soothing face, neck and shoulder massage into the facial.

The signature spa treatment is the Olakino Experience. A foot wash with warm mineral water, Hawaiian salt and peppermint oil begins the four-hour affair. A massage featuring Thai, lomi lomi, shiatsu and reflexology techniques precedes a pineapple and papaya enzyme body scrub. An aloe and sea kelp wrap ends the session. Lunch and champagne cocktail are included ($435).

The Marriott spa, designed by local spa and salon veteran Paul Brown also makes use of its location. A 75-foot-long window in the waiting area enables guests to gaze at the ocean across the street while they wait.

The spa isn't spacious. "It's what we consider a boutique spa," said director Lena Mossman.

Though it is bigger than the day spas Brown started in Honolulu, it is "not overbuilt," he said. "So many [spas in Hawaii] are so big," he added.

Spa Olakino eliminated the group steam room and Jacuzzi in favor of 10 treatment rooms with steam showers inside.

Spa Olakino is Brown's fifth spa salon in Hawaii. A spa has become an essential part of the hotel business, Brown said.

"Any hotel that wants to compete has to have a spa," he said. "I don't think it's a trendy thing. It's here to stay."

Spa treatments pay 10% if agents book directly with the spa. The hotel also offers spa plans commissionable at 10%.

For more information, call (808) 922-6611 or visit

To contact reporter Katherine Nichols, send e-mail to [email protected].

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