Luxurious Laniwai Spa at the Aulani Resort, A Disney Resort & Spa

Recently I met Lucia Rodriguez Amasio, the Laniwai Spa Director at the Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa for a tour of her 23,000-square-foot luxurious spa. As she greeted me in the lobby, I learned Laniwai in Hawaiian means freshwater heaven.

The backsplash at the reception counter is wavy and white with a hue of rainbow colors. The lighting decor includes a crystal raindrop chandelier and soothing cloud lights. Both symbolize the gifts of nature to create a rainbow. “Rain comes down from the heavens, travels down the mountains to the sea and back to the heavens,” Amasio said. “We try to replicate that experience for our guests.”

What makes this spa different than other resort spas is the Disney Imagineers play on color, light and water to create a rainbow effect throughout the spa. Also, the music is not Disney-esque, but soothing Hawaiian sounds that change as one walks through the locker rooms, rain showers, steam room, dry sauna and treatment rooms.

Spa guests are initially given a wood bowl filled with po.haku or wish stones. I was instructed to hold my hand over the stones and select one “or one might select you,” said Amasio. I chose one with the word “Balance.” On the back side was the Hawaiian translation Pono. “Balance can be both physical and mental,” Amasio said, as she handed me a glass of pineapple lemongrass water to begin my detox cleanse. I held onto the stone and followed her to the center of the spa before stopping at a small circular pond.  “Our guests can never get lost, because this is distinctive and round like a rainbow. We only see the arch of a rainbow, but actually a rainbow is a complete circle,” she said.

I was told to make a wish, and place the stone into the pond. “Keep balance in your mind all day,” Amasio said. I noticed as I dropped “Balance” into the water, it landed near stones that said “Dream”, “Happiness” and “Harmony”. The wood sticks lining the wall in this area are made of the ohi’a lehua trees. It’s a species of flowering evergreen tree that is endemic to the six largest islands of Hawaii.

Amasio encouraged me to drink a glass of pineapple and coconut water from the hydration station. “All superfoods rich in antioxidants to help fight free radical damage, promote skin cell rejuvenation, boost metabolism and provide a super immune boost,” she said.

Guests are advised to arrive one hour before their appointment to take full advantage of the outdoor relaxation garden as a prelude to their treatment. We stopped at the complimentary exfoliation station known as the Pulu Bar. Guests may take a container of coconut vanilla salt scrub to one of the six different shower heads to achieve a soothing and polishing E Kala Mai shower experience. Nearby are two different temperature plunge pools – a hot one at 101 degrees and a colder one at 90 degrees for sensitive or pregnant guests. Above are rain drop lights hanging in the lushl trees. “This tropical area has become a popular spot for anniversary celebrations and even weddings,” she said.

Spa guests may sit out in a cabana in the garden and order light and healthy snacks that include a protein shake and salad. There are complimentary banana muffins and cookies available in the morning, and chocolate treats in the afternoon. The staff will also offer a tea flight served with organic gummy bears for a sweet snack.

Taking a tour of the 15 treatment rooms, I learned guests can choose from four different Hawaiian scents for aromatherapy and a vaierty of music to personalize their experience. The treatment beds are heated, and the products used are organic lotions that are not too strong to all the senses. After a treatment, guests receive a glass of hydration water and cube of guava jelly for a little spike of sugar.

What is new for younger guests is a high-style retail studio and salon to help little girls can get luau ready and become Moana or pretty mermaids, while young boys can don new board shorts and rash guards to look super cool in the Rainbow Reef or sliding down the Volcanic Vertical waterslide.

The Painted Sky Spa experience is for 13 to 17-year-old guests who seek a clarifying facial, new hairstyle, or makeup lesson. The 1,500 sq. ft area. allows teens the Laniwai spa privileges with an accompanied adult. Together mother and daughter may enjoy the showers, plunge pools, relaxation lounge areas, complimentary snacks, and hydration waters.

Since the Painted Sky is near the adult-only outdoor Wailana pool and pool bar, parents can enjoy some quiet time while their teen is receiving a treatment. Also near the spa is the 2,000 sq. ft. Mikimiki Fitness Center filled with Life Fitness equipement, free weights and stretching areas.

While enjoying the Alunai Resort or staying at a nearby property in Ko Olina, be sure to make a reservation at the luxurious Laniwai Spa to unwind, detox and satisfy all of your senses.

To make a reservation, go to

Read my review in Just Luxe –

Hawaiian Wedding at the Four Seasons Oahu in Ko Olina


Finishing up lunch with Yvonne Hunter, the Director of Public Relations at the Four Seasons Oahu Ko Olina Resort, she took me on a tour of the newer resort. Almost three years ago the JW Marriott Ihilani (built in 1998), became the Four Seasons Oahu. Set among green lawns and a dramatic coastline with the Waianae Mountains in the background, Hunter told me Ko Olina in Hawaiian means “Place of Joy.”


Walking out to the resort’s grassy oceanfront peninsula enclave, I noticed a long table beautifully set for 30 guests. Exotic flowers were displayed to enhance this semi-private wedding or reception spot offering ocean, resort and verdant mountains.


As we passed the adult-only infinity pool, I noticed the bride-to-be and her wedding party enjoying some sun and fun at a private cabana. Zane the Four Seasons Tanning Butler approached the ladies with a tray of five different strengths of sunning lotions and sunscreens to help prevent painful sunburns and achieve golden tans.


Hunter shared that other pre-wedding activities include swimming in the sheltered beach lagoon with complimentary water toys and paddle boards. Guests can take a ride on the Four Seasons outrigger canoe or relax and get a massage in a waterfront cabana at the Naupaka Spa & Wellness.


The 35,000 sq. ft. space offers 17 treatment rooms, plus three muliwai healing hales. Muliwai is Hawaiian for where the water of a slow-moving stream meets the sea. These three hales offer two treatment beds and oceanfront breezes and views. Yamaguchi Salon is available for bridal hair, makeup and nails, while there is a men’s barbershop for the groom and groomsmen. The luxury facility includes steam, sauna, whirlpool, change rooms, and relaxation areas.


Hunter walked me over to the historically inspired Hawaiian chapel built in the center of the resort. No one needs to leave the resort for a traditional or Hawaiian wedding ceremony. This intimate Four Seasons chapel has beautiful stained glass windows. Doors open out to the tropical gardens for cocktails and pompous. Executive chef Martin Knaubert and his team will happily prepare dinner outside or in the Ocean Ballroom. Weddings can also be held next door at the historic Lanikuhunoa Cultural Estate.


Before leaving Hunter led me through the 3,840 sq. ft. Presidential Suite on the fourth floor. Offering full ocean views, the suite offers two Hawaiian decorated bedrooms, a private theater screening room, elegant dining and living room, plus a stairway leading up to a 516 sq. ft. terrace and lounge area. She showed me a separate kitchen for guests to have meals prepared and enjoyed for al fresco dining.


The Four Seasons Oahu is truly a “Place of Joy” for vow renewals or a memorable wedding that appeals to all the senses.

To make a reservation, go to Four Seasons Oahu Ko Olina

Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resorts

To get away from the cold and rain last month, my husband and I booked a flight to Honolulu for a weekend at the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort. Located in the center of Waikiki, it’s a wonderful beachside property with three restaurants and a pool overlooking Diamond Head.


Once we arrived at the hotel, we discovered they now offer a Signature Experience for guests included in the resort fee. It begins with a warm arrival greeting with a tray of rolled cold towels and glasses of local juice given to each guest upon check-in.


Taking the elevator to the 8th floor, we admired our room with a King size bed and sitting area with a double size sofa bed. There was a small refrigerator in the bathroom, and a safe in the closet. A sliding glass door opened to a balcony large enough for to chairs and a table, offering views of the city, International Market Place, and a peek of the ocean.


We donned our bathing suits, went for a swim in the warm Pacific, and ordered Mai Tais while lounging at the pool.


There are multiple perks included in the new Signature Experience. One is a personal Outrigger beach tote bag for guests to take a bottle of sunscreen, towels, a book or magazine and bottles of water for a day at the beach or out exploring the island. Guests get to take this natural fiber bag home as a souvenir. Other perks include complimentary in-room and throughout the resort wifi, two new bottles of water delivered each day and a local weekday newspaper.

My favorite amenity was unlimited rides on the Waikiki Connection Trolley with the show of an Outrigger room card. The trolley makes a roundtrip loop with 14 stops (one is close to the entrance of the Outrigger hotel) from downtown Honolulu to the Diamond Head crater. It’s an informational ride where guests learn about the history of the island along the tour. Guests also receive free museum admission tickets to the Honolulu Museum of Art (a trolley stop). On the third Sunday of each month, the museum offers a Family Free Day with live music, interactive art sessions and interactive art guide. Guests also receive discount cards for the Bishop Museum, Iolani Palace and Waikiki Aquarium. The Bishop Museum is the Hawaii State Museum of Natural and Cultural History located in the historic Kalihi district of Honolulu. The Waikiki Aquarium is one of the oldest public aquariums in the United States. This aquarium features a variety of Hawaiian Marine communities, and a Hawaiian monk seal habitat.


There are three onsite restaurants at the Outrigger Waikiki Beach resort and families eating breakfast at Duke’s or Hula Grill get a free children’s breakfast (children under 5 years old) with a paid adult meal. The Duke’s breakfast buffet is under $20 and one of the most popular beach dining destinations on Waikiki.


In the evening, there is live music below Duke’s, on the outdoor patio near the large heated whirlpool. On Sunday’s the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort presents Grammy nominated and award winning Hawaiian musician Henry Kapono. His show becomes a lively beach party with an outdoor bar and food service available.

Also in the evenings are two live music or comedy shows at Blue Note inside the resort. It’s one of the best nightclubs in Hawaii with top notch performers such as Kenny G, Blood Sweat and Tears, and Roseanne Barr.


On our last morning, we noticed three couples in dresses and shorts standing near the water. The Outrigger offers complimentary Hawaiian vow renewal ceremonies at 7:45 a.m. Those interested need to complete at card from the front desk prior to the ceremony day. At the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort the vow renewal ceremony is on Monday and Thursday mornings.

The new Outrigger Signature Experience includes complimentary activities, interactive Hawaiian customs and exclusive off-site excursions that allows guests to interact with the local community and gain an increased appreciation for the beauty of Hawaii.

This article was featured in the April 2017 issue of Not Born Yesterday.

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