Ocean water, both warm and cold, has long been known for its therapeutic powers to rejuvenate and heal the mind and body.
So it made sense when I heard about a treatment called Healing by the Sea Thalasso hydrotherapy offered at the Ihilani Spa, located at the JW Marriott Ihilani Resort at Ko Olina on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.
Spa director Robin Desha says the treatment is designed to provide guests with the traditional Hawaiian healing powers of ocean water.
“For those lucky enough to live in Hawaii, we jump in the ocean when we’re not feeling well,” says Desha. “There’s something about the ocean water that helps in healing the body and we’re translating that concept into a relaxing and rejuvenating spa treatment.”
I arrived at the newly renovated Ihilani spa almost an hour before my appointment so I could relax in the steam room and Roman pool before being led into a dimly lit room featuring a large bathtub in the centre of the floor. Before stepping into the tub, I was asked to choose from various colours of light, representing the body’s seven chakras, to be beamed towards me during my treatment. I chose blue because it deals with the neck, an area of my body that’s chronically stressed from being hunched over a computer all day. I was also able to personalize an aromatherapy scent and, again, I chose an anti-stress version. This vacation was all about letting the stress of constant deadlines slip away. I then stepped into the tub, now full of ocean water pumped directly from the resort’s lagoons, where a series of hydro and air jets provided an underwater massage unlike anything I’d ever experienced before.
The renovations at the spa were part of the $18-million facelift completed last November at the Ihilani, which is nestled on 640 lush green acres that also includes four tropical lagoons edged with white sand and swaying palm trees. The water of the lagoons is so blue and clear I could see the bottom of the ocean for as far as I swam. While a guardian reef ensures no unwanted marine visitors enter the secure swimming areas, dolphins are a common sight just beyond. And talk about tropical—on the championship golf course, golfers must pass under a waterfall to move from the 11th to 12th hole.
The tranquility of the resort, located on the less developed west side of Oahu, half an hour from the crowds of Waikiki, also helped me relax at the start of our vacation.
Soon after arriving I discovered the resort is aptly named. The word Ihilani is Hawaiian for “heavenly splendor,” a fitting description for this tropical retreat.
The Ko Olina area has managed to stay under the radar of many travellers to Hawaii, but that’s likely to change with the completion of the adjacent Aulani Disney Hawaii Resort scheduled to open this August. But even with Disney’s contribution to Ko Olina, there’s still plenty of soft white sand and turquoise blue water to go around.
Families with children are also very welcome at the Ihilani and members of the Keiki Beach Club program are treated to cookies and milk sent to their room each night of their stay.
Delighting both children and adults during our stay at the Ihilani was the fact the Black Pearl, the famed pirate ship from the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie, was docked at the marina on the edge of the Marriott’s property. That in itself is well worth the trip to Ko Olina.
Getting there: The JW Marriott Ihilani at Ko Olina is located 25 minutes west of the Honolulu International Airport. Travellers can reserve a taxi or shuttle for about $50 one way, but I recommend renting a car. In the weeks leading up to our May visit, Hotwire.com was offering subcompact cars for as little as $7 a day and full-sized sedans starting at $13.