WHILE VISITING HAWAI’I, relaxation and tranquil vibes aren’t exactly difficult to come by. Add a 4-star resort of epic proportions and Disney-level attention to detail to the equation, and you’re essentially at the mecca of rest and relaxation. Enter Aulani, A Disney Resort on Oahu. The spa, Laniwai, is a first for a Disney property, but you wouldn’t know it by its level of sophistication and ease of practice.
While lounging on the beach between dips in the lagoon, I couldn’t imagine my day getting much more serene, but my spa appointment at Laniwai was fast approaching. Duty called.
I arrived at the spa about 45 minutes ahead of my scheduled treatment to explore Kula Wai, the only outdoor hydrotherapy garden on the island. The spa recommends guests arrive anywhere between 45 and 60 minutes ahead of their treatment for the full hydrotherapy experience.
After a quick check-in with the front desk, I was led through a muted, almost dreamlike hallway to a small, shallow pool with pebbles lining the bottom. I chose a smooth rock from a collection handed
to me by my spa guide and read the word on the rock: “Listen.” I laughed to myself, as I was traveling with my mother and just left her minutes before back on the beach — she would have taken way too much satisfaction from this moment. My guide told me to hold the rock in my hand for a brief moment and think about the word and my intentions and gently toss it into the pool, which I did before rounding the corner to two saunas, a locker room and showers to wait for the highly anticipated Kula Wai.
Once in my bathing suit and plush robe, I stepped outside into the courtyard and immediately saw what all the fuss was about. A small station allows you to create your own body scrub, choosing scented salts and a small container to keep them in, before you move into the main part of the garden. The tropical oasis featured pools of different temperatures, six rain-style showers and various spaces to lounge in quiet solitude — not something easily achieved at a Disney resort.
I walked along the reflexology path, designed to massage your feet as you move, and made my way to one of the soaking pools. Guests can order healthy meals, juices and smoothies to be delivered to the courtyard and spend the day hopping from soaking pool to pool, rinsing off under the rainfall showers, dipping in the high-powered jet-stream whirlpools or adding on a vitality pool experience. I chose to stick with just one pool during my downtime, where a spa representative found me about 10 minutes later to escort me to my treatment.
I followed him to a resting room, found a balmy lounge chair to lie back on and was quickly rewarded with a warmed aromatherapy towel around my neck and shoulders. After a few minutes, I was nearly asleep and would have easily called it a day — no need for a treatment; this will do; I’ll just stay here.
But it was time for my Certified Organic facial, and even my glacial pace as I rose from the lounge chair wasn’t going to stop my aesthetician from pleasantly waiting for me to show me into the next room. We chatted for a few minutes about my skin type, any problem areas I have or special concerns I wanted her to address. She left me alone for a few minutes to get ready and came back with a curated treatment lineup of lotions and potions, tailored to my face and specific skin type.
With my eyes closed and soothing music lulling me into a reverie, I felt lotions, oils, light exfoliants and gentle massaging working the products into my face, neck, shoulders and arms. The swift, fluid motions of applying, massaging and reapplying left my skin feeling light and refreshed, even while more rounds of application followed. Tropical scents filled the room, which I later learned were mango, plumeria and eucalyptus whole-plant ingredient-based products.
After my 50-minute treatment, my aesthetician applied SPF 25 to my face and asked me to stay out of the sun for about five minutes — it seemed like a fair trade, so I agreed. She left so I could change back into my bathing suit and robe, and I caught a glimpse of my dewy skin in the mirror. My face, shoulders and arms looked like new. The air felt crisper, my skin felt completely refreshed, and I immediately vowed to do better with my at-home skin regime. I later learned the purely organic facial is designed to balance, soften and naturally moisten your skin while stimulating cells. So … check, check and check.
Peeling myself away from the mirror, I went to collect my things from the locker room, where fellow guests complimented my glowing skin and excitedly discussed their own treatments. Keeping my five-minutes-out-of-the-sun promise, I took my time sipping mint-infused water and changing back into my beach coverup.
Wandering out of the spa, I found myself at the same pebble pool where another guest was reading her own rock, “Strength.” She tossed the rock in the water and a small splash hit a low-hanging glass raindrop, producing a crystal-like light over the pool. Ripples reverberated over the water and reflected onto the walls, creating a physical manifestation of laniwai, which translates to “freshwater heaven.” See? I listened.
Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa 92-1185 Ali’inui Drive Kapolei, HI 96707. Tel 866 443 4763 disneyaulani.com
THE MOST EXCLUSIVE TOURS OF EGYPT EVER OFFERED
Tucked away between the verdant hills of the Dominican Republic and beautiful waters of the Caribbean Sea, Samaná is the perfect year-round destination. No matter what time of year you choose to visit this hidden gem, you can check things off your travel bucket list. In the summer, escape the busy tourism hot spots and explore off-the-beaten path areas and activities; in the winter, embark on an eco-excursion like whale watching in Samaná Bay.
The coastal town of Belek in Antalya serves as the setting for the brand new, 5-star Cullinan Belek, named for the largest rough diamond ever discovered. Set along the sparkling azure waters of the Turkish Riviera, the new property boasts its own private white-sand beach, with 600 plush guestrooms (including 10 luxurious villas), all providing sea views. The hotel also has 13 swimming pools, 10 dining venues and five bars.
Start planning that long-awaited trip to the island of Ireland. With all travel restrictions now lifted, there has never been a better time to visit.
Museums beckon wherever we go. They amuse and enlighten travelers and bring to public attention historical, artistic, scientific and natural wonders. Most are thought-provoking and educational, stretching our minds and our knowledge of the world. Some, however, stand out as just plain quirky: personal and sometimes whimsical collections, museums dedicated to a unique skill or long- forgotten industry, arcane collections originally designed for scientific study. Others devote their space to sharing a subject that represents one person’s consuming passion.
Just north of the bustling city of Jacksonville on Florida’s East Coast, historic Amelia Island is a slower, dreamier destination — especially for food lovers. Fresh catch is always a great place to begin, but the island also offers a wide selection of specialty food shops, brewpubs and great restaurants well worth exploring.
There’s no better time to plan the vacation you’ve been missing. Step aboard with your better half, your friends or the whole family and reconnect, reunite and rejoice with 25 percent off cruise fares for all guests. We’ll also help everyone get there with 25 percent off airfare from 20 major gateways across the country or $100 savings per person on flights from all other gateways when you book your air travel using Flights by Celebrity.*
The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection celebrated an exciting moment recently when Evrima, its inaugural yacht, completed a series of successful sea trials. On June 9, in Santander, Spain, Evrima reached what is considered one of the final shipbuilding milestones prior to launch with the sea trials, a series of tests carried out when the yacht is sailing on open waters. Captain Steven MacBeath led the trials, alongside a team of senior officers, engineers, contractors and shipyard staff.