The Spa at Ko‘a Kea in Hawai‘i
Photo: Resort aerial view © KO’A KEA HOTEL & RESORT AT PO‘IPŪ BEACH
THE TUCKED-AWAY LOCATION of the Koʻa Kea Hotel & Resort on the island of Kauaʻi proves a most appealing feature to couples seeking a quiet, romantic Hawaiʻian interlude. It also presented a bit of a challenge to my husband and me as we sought the entrance to its drive off the lushly landscaped boulevard which parallels Poʻipū Beach on the island’s sunny south shore. Armed with precise directions and using our vehicle’s navigation feature, we still managed to drive right past before reversing our course and spotting an inconspicuous sign tucked among the foliage. The grounds and buildings of two large resorts flanked the winding road which ended at the circular drive in front of Koʻa Kea’s main building.
As we entered the lobby, the floor-to-ceiling windows drew our gaze out over the saltwater pool, the palm-studded lawn and fire pits to the ocean just a few hundred feet away. Koʻa Kea boasts the closest hotel accommodations to the water on Kauaʻi, offering immediate access to water sports and stunning sunset views.
The property opened in 2009 and has garnered numerous “most romantic” and “best hotel” awards from a host of travel publications and organizations. Its name, meaning “white coral” in Hawaiʻian, honors the goddess representing spiritual power and new life. Fitting, as Koʻa Kea was built on the site of the former Poʻipū Beach Hotel, destroyed by devastating Hurricane Iniki in 1992. We anticipated it boded well for our upcoming couple’s treatment at the spa, too, as we looked forward to a little rejuvenation after several full days of touring the island.
We stayed at another property on Kauaʻi but were drawn to The Spa at Koʻa Kea for its focus on the use of natural, indigenous ingredients in its treatments. The Garden Isle provides the seaweed, pineapple, guava, coconut and a plethora of other botanicals as well as the famous Kauaʻi red clay and red sea salt which inform the scrubs, wraps, facials, and hair and skin treatments on the spa menu. While featuring just five treatment rooms, the spa offers an impressive selection of massages, body treatments and facials, individually or in packages. In addition to the locally sourced, indigenous botanicals of Mālie Organics, the spa highlights Kerstin Florian products as well.
We made our way to the second-floor spa where Brandy, the spa concierge, greeted us and had us fill out the spa paperwork before she introduced us to our therapists, Jenny and Machiko. They escorted us to the couple’s suite, its pale walls, dark wood accents and dim lighting creating a calm ambience. Once Harry and I settled on our tables, neroli oil was placed in an infuser beneath us, offering a light, refreshing, slightly citrusy scent.
We had decided on a Pohaku hot stone massage, as neither of us had ever had one before, and it seemed only fitting here in Hawaiʻi to experience a massage using smooth, heated volcanic stones bathed in tropical nut oils. The spa menu stated this ancient healing treatment would encourage relaxation and wellbeing while melting knotted muscles and increasing circulation.
It proved to be every bit as relaxing and soothing as promised. Jenny began by gently massaging my back with warm oil before settling a row of stones down my spine. The combination of the weight and heat felt so comforting, draining tension from my chronically tight shoulders and neck. I’ve benefited from more intense massages with much firmer pressure in the past, but I found this approach much more in line with my vacation mindset and the island vibe.
As the stones worked their magic, Jenny quietly massaged my arms, hands and calves before removing the stones and having me turn onto my back. (Aside from having to get off the table at the conclusion of a treatment, I’ve always found this the most difficult maneuver, as I’m too relaxed to want to budge!) My feet, legs, shoulders, neck and scalp received more gentle kneading before Jenny softly announced she would be leaving the room, and I could take my time getting up. Harry voiced my own wish after Machiko also left the room: “Can’t I just lie here and take a nap?”
We resisted that urge, but we did take our time getting dressed and making our way back to the reception area. The spa doesn’t offer a lounge area or changing rooms, as most visitors are guests of the resort and can unwind in their rooms. We did appreciate the opportunity to sit by the pool and explore the grounds, including the oceanside spa cabana. As the valet brought our car around, we agreed that a future visit to Kauaʻi would have to include a stay at this peaceful resort and some more rejuvenating pampering in its spa.