The energy in Hawaii is so palpable that it's like you almost can hold the weight of its collective spirit in your hands. It's important to look beyond the modernization of the Islands and seek out the lingering legacy of an incredible culture, fascinating ecosystem and ancient rituals. Two of my three latest experiences in Hawaii have been with the Ritz Carlton Group and I just so deeply respect their commitment to honoring the culture and the people. I always come back just completely enlightened. I meet fascinating people who are partners with the hotel in order to make sure the guests understand what makes Hawaii so special.
This trip I was fortunate enough to spend time at the new Ritz Carlton Residences- Waikiki Beach to experience their wellness package. At first, I wasn't sure if Waikiki and the Honolulu area were zen enough with the big city feel but honestly I was shocked to see the growth and the energy. I think you'll be hearing a lot about Waikiki in the next year or so as having a bit of a cultural renaissance. Interesting creatives are moving there sprouting up ideas and it sort of reminded me of what New Orleans was like 5 years ago. A lot of creative energy is moving through there and the demand for ingenuity and the longstanding cultural commitment to nature in Hawaii makes it one to watch as a wellness destination. The Ritz Carlton Residences- Waikiki Beach is leading the pack here in what was one of my most favorite travel memories to date. Here's a breakdown of what their wellness experience that I experienced offers:
- Three nights in the Grand Four Bedroom, Ocean View Suite for up to four guests
- Guided Huaka‘i (Excursion) to Mānoa Valley, from which the spa derives fresh ingredients for its treatments
- Trio of daily signature island spa treatments: Ho‘omalu (A Sense of Peace), Huki Huki (Renew) and Mānoa Mist (Revitalize)
- Nightly turndown service featuring a distinct Hawaiian Rainforest Naturals flower essence each night as a keepsake
- Journal given at beginning of trip to reflect throughout the experience (love this!)
- Private chef for exclusive in-residence dinner during one of the three nights
- Private one-hour yoga or fitness class in the yoga studio
- Custom-stocked kitchen with fresh ingredients and custom recipes to make nourishing food in-residence
- Roundtrip luxury airport transfer
Of course I took some photos along the way to document the experience because I'm obsessed.
Manoa Valley & Hawaiian Rainforest Naturals Excursion
One of the greatest things to do in Hawaii is walk the rainforest in silence. Listen to the sounds. Be aware of the subtle natural nuances around you. The Ritz created its spa with the help of the beautiful Hawaiian Rainforest Naturals. The owners, Melia Goodenow and her mother, have cultivated an incredible business producing natural Hawaiian flower essences, hand cultivated and sourced by hand, through ritual. The spa incorporates the rituals and the natural beauty that makes this region so special, allowing the guest to experience a spiritual treatment along with the physical. Melia flew in from the Big Island to spend the morning with us, leading us through an authentic experience from rainforest to treatment table. I asked her a million questions and she spent our hike giving us little nuggets of wisdom. Her energy is incredible. Very intuitive. Spritually beautiful. The Manoa Valley is incredibly sacred and I gather that most people overlook it when they land in Honolulu. It's a treasure and so easily accessible.
Back in the day land would be divided from mountain top and water source all the way down to the ocean and everyone would get a slice. So this pilgrimage up into the rainforest was a sacred one and water was, and still is, a special force. I didn't photograph the ceremony but here's an insight into what we experienced (it was magic!).
5 drops of flower essence under the tongue. Let it linger until it dissolves then swallow.
Silence. No phones, no cameras (I barely got these photos off!) Melia wanted us to listen to our intuition and quite literally trust our gut. Think with our senses. This is how they source for flowers for their essences. It has to call out to you and permission to pick must be granted.
An offering: Ti leaf (spiritual, glossy leaf used for ceremonies & medicinally), a leaf similar to Kava to aid in relaxation, and yellow ginger. Melia chanted in Hawaiian by a stream along the trail and called out to the rain and water. She left the bundle as an offering. When we got back on the trail the Manoa Mist came over the mountain top and soaked us with rain.
Back at the spa I had the Huki Huki Renew treatment where I was covered in mud and wrapped in the Ti leaf. It was amazing to experience the spiritual side from ceremony to treatment!
Yoga & Dining
The balance of masculine and feminine is a common theme in Hawaii. Our private teacher led us through 1.5hr beautiful sequence followed by a foot massage (!) and explained that yoga is for his feminine side to balance his other job in IT. Everything is about balance here. After the long flight this was like heaven. I also woke up early to practice by the pool before anyone else. I just love those moments of solitude!
I'm obsessed with the floors of the BLT Market and we also had an amazing Chef come to one of the suites during sunset for a delicious, healthy meal. Pretty incredible!
So much gorgeousness! The whole experience was so unique. What made it so extra special was the link and connection to the land. It's a way to have a personal journey with the comforts of luxury amenities within a big city on a spiritual island. The hotel is unique because it's actually residences that you can rent out like a hotel. You get a washer and dryer and kitchen in your room. It's a great jumping off point for hikes and beautiful beaches. There's so much to explore in Oahu! Put it on your wellness radar and if you have time, take an Uber to a little food truck called Banan. You won't regret it! Mahalo!