You do not have to go far to experience luxury in Honolulu. My day of pampering began with an oceanfront breakfast at House Without a Key. While the restaurant draws tourists and locals alike every night with Hawaiian music and classic hula they also offer an amazing breakfast.
The hostess and servers were very attentive remembering my name, even though I was not a hotel guest. I was seated immediately at a lanai table overlooking the ocean. The breakfast buffet included traditional American breakfast items of sausages, bacon, eggs, pancakes, and an impressive omelet bar. It also included Japanese breakfast items like miso soup, rice, and pickles.
I indulged in smoked salmon and a custom made veggie scramble, fresh squeezed orange juice and coffee. When I returned to my table after visiting the buffet for fresh papaya, the plates on my table were covered with food nets as to not entice the birds. When I sat down, the server came over to remove the nets and asked if I was enjoying my breakfast, again using my name. It was hard to leave, since I was enjoying my seat by the water and my ever-full cup of coffee.
To continue my day of luxury I headed next door to SpaHalekulani. The healing traditions of the Pacific Islands—including Samoa, Tonga and Tahiti— inspire this spa’s authentic treatments, which use only fresh island ingredients, such as coconut, orchid, hibiscus, seaweed and papaya. In addition to traditional Swedish and shiatsu massages, Samoan-inspired nonu, Japanese amma, and Hawaiian lomi lomi, hapai and pohaku massages are offered. Therapists will customize a massage based on your needs and preferences. Facials are individually crafted for specific skin types, and the body scrubs and wraps come complete with a steam shower and a mini massage.
My spa journey began with SpaHalekulani’s signature foot pounding ritual. My feet were wrapped in fragrant, steaming towels, and gently tapped with hand-woven niau sticks made from coconut trees on the Halekulani property. The ritual finished with a light misting, the entire experience leaving my feet invigorated. I was escorted to my private treatment suite, not a large impersonal locker room that is shared with other spa guests.
The spa contains seven guest relaxation suites, including two tandem suites: one featuring a traditional Japanese Furo (bath) and the other, a deluxe shower for two. The suites are fully equipped with regular and/or steam showers, changing areas, personal storage, and luxe personal amenities. I was in one of the tandem suites with the Furo. Sitting on each of the massage tables was a bowl containing a maile (pronounced my-lee) vine, SpaHalekulani’s signature fragrance. I chose the Pohaku massage which included the incorporation of heated stones within a custom massage; the entire experience was 105 minutes.
The massage therapist incorporated lomi lomi, shiatsu, and reflexology within my massage treatment. After the soothing massage, I didn’t have to rush out of the room, but was allowed to gather myself on the table for a few moments and get ready within my own private room. I showered and got ready in the same suite. An attendant waited for me outside my door with iced tea. She led me to the spa’s private terrace surrounded by foliage and a garden courtyard, where I could see Gray’s Beach, known by the Hawaiians for its healing "Kawehewehe" waters.
I was served chocolate mocha ice cream created by the hotel’s pastry chef along with iced tea and bottled Hawaiian water. The serving tray also contained a personal note from my therapist thanking me for coming into the spa and wishing me an enjoyable afternoon tea later that day. I discussed with her briefly what I was going to be doing for the rest of the day, but I thought this was mindless chit chat while she was getting me comfortable. The note was a very nice personal touch and made me want to return very soon.
I headed a few doors down to the Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa to meet my friend Candice for high tea. Often referred to as the "First lady of Waikiki", the legendary landmark introduced the world to Hawaiian hospitality in 1901. High tea is served complete with white-gloved service at the Veranda on the lanai overlooking Waikiki Beach, the Banyan Court, and its historic banyan tree. There is a selection of eight teas, which is then served in your own silver teapot.
I chose the Veranda’s signature blend, the Moana Royal, with hints of papaya and passion fruit, blended with the exotic Poha Berry to create a lively flavor. Candice selected her all time favorite blend, the Veranda Breeze, a soothing blend of black tea, Big Island vanilla and smooth caramel.
We were excited when we saw the gorgeous tiered display of sandwiches and desserts. Our display contained sandwiches of Westphalian ham and tomato, curried turkey salad in a croissant, and smoked salmon, warm scones with real Devonshire cream, and assorted sweets of petit fours, chocolate-glazed cream puffs and creamy fruit tarts.
All the items appeared to be made meticulously and everything was delicious. Our server consistently kept our tea pot full of hot water. Kaffir lime-lemon grass enhanced green tea sorbet was a refreshing finale to the grand experience.
My friend enjoyed her tea so much that we stopped by the hotel gift shop and picked up a few packages of her favorite tea as Christmas gifts to friends and family.
What & Where:
House without a Key located at the Halekulani Hotel (2199 Kalia Rd; 808-923-2311)
Halekulani Hotel (2199 Kalia Rd; 808-923-2311)
Moana Surfrider (2365 Kalakaua Ave; 808-922-3111)
For more information about Oahu check out these great books on Amazon Oahu Revealed: The Ultimate Guide to Honolulu, Waikiki & Beyond, Frommer’s Honolulu & Oahu Day by Day by Frommer’s, and Driving and Discovering Hawaii: Oahu, Honolulu, and Waikiki
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