Hawaiian Salt Baths at the Grand Wailea

It’s not easy to relax.  Even in “The Best Spa in the World” according to Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers Choice Award, 2009 (its 15th year to earn this award.) My problem is once I find myself in a steam room with no cell phone or computer in front of me, I panic. 

However, during a recent early morning visit to the Grand Wailea’s Spa Grande, my frenetic spell was broken. For me, the Hawaiian Salt Baths, five different colored baths each representing an island and an emotional or physical maladie to conquer was exactly what a ‘goal oriented’ relaxer like myself needs. I’d been to these baths a few years ago, on a very busy day and couldn’t get past the other women in the same water. It turns out the salt works as an anti-microbial agent and the staff scrubs the tubs at the end of each day, so my anxiety about getting a disease from shared water is unfounded (I looked into it). Another cool thing about salt in the water is makes you float better, adding to the ‘relaxation’ part of the sap. And having the first appointment of the morning was nice, I felt like I had the entire 50,000 square foot Grecian fantasyland to myself. 

I started in the black tub, labeled for The Big Island. The Hawai’i salt is a blend of Kilauea black sea salt, organic kava powder, activated charcoal powder, vanilla extract, essential oils of rosewood, cinnamon clove, petitgrain, lavendar and vanilla orchids. The key benefits of activated charcol is said to relieve sunburn, increase circulation and detoxify the body.  All things I meditated on intensely as I floated.

Then to the incredibly bright blue Maui bath made with a mixture of Wailea white sea salt and nui coconut oil blended with essential oils of eucalyptus, rosemary and Ylang Ylang. Key benefits of this blend is to the stimulate the immune system, to help oxygenate and hydrate the skin and to alleviate mental exhaustion as it calms nervous tension. I closed my eyes during this floatation and reinacted the 1980 movie Altered States. My mind left my body, travelled into my past, worked ‘stuff’ out. At some point, it eased back home, and I became aware of the 80 degree water and far away sounds of footsteps on the marble floor. This one spooked me. 

Then to the rose colored Lana’i bath, a blend of crystal pink sea salt, which contains red ala’ea volcanic clay; pineapple extract, organic green papaya powder, essential lemongrass, mandarin and orange oil. The key benefits here rely on the protein-dissolving plant enzymes in papaya and pineapple that help to exfoliate and strengthen the skin. It is also supposed to help increase circulation. I needed a lighter meditation focus after my Maui bath experience -so I decided to not close my eyes, but I did float.

Between each bath, I followed the cleansing protocol of going into a multi-spouted shower (water shoots from the ceiling and the walls), then sitting under a pounding stream of fresh warm water. This served to not only clean my body of remanent salt, but also prepare my mind for the next dip. 

For my penultimate soak, I chose my birthplace, the Oahu bath, which contains a blend of bamboo green sea salt, Hawaii spirulina and organic seaweed powder. The key benefits here are to help tighten the skin, reduce the appearance of cellulite and relieve fluid retention – let’s call this one the beauty bath. I lingered here, mentally coersing my skin cells to fall in line. 

And finally, the Kauai bath which was for some reason the warmest. Kauai is based on lava red sea salt bonded with the famous red clay of Kauai (you’ve seen the Red Dirt Shirts) , then infused with organic vitamin-rich passion flower powder.  This blend helps to soothe and regenerate cells which in turn alleviates anxiety and tension. The ideal ending to the very relaxing and rejuvinating Hawaiian Salt experience.  

Mimi Towle

Mimi Towle has been the editor of Marin Magazine for over a decade. She lived with her family in Sycamore Park and Strawberry and thoroughly enjoyed raising two daughters in the mayhem of Marin’s youth sports; soccer, swim, volleyball, ballet, hip hop, gymnastics and many many hours spent at Miwok Stables. Her community involvements include volunteering at her daughter’s schools, coaching soccer and volleyball (glorified snack mom), being on the board of both Richardson Bay Audubon Center. Currently residing on a floating home in Sausalito, she enjoys all water activity, including learning how to steer a 6-person canoe for the Tamalpais Outrigger Canoe Club. Born and raised in Hawaii, her fondness for the islands has on occasion made its way into the pages of the magazine.