Color-Light Therapy and More at Ihilani Spa

Color-Light Therapy and More at Ihilani Spa

Color-Light Thalasso Therapy: Tip of the Iceberg at Ihilani Spa

If you've ever been out yonder to West O'ahu, you know three things: It has an entirely different vibe from the rest of the island, it's warmer, and there are considerably less people. West O'ahu has frequently been described as the "a neighbor island experience, without leaving O'ahu".

But unless you're venturing to "the wild west" for an epic surf day, to swim with the dolphins or watch a surf contest at Makaha, you're most likely a resident. Or, someone told you about the grandeur of the JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa. Located on one of 4 man-made lagoons (say what you will, they're perfect for an afternoon float or swimming laps in completely still sea water), the Ihilani blends stellar indoor-outdoor design schematics, with ultra-comfortable and stylish guest rooms, award-winning restaurants like Azul and Ushio-Tei, and one of the island's top-rated golf courses.

Yet what attracts a huge amount of local business at the Ihilani is their stand-alone spa. Its size (enormous yet manageable), decor (Mediterranean meets Hawaiiana) and dedication to the finest details sets it apart from other large-scale resort facilities. Take the Thalasso color-light therapy treatment, which melds a full-body massage with a stimulating soak in Hawaiian sea water, essential oil aromatherapy, and color-light enhancement (practiced by the ancient Egyptians); it should be enough to have you packing up the car and heading west this very minute.

This month, the Ihilani Spa launches a new product line exclusive to the resort. ‘Öhi‘a
‘Ai Mountain Apple make use of the Hawaiian mountain apple, a fruit unique to our island chain (it is believed to have originated in Malaysia and brought over by the first Polynesian settlers in Hawaii). Mountain apple bath salts, lotions, body washes and shampoo were conceived and formulated on Maui by the Island Essence company, and can only be experienced at the Ihilani.

We sat down with the Ihilani's 8-year veteran spa director Robin Desha to suss out who has been taking advantage of the spa, trends in the wellness industry and how many therapists are needed to rub down a 400 lb. linebacker when the ProBowl players are in town every February.

B on Hawaii: In the time that you have been with the Ihilani at Ko'olina, have you seen any significant changes in the clientele, or trends bucking the spa system?

Robin Desha: We definitely see a lot more male clientele. There is also a real trend for couple’s treatments. I think that with the rise of so many types of spas, like Day Spas and Medical Spas, you have to stay true to your concept. Most of the guests here at the resort really want the basics; a good massage and facial in a relaxing atmosphere.

B on Hawaii: What, in your own words, is the primary goal of the Ihilani spa?

Robin Desha: Our goal is to create an experience for our guests. Our Spa Concierges job is to find what results our guests are looking for. It could be relaxing, detoxifying or rejuvenating; they can then book the the guest with a treatment or package that creates that experience, and also gives them results.

B on Hawaii: Do you receive a significant amount of local business, or is it entirely hotel guests

Robin Desha: Ihilani Spa is very popular with Kama’aina. You can book one service and spend the entire day at the spa utilizing the fitness center, lap pool, steam, sauna and Roman pool.

B on Hawaii: Tell us, do the NFL teams take advantage of the spa when they stay during the pro bowl? Any good stories about that time?

Robin Desha: We get a lot of the players. One thing that isn't really common practice during the regular year is that my therapists will look up the weight and size of the players booking appointments, so we can then decide if we need one or two therapist per player.

B on Hawaii: The Ihilani does such a good job at envoking the neighbor island feeling, while still being on O'ahu; how does that translate to the spa experience?

Robin Desha: Once you get on this side of the island and out of the hustle and bustle you feel like you have left the island. A spa treatment is the perfect activity to add to your vacation. It helps to put you in that relaxed state.

B on Hawaii: Tell us about some new things going on at the spa.

Robin Desha: We have recently added the Phytomer skin care and body treatment line to our menu. It is a marine based product and is a perfect fit to our concept “Healing by the Sea”.

B on Hawaii: What is your hand's down favorite treatment at the spa? The most unique?

Robin Desha: Our Thalasso therapy treatment. There are only two Thalasso tubs in the United States, yet it's very popular in Europe. Basically, it is using sea water to heal and replace the trace elements in your system. While it's nothing new to Hawaiians, many of our visitors are unaware of the healing properties that can be ascertained from the ocean. So, we pump in fresh ocean water in to the Thalasso tub, while adding essential oils, and jetted air to ease muscles. It's an amazing precursor to a massage.

B on Hawaii: if you can, tell us what spas around the islands (or the world) you really respect, or had a unique experience at.

Robin Desha: The Mauna Lani spa on the Big Island. I think they have done a great job staying true to their Hawaiian concept, especially with their use of several indigenous treatments.

For more information on the Ihilani Resort & Spa, log on to, or call the spa directly at (808) 679-0079.

"Basically, [Thalasso therapy] is using sea water to heal and replace the trace elements in your system." –Desha