A trip to Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina is a special treat but if you’re looking to really unlock a special slice of paradise then you’ll want to book some time for a treatment at the Laniwai Spa. The peaceful respite is nestled amongst the hustle and bustle of Aulani’s Waikelohe Valley offering a few hours of access to the Kula Wai outdoor hydrotherapy garden and inner spa areas.
We visited in December 2021 with Hawaii’s health and safety guidelines in full effect and as of press time, it looks like many of these guidelines are still in place including the requirement to wear face coverings indoors. This also meant that certain indoor amenities (like stream room and sauna) were closed and certain treatments were modified or completely unavailable.
The good news, however, is the Kula Wai outdoor hydrotherapy garden remains completely available. In order to gain access, however, you have to book a full-service treatment ranging from facials to massages.
A Couple’s Massage
We enjoyed the ‘Ōhi’a Lehua “Love Story” for Two which included a tropical exfoliation plus a lomilomi massage with choice of tropical body butter kiss gently massaged into the skin at the end of the treatment. Despite being a massage for two, the two treatments had to be rendered completely separately from each other so we started the experience together before going off to our own separate rooms for an identical treatment. Due to current guidelines, face coverings had to remain on during the treatment.
I was invited to disrobe to my comfort level in private and cover with a towel and then the massage began with a gritty but soothing exfoliation. I was able to rinse off in a private shower in my treatment room before the massage therapist returned to continue the treatment. A weighted heated blanket was wrapped around my body and we proceeded to a scalp massage. From an assortment of options, I chose a pineapple body butter which was massaged onto my skin to finish the 45-minute session. An automatic 20% gratuity is included in the cost of the treatment providing for a smooth ending to the experience where you are welcomed to enjoy the rest of your time in the spa and at the Kula Wai outdoor hydrotherapy garden before finally paying and leaving.
After checking in, you will be given a tour of the spa and ultimately taken to your your assigned locker. Inside, you’ll find pair of rubber flip flops and robe to use while you’re in the spa. There’s also a Laniwai drawstring tote bag (with a disposable hairbrush and some cotton swabs) that you are free to take with you when you leave.
After paying for our couple’s massage, we were given soaking salts as a parting gift. The scent of the soak tied back to our beginning of the experience when we placed a rock into the rock pool.
Kula Wai Outdoor Hydrotherapy Garden
Facemasks are completely optional in this outdoor space that features 5,000-square-feet of gardens and opportunities for pure Zen. Loungers dot the landscape while winding paths set in amongst lush greenery help create a tranquil retreat where hidden speakers play peaceful calming music and nature sounds. The only slightly distracting elements are the balconies of the rooms overlooking the spa area but that is a concern that is easy to forget once you start to unwind with the offerings available.
Some of the features of the garden include soaking pools, waterfall rain showers, whirlpool jet spas and more which you can see below. There’s also a small reflexology walking path that runs across part of the length of the garden which is intended to be a massage-as-you-walk experience.
Upon entering the outdoor Kula Wai, you will find two co-ed soaking pools that are set to two different temperatures. If you’re like us, that’s definitely a his and hers situation (temperature of warm vs lava) where one was warmed to 90° and the other to 100°+.
A chilly cold water therapy plunge pool is set to 40° to help awaken the senses and help prepare your body for pure relaxation.
Nearby, the heated whirlpool with jet spas help warm you back up or you can just soak and enjoy the bubbles. This one runs with a max temperature of 104° but, perhaps because of the heat of the day, it did not seem to be particularly hot.
There are rain-style showers that are activated by magic (proximity sensors) that offer six different types of falling water. The setup feels inherently sort of mystical.
Plenty of opportunities to just lounge. We heard there was a spa cafe that is normally available but was not in operation during our visit.
The Rest of the Spa
If the outdoor garden is just a little too… outdoors… for your liking, there are limited indoor spaces currently also available despite the health and safety guideline-related closures. There is a co-ed lounge area which has access to a mini fridge with some beverages.
There are separate Men’s and Women’s locker rooms with fully stocked showers and vanity areas including shampoo, conditioner, soap, deodorant, mouthwash, hairdryers and more.
There is a small lounge with massaging chaise loungers and a television in both the separate Men’s and Women’s areas of the spa.
Regular spa amenities like Sauna and Stream Room are not currently available which may be deal breakers for avid spa-goers.
The Fitness Center was also not available during our visit.
The Gift Shop
Of course, there’s a gif shop. It wouldn’t be Disney without one.
Check out all of our coverage of Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina.