The Lumeria is located in a secluded and quiet part of Maui’s North Shore, in between the towns of Paia and Makawao. It is very much off the beaten path, and driving there you wonder if you are going the right way and if you will ever get there. My bestie Spa Pro and I visited the Lumeria Maui while on a girls’ trip to Maui. The Oprah Magazine has given away trips to Lumeria and I heard that Oprah’s staffers stay there when she is on the island at her upcountry farm, so we wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
The hotel certainly has good branding and PR, and its backstory is also compelling. As the oldest wooden structure on Maui, it was initially designed to house aging plantation laborers who dedicated much of their lives to cultivating the sugarcane fields, but was also used during WW2 for military housing and as a dorm for the nearby Maunaolu Women’s College in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Designers of Lumeria wanted to honor the history of the property and buildings, while also implementing “aspirational” design. In keeping with the traditions of Hawaiian culture, Mauian Kahuna (shamans) offered blessings of the property prior to the opening of Lumeria Maui retreat.
The Lumeria has an old-soul feel with somehow a brand new look. Beautiful tropical flowers surround Buddha statues on the grounds, the landscaping is lush yet clean and Zen. We didn’t stay at the hotel so we can’t speak as to how the rooms or the hotel service was, but we did spend the afternoon at the spa and the pool on a quiet day mid-week.
The Crystal Spa is located in one of small the wooden structures, on the back corner of the property behind the hotel building. The spa’s reception area is reminiscent of an old Hawaiian office belonging to the landed gentry, much like the King family’s compound in the movie The Descendents. After you check in, you’re ushered to another building nearby that has a very small change room, another small room with the infrared sauna, and a tiny relaxation area. The infrared sauna can fit two people in it, though you’d better be comfortable with the person that’s in there with you. You have to reserve it for this reason, and you wouldn’t normally use the sauna with someone else unless you book it that way beforehand.
There is a pool on the property, but it’s for all hotel guests, and it’s way on the other side of the property, near the front of the hotel. On the day we went, there were only a couple of other people there, but the pool itself didn’t look very inviting. There were no towels, no water, no amenities of any kind at the pool. The area seemed like an afterthought — something highly unusual for a hotel property in Maui. Especially one that’s associated in some way with Oprah Winfrey.
There isn’t much in the way of spacious relaxation areas at the spa itself. This is alright for hotel guests who have their rooms and other places to lounge around the property, but if you are only visiting the spa it’s not ideal. There are very few places to just sit down and decompress before or after a treatment.
As everything is in an ancient wood beach house-like structure, the treatment rooms are very basic, and very local Hawaii. Don’t expect a fancy hotel spa with Vichy showers, or even a shower in the same room. When I had to rinse off my scrub, the therapist had to open the door and go to the small bathroom across the hall first to make sure no one was using it or around before I went in.
My first treatment was a Lomilomi massage (90 minutes, $195). I was in search of an authentic treatment, being in Hawaii and all, and was hoping that the Lumeria would deliver.
Traditional Lomilomi practitioners use the palms, forearms, fingers, knuckles, elbows, knees, feet, even sticks and stones. It may be performed with or without oil or lotion. Lomilomi practices varied by family, traditional region and island. Traditional Lomilomi always includes work with the gastrointestinal area since the word for colon in Hawaiian is “Na’au”, which also means a person’s soul or heart. Hawaiian Lomilomi also covers cultural and philosophical practices such as essence of Hawaiian culture, conflict resolution, physical and emotional cleansing.
Authentic traditional Hawaiian Lomilomi is conducted with prayer and intention and requires years of study and practice. As this is an ancient Hawaiian practice, elders refuse to be regulated by the state or tested under Western medical standards, and as such, will not usually practice in modern spas.
My therapist for the day was Jenny, a young haole hippy-type, with lots of long flowy hair and stoney peace and love vibes. She definitely knew her stuff though, and even gave me the low-down on several different and lesser-known types of body therapies that integrate spiritual practice with bodywork.
At one point she began chanting in Hawaiian. I wasn’t expecting this, so I was a little surprised. I thought at one point she would switch it to English so that I would at least understand what she was saying, but nope, she continued on with her prayer-chant in full Hawaiian. The spa’s menu now states (I don’t think it did at the time of our visit), “The ancient healing technique of the Hawaiian Kahunas combines body work, mantra, scent, flowers and prayer to balance the self on all levels: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.” I haven’t experienced prayer or mantra chanting at any other spa while getting a lomilomi, so if you visit the Lumeria, you should be aware this might be something you’ll experience during your treatment.
I didn’t mind the chanting, in fact I was impressed that she could recite that amount of Hawaiian. I’m not sure it had the intended spiritual or emotional effect, though I did come out of the lomilomi very relaxed and blissed.
Spa Pro’s lomilomi was kind of a different story. While her therapist seemed very capable and strong, and delivered a decent massage, her appearance and hygiene was extremely unprofessional. Things can get casual in rural areas of Hawaii, this was a little too casual — when this older therapist showed up, she seemed unshowered, didn’t smell that great and her hair was greasy and messy. She wore an old ratty t-shirt whose arm holes were so big that you could see her bra underneath, and it wasn’t like it was a showstopper bra, if you know what I mean. Her nails were also a bit too long for a client to be comfortable during bodywork, and this affected Spa Pro’s overall satisfaction with her treatment. When I told her about my lomilomi with all the chanting and stuff, she seemed a bit bummed that she didn’t have a similar experience and kind of felt cheated.
The second treatment I received was the Chocolate Goddess Massage, now called the Chocolate Indulgence Massage (90 minutes, $245). The description sure sounded yummy:
“Indulge in a sensory journey of local ingredients. Melt away with a warm chocolate massage while easing muscle tension and stress. Followed by an invigorating body polish made with chocolate, coffee, and Hawaiian Sandalwood Oil to detoxify and exfoliate, revealing firmer more vibrant skin. Each treatment includes a ZenZiva chocolate body scrub and a raw organic chocolate treat.”
Hawaiian coffee and chocolate? Sure, sign me up. The scrub took place in the same room where I received my lomilomi, and by the same therapist. It’s a no-frills kind of place, so it was very much like being in a local’s home. The bed was warm and comfortable, the open plantation shutters provided a breeze from the tradewinds, the restored wood floors were creaky and the small bathroom was across the hall.
The massage used some kind of chocolate-based or chocolate-scented oil, which smelled nice and made me hungry. The massage itself was a standard relaxation massage, and the therapist was good at focusing on some trouble spots brought on by flying and sleeping in hotel beds.
The scrub was vigorous enough to exfoliate but it wasn’t harsh. It was a good thing I wasn’t sunburned though — this might be too much for sunburned skin. The best part about it was that it smelled delicious. I mentioned earlier that since this is a no-frills hippy kind of place, I had to get up off the table to rinse off the scrub, and the therapist had to make sure no one was around or using the bathroom beforehand. The bathroom was close by, but it was across the hall, and that is not the greatest in terms of a seamless experience.
My skin glowed afterwards and the scent left behind was a nice combo of coffee, chocolate and Sandalwood. I really enjoyed getting a piece of chocolate at the end — I love it when spas finish with little details like that.
Service at the front desk was slow to start, as it didn’t seem like there were many people working that day, but once we got into the check-in process, the front desk person was super friendly and efficient. On check out, it was a little slow again, but that sort of thing is kind of to be expected in Hawaii at a place as small as this, and one that’s not corporate.
My therapist’s service was excellent. She always made sure I was comfortable and that her pressure was alright for me. She was very friendly and kind, and embodied the spirit of aloha. Spa Pro’s therapist lowered our overall service score because of her unprofessional appearance and hygiene. We expect that when we give our bodies over to someone for health and healing, that they too will treat their own bodies with respect and care, and show up to work in their healing profession with the utmost professionalism and cleanliness.
If you are staying at the Lumeria, or even in Paia or Makawao, this spa is a great option for a few hours of rest/relaxation/recuperation. If you are not staying at the hotel or in the area, it’s very out of the way and there are spas with better (more) facilities for you to unwind at, closer to where you’re staying. The facilities at Lumeria leave a lot to be desired, and the price tag is too high for just the treatments themselves — there ought to be more to enjoy at this level of pricing.
- Infrared sauna
- Outdoor treatment areas
$$$$ = Pricey
The Crystal Spa is located on the grounds of the Lumeria Maui hotel, on the island of Maui in Hawaii.
1813 Baldwin Avenue
Makawao, Hawaii, 96768
HOURS OF OPERATION
The spa says their hours are generally 8am to 8pm seven days a week, but as they rely on contracted therapists, the schedule may vary depending on availability.
HOW TO BOOK AN APPOINTMENT
You can call the spa at 1(808) 579-8877 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org to book a spa appointment.