In early 2014, Montage Resorts opened their latest luxe location in Kapalua, Maui — one of the island’s most coveted areas of real estate. The 24-acre property is nestled between the West Maui mountains and the ocean, and was originally the Ritz-Carlton Club and Residences at Kapalua Bay. The Kapalua Resort area evolved from its agricultural roots with Maui Land and Pineapple Co. Inc. to Hawaiian tourism with the development of the Kapalua Bay Hotel in 1978, the site of the current resort. My family worked and lived on those Maui Land and Pineapple Co. fields, so the history of this place is in my bones, and the splendor of this $15M renovation was not lost on me.
The year after their grand re-opening, Spa Montage Kapalua Bay received the World Luxury Award Continent Winner for “Best Luxury Destination Spa” and was in the top 20 for Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards Best Spas in the United States. Since the Spa at Montage Laguna Beach is one of our favorite spas, we made it a point to spend a day at Kapaula Bay while on vacation.
The Spa sits on five acres of its own in the resort, including 30,000 sq.ft. of indoor space that has 10 treatment rooms and 15,000 sq.ft. of outdoor space that has 10 ocean view “hales.” Overall the facilities are similar in design to Laguna Beach but with a very Hawaiian feel: there are cauldrons filled with lava rocks, a vintage Hawaiian surfboard hanging on the wall outside and local tropical plants filling every available space. Most of the facilities are outdoors: there is a co-ed infinity pool overlooking the grounds (for spa-goers only), and separate clothing-optional saunas, steam rooms, whirlpool hot tubs and cold rain showers for men and women.
The Montage also sits on Kapalua Bay so it is a very short walk through the grounds to the beach, should you want to spend some time there before your treatment. If you are staying in the hotel, beach chairs, towels and umbrellas are complimentary when you show them a room key. If you are a spa-goer, you can rent the beach comfort setup, or lounge the old-fashioned way with your own beach towel or mat. Either way, the beach comfort guys are happy to help you with your time on the beach.
Inside, there are several vanity areas with all the amenities you’d expect from the Montage. One negative thing we have to mention here — and we have to be persnickety about it because it is the Montage and everything has a luxury price tag — is that the showers inside the women’s area are simply not up to par with a luxury spa. A few showerheads were broken and not hanging properly. The water pressure coming from the out-of-date fixtures was pretty weak, and it looks like the tiles are old. It is hard to believe anything about the showers were part of the $15M in renovations.
And while I really do not like picking on spa attendants because I know their job can be tough, I have to mention that I barely saw any spa attendants inside the facilities, and the spa could have been tidier. We practically had the spa to ourselves because it really wasn’t busy that day, but there was trash laying around and some of the amenities desperately needed refilling.
Otherwise, all the facilities at the Montage are so peaceful and set among such beauty that it’s hard not to linger before or after a treatment.
I got the 90-minute Island Rescue, which was billed as a strong, therapeutic massage that targets the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue for relief of muscle pain, stress and tension. I also booked an outdoor hale (Hawaiian for house, pronounced ha-lay) for my massage, because when in Hawaii I like to be outdoors as much as possible, or feel like I am experiencing the outdoors, even if I am at the spa.
The hale was located down on the grounds, and the side facing the ocean was surrounded by tall tropical plants for privacy. During my massage, the french doors on this ocean view side were opened, giving me the full benefit of ocean breezes, local bird songs, and sunlight.
I requested the best massage therapist available, and I got Bo — a gentle giant with big, strong hands and arms, and who knew exactly how to administer deep muscle therapy. Apart from asking me how he could help me and whether or not the pressure was alright, Bo was silent during the entire treatment — this silence was also exactly what I needed for the first massage of my vacation.
The best part about this massage, aside from being in hale, was the way Bo used hot stones. First, I wasn’t expecting hot stones at all so I was surprised (in a good way) when a sudden burst of heat was introduced on my back. But the stone wasn’t applied directly to my back, and that’s what was interesting. He started by warming up one of his hands, while he massaged me with the other. When that hand got good and hot, he put the stone in the other cold hand, then massaged me with the warm hand. It was an amazing feeling, because his hand was hot like a stone but not so hot that it was uncomfortable, as some stones can be. And stones are hard — which can also hurt or be uncomfortable when they run over bone — but of course I got none of that with his hot hands. This is the way all hot stone massages should be, in my opinion. In fact, I think it should be standard practice that massage therapists warm their hands this way before they start massaging clients.
Bo was able to really get to the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue, opening up all the tight areas in my neck, shoulders and back. I left the hale feeling like I had deep muscle therapy without the discomfort of deep tissue work that I normally experience. The massage was fantastic and whoever designed this treatment should be given an award.
Service was what you would expect from a Montage property — prompt, courteous, articulate, friendly and efficient. Everyone was trained to be exceptional at customer service. We were asked about our experience at checkout, and when we mentioned the showers, the young staff front desk staff member was apologetic and promised to let the engineering team know about it right away so it could be addressed.
Maui has its fair share of luxurious award-winning spas but the Montage Kapalua Bay is still quite new on the scene, and seems to be trying hard to win repeat business. It does have the luxury market cornered on the west side of Maui, as they really have no serious competitors within a good 40 miles. (The nearby Ritz-Carlton is nice but it is not as luxe or new as the Montage) It is indeed luxurious, but they haven’t achieved perfection yet. Charging luxury price tags for everything, even down to the bottled Hawaiian rainwater, demands that everything be up to luxury standards. The treatments and facilities at Montage Kapalua bay are exceptional, and the staff are all first-rate. Once they get as persnickety about the details as we are, they will have achieved that level of perfection we’ve come to expect from the Montage.
- Co-ed outdoor pool and jacuzzi for spa-goers only
- Separate outdoor saunas, steam rooms and cold rain showers
- Showers and vanity areas filled with high-end products
- Beach access on Kapalua Bay
$$$$$ = Luxury
The Spa Montage Kapalua Bay is located on the island of Maui in Hawaii.
1 Bay Drive
Lahaina, Hawaii 96761
HOURS OF OPERATION
The spa is open daily from 9:00am to 7:00pm.
HOW TO BOOK AN APPOINTMENT
You can call the spa at (808) 665-8282 or send them an email at email@example.com.