Last Updated on March 27, 2023

Families gather at Disney Resort and Spa Aulani in Ko Olina, Hawai`i, for memory-filled vacations. The 21-acre oceanfront resort does a magnificent job of marrying the Aloha spirit with Disney magic and a whole lot of fun.

But is it possible, I wondered, to find wellness at a family-focused property like the Disney ResortHawai`i Aulani with its endless array of activities?

Wellness travel encompasses a broad spectrum, from those seeking stress reduction and healthy living to deeper cultural experiences. On my 11-person multigenerational trip to the island of Oahu, I hoped to steal a few moments of my own to decompress. Instead, my journey at Disney Resort and Spa Aulani led me to discover the important link between wellness, culture, and nature.

Disney Resort Spa Hawai`i

The spa at Aulani—Laniwai translates to ‘freshwater heaven’ and explores nature through a cultural and spiritual connection to rainbows or ānuenue. Hawaiian folklore identifies rainbows as a path to a heavenly world. Walking through the spa’s hallways filled with soft lavender light and the sounds of flowing water, it was time to begin my journey of relaxation.

On my way to the Disney Resort and Spa Aulani lounge, the spa’s host welcomed me to choose a wish stone (pohaku) from a wooden bowl. Closing my eyes, I selected happiness (hauʻoli), which I carried with me until we stopped at a small pool surrounded by branches of the ohi’a lehua trees. Then, remembering those thoughts of happiness, I returned my stone to the land or Aina, a place filled with other inspiring wishes.

An Oasis at Disney Resort Hawai`i Aulani

Reflexology paths in the hydrotherapy garden.
Reflexology paths in the hydrotherapy garden.

Disney Resort Spa Hawai`I guests are encouraged to spend an hour relaxing in the outdoor hydrotherapy garden named Kula Wai before their scheduled body treatment. The diverse water features and layers of verdant tropical foliage create a serene sanctuary within an already stunning natural environment.

As I sipped my pineapple lemongrass water, I debated which soaking pool to luxuriate in first.

Early Hawaiians believed that fluctuations in water temperature could reset the body’s regulatory system, increase circulation and boost the immune system. I was rejuvenated as I moved from the warm bathwater pool along the reflexology path to the six outdoor rain-style showers of varying pressures.

I even braved the cold-water plunge pool before quickly heading to the bubbling warmer whirlpool tub.

A Healing Touch

Finally, it was time for my Hawaiian lomi lomi massage. The service began with a selection of music options. I could relax to spa or Hawaiian music or the sounds of ocean waves or the rainforest. In addition, my head massage included a choice of dry scalp or argan oil.

Lomi lomi bases its practice on the belief that memories are stored throughout the body, and the use of long, continuous strokes release old behaviors, stresses, and tension replacing them with positive energy. As I listened to soft Hawaiian music, my massage therapist expertly guided me to one very peaceful place.

Beauty and Serenity

The Spa at Aulani.
The Spa at Aulani. Photo by Julie Suman

My experience at the Disney Resort and Spa Aulani instilled a keen awareness of nature. I used that opportunity to find wellness respites throughout the week at the resort.

Our group had traveled from the East Coast, which meant predawn mornings were easier due to the time zone change. I found joy in savoring a cup of Kona coffee on my balcony and listening to the sounds of an island awakening. I cherished the first rays of sunlight that filtered through the palm fronds.

My husband and I also took advantage of the early hours to explore the picturesque Ko Olina area. Oceanfront paths led us to sandy coves, where the waves crashed on the lava rocks.

I could feel the morning’s tranquility as we gazed back across the lagoon to the resort. I still hold dear those wonderful memories.

Wellness Found in the Smallest Moments

Hawaiian culture holds a deep and longstanding respect for nature. Here in Hawai`i, you understand that nature is both sacred and healing.

To me, Hawaiian sunsets epitomize happiness. Gathering with the family to watch the sun wind down the day allowed for reflection and our aspirations for tomorrow.

On this vacation, I not only found ways to relax and decompress, but I discovered much more. That wellness, however you define it, exists in small moments if you stop and reflect on the beauty of nature.

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