Hotel report: The Kohala Spa at the Hilton Waikoloa Village

The sad-looking nene goose I visited with right before heading to the Kohala Spa. What the heck is the Hilton doing with a nene goose? Aren't they endangered!?

The Kohala Spa was teeming with Big Island residents on staycations when I first entered early in the day. It turned out Hilton Gold status granted me free access to the spa facilities and the fitness room. Hotel guests ordinarily have to pay $20 for access and non-hotel guests, $25. I decided to get a 50-minute lomi lomi massage although I generally associate the term with the tasty salmon dish. (I love lomi lomi salmon! Yum! Sadly, there no salmon came with my massage.) There was a 15% kama’aina discount on the $145 price tag, which still wasn’t cheap, but there wasn’t much else to do and it had been years since my last massage, thus the massive knot in my back I usually refer to as my “Greek shoulder” (it gets exceedingly painful when I’m translating Greek for some reason. Homeric Greek makes it especially bad. Don’t even get me started on Pindar.). Sort of like tennis elbow, but more insidious.

reception area of the Kohala Spa

The citrus and vanilla infused water readily available in the gender-segregated spa areas was quite delightful and I helped myself to a lot of it. Chris, my masseur, came to fetch me from the waiting area and led me into a private room. He had me oiled up with kukui nut oil like a New Years Day hog within moments (I’m not entirely sure what that means either but I like the sound of it). I instructed him to apply as much pressure as he could possibly muster. My Chinese logic tells me that the more pressure I receive, the more I am getting my money’s worth.

It was a pretty awesome massage and although Greek shoulder still continues to irk me, I wasn’t expecting to completely eliminate it anyway. It is really very insidious. I was asleep by the end of the massage.

Afterwards, I whiled away several hours in the women’s spa area, which had a sauna, steam room, rainfall showers and an outdoor jacuzzi that was artfully hidden from the rest of the world by high walls and palm trees. I took like four showers. I was also thrilled to find a basket of free plastic shower caps by the row of shower rooms (ARGH! My Chinese is showing).

Everything smelled appropriately spa-like and lovely: the steam in the steam room, the self-branded toiletries that spurted happily out of large dispensers in the shower rooms, the fluffy, white towels.

An hour before the 7pm closing, I had almost the entire spa to myself. Everything was peaceful and perfect. Except for the old naked lady who kept wandering around. She eventually settled herself in the outdoor hot tub, where I was longing to settle myself.

What is the etiquette in this situation?

Once, in a hotel in Munich, a naked guy eased himself into a tiny sauna that was populated only by myself and my friend. We left. It was too European for us.

But the old naked lady didn’t seem European enough for me to be able to join her nonchalantly in the not terribly large hot tub. I wandered between the sauna and the steam room like a hungry ghost for a bit.

At one point, I squeezed my eyes closed and slipped into the hot tub for a moment, pretending that I was just, uh, relaxing with my eyes closed.

It wasn’t all that relaxing, so I scampered off and took another shower.


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