I confess. I'm a massage-aholic. And even though my husband, Brent, supports this pampering addiction, a spa holiday is the last thing on his bucket list. But during this trip to Hawaii Island, where huna (harmony) and mana (spirit) are embraced, he eventually does an about face (and body) and becomes a lover of the 'lomilomi.'
Chi-chi resorts pepper the sun-drenched Kohala's Coast, one of which is The Fairmont Orchid, a 32-acre refuge that promises relaxation and renewal.
"Ready for side-by-side sublime time," I suggest, when checking out the Spa Without Walls options.
Garden pathways trail just beyond the open-air lobby and dotting the way are massage huts and oceanfront cabanas.
Though my spa-skeptic mate has other plans, he redeems himself by upgrading our reservation to a Fairmont Gold. I accept his cop-out. Billed as 'a hotel within a hotel,' the devoted floor is like a sanctuary - posh rooms, private lounge, sweet service.
The Orchid Beach Boys also churn up some action over our stay. Their grass shoreline shack brims over with floatables and we try everything from kayaking the ocean crests to snorkeling beneath them.
"What about that paired paradise?" I pose, on our final Fairmont day. Brent just gives me a wink. "While you're reveling in present-day pleasures, I'll be escaping to the past."
As well as being the birthplace of King Kamehameha I, who united the Hawaiian Islands, there are nearby ancient burial sites and world-renown petroglyphs.
So Brent heads out on his well-worn treasure trail and I discover a different kind of gem. Her name is Charlene, a copper-toned beauty with fingers and forearms that know how to revive! She slathers and unravels my pent-up muscles and while a nearby waterfall plays nature's lullaby, I drift into a euphoric state. It's a grand Fairmont finale and a definite favourite on my vacationing bucket list.
The city of Hilo has its haute hotels, but instead, we book into Kipuka Cottage, a private jungle oasis that's just minutes from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
"Hey, it's spa-less!" Brent teases, as we pull into the wooded driveway. I remain quiet. Yes, there's no distracting TV or a soul in sight. I can't think of a better getaway to coerce him into the world of massage.
And after recently getting a few tips from Dane Silva, a local modalities guru on the ancient art of lomilomi, I'm pretty sure this place will do the trick.
"Surround yourself with nature," he had encouraged. "Plants help restore." We couldn't get much closer to Mother Earth than Kipuka. Her gifts are shared from every windowed wall.
"Spiritual belief comes from within," he had continued. "Empowered people pass on this energy through the lomilomi touch."
Although it's been a while since I've pampered my man, I'm feeling pretty motivated to give him the royal treatment. And over the next two days, between checking out Crater Rim Drive and Halema'uma'u Crater, that's exactly what I do. By the time we leave, I'm sure Brent is re-prioritizing his bucket list.
Although there's no sun-bathing beachfront at this next posh spot, The Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa makes up for it.
A courtyard pool, fed by cascading waterfalls, flows into an aquatic wonderland where kids of all ages play.
Tennis, basketball and golf are a short stroll away, as are eateries for every taste bud.
We re-energize at Sliders, watch nature's nightly show at the Manta Ray Bar and Grill, and dine on award-winning entrees at the ocean-viewing Kai Restaurant.
And when it's time for the full meal pampering deal, the Sheraton doesn't disappoint.
Hugging up to this heavenly haven is the oceanfront Ho'ola Spa. Travertine floors trail to treatment rooms and a Pacific-viewing venue that transcends the basic manicure and pedicure.
But the ultimate treat waits just beyond these blissful confines. Cantilevering the lava shoreline and open to the balmy sea breeze are three alluring lanais.
"Now I'm ready for that partnership pleasure!" Brent says, with a chuckle, after discovering these sanctuaries. I can't believe he's going to concede.
My suave massage technique must have done the trick!
I soon discover it holds no competition to
Bradley's, nor (Brent informs) Melissa's. Like a pair of well-versed musicians, the therapists work in synchronicity, side by side, personalizing the lomilomi massage to meet our individual needs.
And over the next hour as the waves roll in we BOTH succumb to Utopian joys and a little more huna and mana.
Travel Writers' Tales is an independent travel article syndicate that offers professionally written travel articles to newspaper editors and publishers. To check out more, visit www.travelwriterstales.com
IF YOU GO:
? The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii:
? Kipuka Cottage: kipuka-cottage@ hawaiiantel.net;
? Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa;
? For more information: www.gohawaii. com/big-island.