Disney's Laniwai Spa and Painted Sky:
A Dream Escape for kids, teens 

By Kimberly Horg

In between the green lush mountains of Hawaii and the scenic ocean, lies Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa on the island of Oahu. Within the resort is a hidden gem for guests of all ages. Laniwai, (meaning freshwater heaven) spa encompasses 18,000 square feet to give guests the ultimate spa experience. The Kula Wai area is an added bonus, so before or after a service, one can enjoy the day in a one-of-a-kind 5,000-square-foot outdoor hydrotherapy garden with herbal pools, six unique “rain showers, hot and cold whirlpools, and outdoor relaxation areas. 

Laniwai has 15 treatment rooms including The Ohana, a private suite with a separate family entrance designed for three to six family members so the entire gang can get a massage. This therapy uses the healing touches of lomilomi for ages 5 and up.  It also has massages for men, couples, and new and expectant mothers. The Makana is a soothing massage for parents and their infants, one-year-old and under. It gives one parent the chance to enjoy a massage while the other learns skills for infant massage from a certified practitioner. Family treatments start at $155 for mom, dad and baby and couples massages are the same per person. Couples have the chance to unwind together as well while the little ones play under the supervision of Disney Youth Counselors at Aunty’s Beach House (complimentary to Aulani Resort guests).

There are pre- and post-natal massages; namely the Yummy Tummy. This body treatment stimulates cell regeneration to help prevent stretch marks on the belly with gentle touches to the face, head, shoulders and neck to ease pregnancy tension for $215 for 80 minutes of pure joy.

Over at the spa's Pulu Bar, visitors can create a personalized body polish at the spa’s Pulu Bar, an outdoor mixology station. Pulu means “to make soft, soak, and moisten” so spa guests can make a luscious scrub from natural ingredients found on the islands to exfoliate with and enjoy the native scents. 

Spa treats for the whole family are served including herbal Mamaki tea paired with mini zucchini carrot muffins topped with a macaroon and antioxidant guava fruits. “There is something for everyone,” notes Maureen Barrett, Disney Destinations director of public relations.

She says every member of the family can enjoy a treatment with the separate spa for teenagers. Painted Sky offers age-specific spa treatments and activities starting at $30 and up. It is designed for ages 13 to 17, featuring a variety of amenities, a lounge, computer stations, teen-only events for day and night, DIY mixology bar for body polishes and face masks as well as teen-oriented massages and facials for $75, manicures and pedicures priced at $35 and make up as wel as a makeup consultant or "minnie me" hairstyle for $35.Teens can walk through a private entrance to relax with other teens and make new friends.

“Most spas don’t have a separate area for teenagers,” indicates Lucia Amasio, Laniwai Spa Director. “When it was designed, we wanted it to be interactive so teenagers had their own space.” According to Amasio, teens want to be with others their own age, so Painted Sky is a great addition to the resort. Teens want to go somewhere without mom and dad so this allows them a unique and safe environment where they have the freedom to come and go as they please.

Before it started, the spa the staff worked with teen counselors to study behaviors so they could make it a place teens could call home. Teenagers care about what they look like in addition to wanting freedom, so it has the best of both worlds. It is also off the main drag, so Painted Sky feels like its own sanctuary. 

Booking in advance is always recommended. “We are touching on all the population,” says Amasio. “This is a healing environment which helps the spirit, and Painted Sky is an important component.”

Amasio adds that staff is skilled in various massage techniques, each with an intent and purpose. She believes each therapist’s personality is different which brings a lot to the table. At the end of the day, says Amasio, all members work together and pitch in to provide a pleasant top quality experience. “There is a big collaboration, we are all working together and part of a family here.”

Aulani was voted this year’s “Top Hotel for Families in the United States” by the readers of Travel + Leisure. The luxury family retreat offers a relaxing Hawaiian experience for young and old alike. With more than 150 treatments, the spa has a variety of options to fit all needs. Both Laniwai and Painted Sky feature interior and exterior design that highlights the cultural and spiritual significance of ‘anuenue’ or rainbows, by mixing reflected light, color and water.


Disney Resorts:  (866) 443-4763 or www.disney.go.com/aulani-hawaii-resort/.

Kimberly Horg is a freelance writer. This is her first article for BAFT.

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