Into the Deep

A massage with bare feet? You read that right. While seemingly bizarre—and for some, slightly disturbing—the massage aux pieds has become my puissant treatment of choice.

Recently, I had the pleasure of sampling out SpaHalekulani’s deep treatment, the luxurious Ho‘olele Signature Massage, which à la Halekulani, was in a class of its own.

Traditional deep tissue can be a painful endeavor, yet this “recommended for strong-pressure lovers” rubdown is extremely soothing. A Polynesian treatment beloved by the islanders for generations, kukui nut oil and aromas of radiant orchid and rich maile lei—SpaHalekulani’s signature scent—enchant all those who enter Halekulani’s healing oasis.

A character from the spa’s From the Pacific assemblage, the Ho‘olele soothes and relaxes the body using deep, long strokes of, believe it or not, your therapist’s bare feet.

Here’s the lowdown: The masseuse first takes you to the outdoor lanai for a foot massage, consultation and refreshments. Next, you’re transported to dream world in the treatment room as you lay down to experience the heavenly Ho‘olele.

Your therapist then bathes her feet in water adorned with colorful Hawaiian hibiscus before gracefully making her way over the treatment table, where she will hold on to bars affixed to the ceiling for balance, to stroke your back with gentle, yet forceful movements to relieve any office-induced ailment. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself dozing off mid deep stroke!

Ho‘olele fittingly means, “the process of traveling with the feet” in Hawaiian. Gradual, penetrating motions massage the head, neck, shoulders, back and full body in a rhythmic dance resembling hula.

Tension relived, green tea mochi ice cream and a tropical tea après treatment on the outdoor patio only enhance the experience.

To learn more about Ho‘olele and SpaHalekulani, visit

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