To be honest, it always seemed a little odd.
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By Laurie Drake
Getting in sync with its surroundings meant that the Kapalua resort's overhaul wasn't just a redo but an undo. Gone are the European oil paintings, the tufted sofas in burgundy brocade, and the roaring fireplace in the Library lounge (now a light, bright, and dynamite sushi restaurant called Kai). Gone are the pantyhose on the female staffers, who may bare their legs as long as they wear close-toed shoes. (This is still a Ritz-Carlton, after all.)
Also gone is the cookie-cutter spa. The new one has a subtle rain-forest theme, lots of places to lounge and soak, and a handful of open-air massage rooms with outdoor showers—a simple yet glorious amenity. And it has more soul than you'd expect for a 463-room resort (even for one that admits spa-goers as young as 5). That's because local healers contributed to the spa concept and design, trained the massage staff, and continue to serve as its cultural and spiritual stewards. That's a fit for the 23,300-acre Kapalua area, known for its ancestral Hawaiian spiritualism, as well as its tourist draws: a gorgeous secluded beach and golf courses.