The Great Escape

Bring the luxury of a spa experience home.


Story by Sarah Rupenthal | Photography by Nina Kuna

home spaWhether you are drafting blueprints for a new home or planning a remodel, replicating the soothing atmosphere of a day spa can be a simple (not to mention blissful) endeavor, says award-winning spa designer Sylvia Sepielli, the visionary behind the serenely sensual Kapalua Spa.

Residential spas are an increasingly popular trend, says Sepielli, and for good reason. “So many people are on sensory overload these days.”

The idea of creating a spa in your own home may sound as far-fetched as installing a helipad on the roof, but Sepielli assures that it is possible to reproduce a near-professional spa experience on any kind of budget. She should know. With more than twenty years of experience, Sepielli is a master at creating spaces that capture the calming, healing essence of a luxury spa. What you need, she says, is a few basic elements.

Of these, the most essential costs nothing, yet is priceless. “The spa experience really centers on one common theme—quiet,” says Sepielli. “Clear one quiet spot and make it your own.” The bathroom may be the best space, but any room in the house can be transformed into a sanctuary.

Once you’ve found your comfort zone, Sepielli recommends choosing a theme. For the Kapalua Spa, she took inspiration from the natural surroundings. “My design embraced mauka to makai [“from mountain to sea”] for the visual and experiential aspects of the spa.”

She suggests outfitting your space with therapeutic elements such as aromatherapy candles, bath salts, essential oils and soothing music, as well as upgrading linens. “Choosing the right bedding, pillows and towels is one way to make a home feel more spa-like.”

For a really relaxing touch, invest in your own massage table—and a licensed massage therapist to go with it. (Yes, they make house calls.)


Of course, for some spa treatments you’ll need to add water. If your bathroom is less than inviting, give it a treatment of its own. Sepielli suggests swapping out standard ceramic tile for natural materials such as pebble-stone tiles, bamboo or natural stone features, and painting or furnishing the room in earth tones. Natural light is best, but if windows aren’t an option, installing a dimmer switch is a practical and inexpensive way to create a calming ambience. “If you can match your space to the natural environment, it will be both timeless and soothing,” she explains.

Because water is the central feature of any home spa, it’s important to pick the right appliances and fixtures for a complete hydrotherapy experience. “Consider installing a Jacuzzi tub with whirlpool jets,” says Sepielli. If you’re willing to give your bathroom an overhaul, upgrade to a walk-in shower with a bench and waterfall showerhead.

And if budget is really no obstacle, Sepielli says homeowners can—and often do—go the extra mile, commissioning a swimming pool, hot tub, sauna, meditation studio or private yoga pavilion to immerse themselves in a complete (and customized) mind-and-body experience.

Whether it’s a few subtle changes or a major overhaul, a home spa of any shape or size will guarantee one very precious commodity: escape.

And when it comes to great escapes, there’s really no place like home.

Where to Buy

  • Aromatherapy candles, bath salts, essential oils Green Ti Boutique | 40 N. Market St., Wailuku | 242-8788 |
  • Home massage tables Maui School of Therapeutic Massage | 1045 Makawao Ave., Makawao | 572-2277 |
  • Jacuzzi bathtubs, home saunas Home Depot | 100 Pakaula St., Kahului | 893-7800 |
  • Linens & towels Macy’s | Queen Kaahumanu Center, 275 Ka‘ahumanu Ave., Kahului | 877-3361
  • Natural stone & tile Exclusively Yours/Ceramic Tile Plus | 25 S. Kahului Beach Rd., Kahului | 871-8674 |
  • wood accents & cabinetry Maui Custom Woodworks | 251 Lalo St., Kahului | 877-0239 |
  • Outdoor spas, waterfalls, water features Huber Pools | 1367 N. Kihei Rd., Kihei | 879-0822 |
  • Therapeutic showers, bathtubs, bath fixtures Pacific Source Building Supply | 515 E. Uahi Way, Wailuku | 986-0380 |


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