For Salon Blanc co-owner Alan Vuong, hair is more than something to tuck behind an ear or sweep over a shoulder—it's an artistic medium that inspires creativity and pride. The salon's website even asserts that "hair is an expression of the moment we live in." Nothing could hold truer for Vuong and his team, who are continually educating themselves on the latest cutting and coloring techniques and products. They displayed these to full effect when they journeyed to California for the 2011 International Salon and Spa Expo—one of the largest professional beauty events on the West Coast—a trip chronicled on Living Local.
Vuong's trendsetting artistic vision earned him the title of Honolulu magazine's Editors' Pick for Best Hairstylist in 2009, and according to that publication, "he even has clients flying in from Japan and Guam to get the Vuong vibe." He and his crew rely on the Kérastase and Shu Uemura lines for haircare, and also offer services such as bridal packages, makeup, and waxing.
It should come as no surprise that Vuong is as concerned with the salon aesthetic as he is with his clients' satisfaction. His blank-canvas hair philosophy is much like the look of the Ala Moana Beach–facing salon itself; in fact, he compared the space to an artist's studio in a feature in American Salon magazine. The minimalist, white-on-white interior is accentuated by black leather chairs and feathery chandeliers that are lighter and more elegant than a performance of Swan Lake on the international space station.
In medical school, Dr. Carolyn Mai's mentors wanted her to become a surgeon. They noticed her uncanny attention to detail and that she possessed the steady, certain hands and a keen eye—skills which she now uses to administer noninvasive treatments that correct blemishes and signs of aging.
In Dr. Mai's office, patients don’t bounce from specialist to specialist, nor does the doc bounce from patient to patient. She keeps every appointment one-on-one, delivering close, personal attention that not only maintains the continuity of treatments, but also helps put patients at ease. Dr. Mai sees herself as being an approachable doctor who seeks to see her patients feeling more confident on their way out of the office than they did upon entering.
In keeping with this down-to-earth caregiving philosophy, Dr. Mai designed her office to feel light and airy with light blue walls that wrap around white, contemporary furniture. Large leafy plants overlook patients sipping tea and coffee, creating a relaxing atmosphere.
At Oasis Club and Spa for Women, the dual energizing effects of exercise and relaxation meet under the same roof. Ladies of any age can seek out camaraderie and encouragement as they burn calories in outdoor boot-camp programs, Pro Fit semiprivate personal-training sessions, and group classes that include Zumba, yoga, and circuit training. Even when prepping for solo workouts, guests can benefit from the warm staff's instructions on how to use their stock of HumanSport functional-training equipment from Star Trac.
Spa visits needn't be a solitary affair, either. Friends can find serenity simultaneously with party packages for girls' nights and outings for couples, brightening their complexions with Dermalogica skincare products and gabbing about the latest in cucumber-based eyewear. The spa tries to incorporate all-natural ingredients into treatments such as Bronze Biologic spray tans, Nufree botanical hair removal, and hot-stone massages.
Each Body By Laser clinic pairs cold-laser technology with holistic health practices to help patients lose inches and keep them off. The treatment gets its magic from cold lipolasers, which are designed to gently shrink fat cells by dislodging their contents so that they can be fully discarded through the body's natural metabolic process and series of tiny secondhand stores. Each one-hour treatment series wraps up with a consultation on diet and exercise, along with a quick session atop a whole-body-vibration platform engineered to burn even more calories.
Like art-house films and fish-flavored popsicles, these procedures are not intended for everyone; females who are pregnant or nursing should not undertake the treatment, nor should patients with active forms of cancer. Should any complications be discovered during Body By Laser's initial screening, the company will issue a refund.
The licensed massage therapists at the Shiatsu & Massage Center apply refreshing oils and knead sore muscles using massage techniques intended to soothe and invigorate. Tense bodies enjoy a one-hour massage in their choice of shiatsu, deep relaxation, sports, or lomi lomi styles. A whole-body deep relaxation massage works to loosen muscles by supplying continuous pressure without complicated manipulations, just as a telephone supplies continuous pizza without complicated trips outside. A spiritually minded treatment designed to heal and energize, Hawaiian lomi lomi massage varies in intensity from soft to strong depending on the practitioner, but it always employs strokes timed to clients' breaths and a focus on the abdomen as the body's most important energy storehouse. The scent of lavender essential oils pervades nostrils as guests unwind to relaxing music, while the parlor’s soft sunset colors conjure fictitious memories of beachside massages from talking crustaceans.
Gym-goers soak up mountain views, ocean breezes, and fitness tips in Island Club and Spa's luxurious multistory gym and spa facility. The 65,000-square-foot facility affords ample room for team sports, strength-training and cardio equipment, yoga and martial-arts studios, and a temperature-controlled outdoor pool and sun deck. Staff members lead about 85 exercise classes weekly, ranging from ballet to boxing, bestowing their students with the chiseled frames of Michelangelo or Donatello and the multidisciplinary wisdom of Master Splinter. A private Pilates studio helps bodies of all fitness levels align their spines, improve flexibility, and develop core strength and balance. After class—or before they even sign up—visitors may stop by the bar and lounge for a glass of wine and a bite of something healthy.