The Hawaiian Vacation, Now With IV Drips and $12,000 Stem Cell Therapy
A trip to find the bleeding edge of wellness travel at Four Seasons Maui, where Next Health is offering an extensive menu of treatments
I’m on vacation in Maui with an IV in my arm.
Until recently, if you found yourself in my position (the IV, not Maui), you were probably in a hospital and not having a great day. But luckily, I am not in the ER and my day is on its way to being one of the best in recent memory. That’s because this IV drip is of the elective variety, and I’m sitting in a plush leather chair, feet up, looking towards the Pacific Ocean at one of Hawaii’s most legendary hotels.
Halfway through my session, I’m also riding the high you get from partaking in indulgent wellness practices. It’s sort of a smug confidence with a dash of invincibility and self-congratulations derived from treating yourself to something that’s both entirely non-essential and positive for your body. I imagine this is what Superman feels like…or at least Tom Brady. It could have something to do with the vitamins, electrolytes and cell-enhancing coenzymes being pumped directly into my veins.
Before diving into the medical particulars, and how a hotel in Hawaii offers access to wellness treatments that the vast majority of people can’t even find in their home city (the most expensive single menu offering is a stem cell treatment for $12,000), allow me to step back and set the scene.
I’m at Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, a five-star, 15-acre property that for 33 years, since opening in 1990, has consistently been lauded as one of Hawaii’s best hotels. While well known to seasoned luxury travelers (in swapping hotel recommendations around the world I’ve found that most have visited at least once), the resort was recently thrust into the cultural zeitgeist by serving as the location of season one of HBO’s The White Lotus. But don’t let the entitled characters of that made-up hotel put you off — the real crowd here, like the property itself, is more laid back than you’d think.
Where some high-end hotels can feel stuffy on one end of the spectrum or overly trendy on the other, Four Seasons Maui has managed to strike a balance, one that brings in guests that run the gamut. Walking the manicured grounds and throughout the resort, which boasts 383 rooms, you’ll find a mix of parents with young children, 30-somethings on their honeymoon, couples in their 40s to 70s, and multi-generational families. It helps that the expansive, indoor-outdoor spaces here lend themselves to spreading out, and three separate pools (the kids pool, the 24-hour Fountain Pool and the adults-only Serenity Pool) allow guests to self-select into the vibe they’re seeking.
The atmosphere I was looking for was found at the Serenity Pool, which has a swim-up bar and underwater speakers, and serves as the resort’s premier location to Instagram and be Instagrammed. It’s also flanked by a row of swanky cabanas, some designed in collaboration with Missoni and others with photographer Gray Malin, the latter of which I opted for.
Simply hanging by this pool was one of the top things I was looking forward to revisiting on this, my second time staying at the property. The last time I was here, also for purposes of travel writing, was nine years ago. In that time, a lot has changed, both in the travel world at large and in my experiences across a wide array of resorts. With this passage of time and new benchmarks in mind, I wondered how Four Seasons Maui would be different and if it’d be as good as I remembered.
At first glance, nothing had changed. You’d think the lobby, the three restaurants, the pools and the grounds would show some wear and feel a little more tired, but they felt frozen in time since I last checked out. But that’s a key part of the luxury experience: consistency. This isn’t to say the Four Seasons ascribes to an if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it policy. I found that in the time I’d been away the hotel had continued to amp up their programming, added to their museum-quality art collection, and invested in a resort-wide room refresh that modernized decor with upgraded art as well as natural colors and textures reflective of the surrounding area. And in a less exciting but practical sign times had changed, each room now comes equipped with a HEPA air purifier.
The Evolution of Wellness Travel
The most notable updates at Four Seasons Maui have come in the spa offerings. Already home to one of the best spas in Hawaii, the resort could have easily gone about business as usual. Instead, they’ve remained on the forefront of the rapidly evolving wellness world by expanding their already sizable menu of traditional treatments, like massages, facials and body wraps, to include services more new-age and holistic in nature. Now, a dedicated menu of wellness offerings include an array of options like guided meditations, astrological readings and an aura healing session with “clairvoyant energy-work.”
While the integration of these services puts the hotel at the front of the pack in wellness, their latest offering puts them years into the future, out-innovating properties a fraction of their age. I speak of the resort’s partnership with Next Health, a state-of-the-art “health optimization and longevity center” with three outposts in L.A. and one in New York City. This brings me back to the comfortable leather chair and the IV needle in my arm.
This isn’t my first IV drip, so I’m familiar with the concept and at ease. My relaxed state — although aided by the oceanfront “heart, mind, body, and soul-opening” Lomi Mohala massage I just came from — can mostly be attributed to the fact that I’m already familiar with Next Health. Being based in L.A., where wellness trends get called crazy for a few years before becoming mainstream, I’ve previously visited Next Health’s location in West Hollywood for an IV drip and their newest outpost in Studio City for a session in a full-body infrared light bed. But rest assured, even if you’re a first-timer, you’ll have no reason to not be as relaxed as I am.
Four Seasons Maui calls this collaboration “white-glove wellness.” The resort’s director of strategic partnerships, Jacqueline Nelson, adds that “Next Health carries the same strong focus on customer service for which Four Seasons is known, so it provides the perfect complement to our spa.” The facilities are also housed in a dedicated, Next Health-branded center located in a quiet and private part of the hotel surrounded by lush tropical foliage. Perhaps most importantly, however, the facility is run by an experienced staff including a nurse practitioner and a team of registered nurses who are warm and welcoming, and have answers to all your questions. And you’ll certainly have questions, especially when it comes to their more advanced treatments.
The Next Health Treatments
On the most simple and least expensive end of the Next Health menu, and well suited for newbies looking to dip their toe in the wellness pool, you’ll find an array of vitamin shots. With options like the Brain B Shot (L-carnitine and B12), the Beauty B Shot (biotin and folic acid) and an immunity-boosting peptide shot, you’re looking at a straightforward injection that’ll take just a few minutes total and set you back $59. Moving slightly into more advanced territory, there are IV drips. Each formulation contains a base of hydrating fluids, electrolytes and multivitamins (vitamin B blend, B complex, B12, vitamin C, zinc, magnesium, calcium, copper and chromium), then differs in the components added to target specific areas of concern. Options include drips intended to combat hangovers, increase energy, boost immunity, reduce stress, aid in muscle building, and enhance mood and cognitive function, among others. IV sessions take 30 minutes, cost $299, and in the near future, will also be available to be administered poolside for guests in Serenity Pool cabanas.
For my session, I chose the Gut Health IV (“an anti-inflammatory blend that supports overall GI health and strengthens the gut lining to protect your health and immunity”). Given that the gut has gotten so much attention of late as the epicenter of human health, and given that I’m eating and drinking with near-reckless abandon on this trip, I thought it would be a prudent choice. Taking it up another notch, I opted for an add-on treatment called the Jet Lag Relief Pack. Tagging on another 30 minutes and another $299, it includes a second IV bag with more hydrating fluids, glutathione and NAD+, then wraps up with a shot of antioxidant CoQ10 delivered to your upper glute.
It’s the NAD+ that brings us one step closer to Next Health’s most next-level offerings. Standing for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, NAD+ is a coenzyme that enhances the mitochondria in our cells, which are responsible for the production of energy. And since the health of mitochondria decreases with age and with exposure to factors like stress, diet and environmental toxins, delivering NAD+ directly to the bloodstream is allegedly one of the fastest and most effective ways to reawaken tired cells and reap purported benefits like elevated mood, better sleep, and enhanced memory and focus. If that sounds appealing and the 100mg of NAD+ found in the Jet Lag Relief Pack isn’t enough, there’s also the 750mg dose of NAD+ available in the four-hour-long, $1,250 NAD+ IV Drip.
From here, we wade into the deep end of wellness with the three offerings that are most surprising to be found at a hotel. First up, at $1,200, is ozone therapy, which is a process involving “the separation and oxygenation of blood” to “encourage bio-rejuvenation. Next, at $6,000, is exosome therapy, where exosomes, “proteins that are considered the brain of stem cells,” are injected to optimize cell communication and “help improve a variety of bodily functions.” Lastly, at $12,000, there’s stem cell therapy, which can “help orchestrate and improve cell communication, optimizing the efficiency of a variety of bodily processes, which may improve overall vitality.” And if you can’t decide on just one treatment, there’s also the $16,000 Renew Package, which combines stem cell therapy, exosome therapy and the Longevity IV Drip.
While these prices will cause sticker shock to most, and while the majority of those who’ve visited this Next Health facility thus far have stuck with vitamin shots and IVs, guests have taken part in all available services, including stem cell therapy and the Renew Package. And really, if you’re staying a week in a room like the Maile Presidential Suite, which can clock in at $29,000 per night, $16,000 isn’t going to put you in the red.
If you’re not yet ready to drop that kind of money or embark on any of the aforementioned treatments, yet you’re interested in learning more about your body, there’s also a menu of biomarker tests. These include options like micronutrient and gut sensitivity tests, as well as genetic testing and a one to determine the level of heavy metals in your system. They can be performed while at Four Seasons Maui, or at home prior to your trip, with the data from your results then used to guide or customize your vacation-based treatment.
Where Does Wellness Go From Here?
“More than ever, our guests are seeking advanced, results-driven treatments,” says Pat Makozak, Four Seasons Maui’s senior spa director, “and our collaboration with Next Health allows us to continue to push forward as leaders in the wellness travel space.”
It’s with this in mind that the resort will soon integrate Next Beauty into the hotel’s spa and wellness offering. Meaning, in addition to working on internal enhancements, you’ll also be able to address the external with services like skin tightening, wrinkle relaxers and fillers. If that’s not for you though, the future may also hold a full Next Health build-out within the hotel to make room for a suite of wellness technology like cryotherapy, hyperbaric oxygen chambers and infrared therapy.
With the bar set this high and only getting higher, it’s now time for other resort brands to play catch up. Granted, not every hotel needs to offer stem cell therapy along with their breakfast buffet, but the mere fact that it exists will prompt others to think outside the box when implementing new wellness treatments and technology in order to remain competitive. And hotels with the most enticing programs will win.
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