At Play with Tony Nayeli and wife Kamala Nayeli

By Nicole Dorsey Straff / September 12, 2011

Spa Directors for the Hina Spa at the Hilton Bora Bora (Tony) and the Manea Spa at the Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort & Spa (Kamala), the couple also give fabulous massages using organic oil pressed from local coconuts infused with fragrant tiare flowers. They finish each other’s sentences, raise two young sons on Bora Bora (no Gymboree! no movie theater!) and perfectly reflect the sustainability and sensuality of the French Polynesian islands. In fact, Hilton Hotels here are dedicated to conserving energy with everything from solar panels on thatched roofs to literally helping the coral re-grow on the reefs.

This is a magical place. Why is Bora Bora so spa-perfect?

Tony Nayeli: First, there is the raw sensuality with the tropical sun and bathwater-warm lagoon, so just being here feels good for body and mind. Especially if you’re here commemorating a huge personal event like a marriage or anniversary, or just to celebrate life—wow, what a trip!

Bora Bora has the most beautiful lagoon in the world, so everything you do with that picture-postcard backdrop seems much more significant. You combine all of that with luscious and exotic ingredients, and you’ve got a recipe for bliss.

Why am I so transported? I feel totally immersed in local culture.

Kamala Nayeli: Most everything at our spa is authentically Polynesian, from our architecture to our spa staff. You can just read the spa menu and learn a lot about the local culture because each service offers an experience deeply connected to Bora Bora. Taurumi is a closely guarded body-work tradition [massage] that is considered to be sacred. Each family has their own approach, which is passed down from one generation to the next. From the time they are babies many Polynesians grow up accustomed to being massaged with homemade monoï produced from local flora. Polynesians have been using spa techniques, such as reflexology, as a form of healing long before the first hotel appeared. Our spa products are inspired by and incorporate all natural ingredients indigenous to the islands such as vanilla, pineapple, bamboo, and tamanu, the sacred nut of Polynesia with its healing and medicinal properties.

When you live and work in Paradise, what can you do for fun, and how do you stay so playful and authentic?

TN: Of all the things we do here in paradise, we enjoy spending as much time as we can in the lagoon with our sons, playing in the surf, and with the tiny crabs on the beach, making music, planning motu picnics…

KN: To tell you the truth, I wouldn’t mind an occasional playful trip to Whole Foods here on Bora Bora or anywhere around here. Now, that would be Paradise! (They laugh.)

Nicole Dorsey Straff

Nicole Dorsey Straff

Nicole Dorsey, M.S. is a travel and wellness expert who earned a Master’s Degree in the health sciences while writing and editing for industry giants, such as The New York Times, Fitness Magazine and Her true passion is adventure travel and her spa reporting has taken her all over the world.
Nicole Dorsey Straff

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