Three thousand feet above the rolling surf of Maui is a retreat that is probably the most relaxing mountain activity available on the island. Established in 2007 as a 501(c)3 non-profit, the Foundation aims to teach the benefits of essential oils as part of healthier mind and body. The goal is to educate the public in the use of aromatherapy and aromatic horticulture.
The luxurious grand villa was our accommodation, and it is perched high enough between two valleys to afford a spectacular view to the ocean.
Greeted by our host Tom, we were given a brief and informative tour. The spacious two level grand villa has several bedrooms on the top floor, including the spacious master suite. The beds throughout the villa are all perched high, so that the twinkling lights of the island towns below and the sparkling stars above are the views at night. By the next morning, the path of the rising sun was tracking across the valley beyond. We sipped coffee on the master bedroom porch and watched in silent wonder.
Downstairs can be reached via either staircase. The center stair case was hand carved by a local artisan from koa wood, and it took him a year. We were especially gentle in traversing this work of art. Once we descended the staircase we were afforded a full living room, with a grand kitchen and separate sitting area. The lower level opened up to a wrap-around patio, with the same valley view. A winding outdoor stairway brought us to the Jacuzzi and the pool, overseen by a placid Buddha statue.
Palm trees and over 900 plant species surround the area, which are the focus of the distillation process. Tom walked us through the garden, where he directed us to squeeze several species of plants and savor the fragrance. We packed a bucket of rose geranium, and he instructed us in the ancient process of distillation. Far from ending up with moonshine, we were each rewarded with a small spritzer of hydrosol. Given the Proustian nature of the often underappreciated sense of smell, I look forward to recalling our visit to the Aromatherapy Foundation whenever I use the spray.
I admit a sense of suspended disbelief about aromatherapy before our visit to the Aromatherapy Foundation of Maui, but now I am thoroughly intrigued with the study and practice of this ancient art.