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The Wellness Questionnaire with Kamala Nayeli, Director of Spa and Wellness at Halekulani and Halepuna

Discover how this spa director keeps health and wellbeing front and center in her own life.


Kamala Nayeli is director of spa and wellness at Halekulani and Halepuna, two luxury hotels in Waikiki. At SpaHalekulani, she oversees daily spa operations, develops innovative wellness programming, and maintains SpaHalekulani’s sustainable wellness practices. Previously, Nayeli served as spa director at Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort’s Manea Spa, establishing additional locations in Tahiti and Huahine. She also worked as guest relations manager at the Canyon Ranch Spa Club aboard the Queen Mary II, Cunard’s flagship ocean liner. Her experience also includes serving as a program advisor at Canyon Ranch Health Resort in Tucson, AZ.

Graduating from the Desert Institute of Healing Arts in Tucson, she holds a degree in Eastern Philosophy and Asian Bodywork. Here, this mom to two boys shares how she finds peace on her yoga mat and her go-to for managing stress.

What does wellness mean to you? 

The concept of wellness is more than simply taking a yoga class once a week or receiving a massage every month, it’s about establishing a lifestyle of healthy habits to support your mind and body. 

What are your favorite things to do to maintain your personal wellbeing?

My daily practice to maintain wellbeing is simple: eat well, work well, play well, and rest well, in this order.  

I start the day with a morning elixir of room temperature water and a splash of lemon or apple cider vinegar. I follow the 80/20 rule of consuming mostly whole, nutrient-dense foods and only a small portion of processed foods. I try to manage my time at work, delegate when possible, and give myself permission to complete certain tasks the following day. This allows me to leave the office at a reasonable hour without feeling depleted. I also try to get my 10K steps in each day.

I enjoy family game nights, when we take a break from the screens and either play cards or dive into a strategic board game. Chess is our favorite! I also make time to connect and raise a glass with friends on occasion. Lastly, I consider my bedtime to be sacred. My evening ritual includes cleansing my skin, saying words of gratitude, and creating a quiet room for quality sleep.

Is there a specific fitness activity that you love and why?

I love personal time on my mat. My yoga mat has become a sanctuary. It stays out 24/7 and welcomes me at any hour of the day. Sometimes I only need a few minutes to find my center, and other days I can spend more than 90 minutes building endurance, with absolutely no judgement.

What is your favorite healthy food, and do you have a favorite way of preparing it?

Medjool dates stuffed with goat cheese and topped with walnuts. It’s the perfect combination of sweet, savory, and crunch.

What is your favorite healthy beverage (alcoholic or non-alcoholic), and do you have any insider tips for preparing it?

My morning elixir of room-temperature water with a splash of lemon or apple cider vinegar.

What is your greatest wellness achievement?

Raising two beacons of light, my sons Kahi and Manoa.

What is the best piece of wellness advice you have ever received and from whom?

“Seek first to understand then to be understood,” writes Stephen Covey in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change.

What do you think is the most exciting wellness innovation you have recently discovered? 

Outdoor gyms and open spaces with innovative installations for movement and exercise.

What do you think is the most overused word or words in wellness?

In my opinion, wellness should be over communicated, and there is no limit to how many times a word or a message can be relayed. 

Do you have a secret health or wellness tip you would like to share?

Ask yourself, “Does it nourish me or deplete me?” Then make the right decision for YOU! This pertains to nearly every aspect of your life, including food and beverages, as well as professional and personal relationships. 

What is your favorite place for a healthy vacation or escape?

Bora Bora or Brooklyn. My spirit is at peace in the South Pacific, and it comes alive in the creative community of New York.

Is there a particular wellness company or brand that truly impresses you with their efforts and why?

B Lab is a nonprofit network transforming the economy to benefit all people, communities, and the planet. Certified B Corporations are leaders in the global movement for an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economy. 

What is your favorite self-care routine?

Simple—eat well, workwell, play well, and rest well in that order.

What is your go-to for de-stressing?

Aromatherapy, without question. It’s like a fast track to the brain and capable of shifting you from the sympathetic nervous system to a parasympathetic state of being, in a matter of seconds.

What wellness-related books or authors do you recommend, and why?

Any book by Thich Nhat Hanh, who teaches us to be mindful and find peace every step of the way.

What brings you joy?

Accomplishment, exploring nature, and spending quality time with family.

About The Author

Heather, co-founder of Well Defined and the former editor-in-chief of American Spa, is an award-winning journalist and content strategist, skilled in writing, copyediting, and media relations. She is also a freelance writer and has contributed to Elite Traveler, Islands, Kiwi, Luxury Travel Advisor, Organic Spa, Porthole Cruise, Travel Agent,,,, and, in addition to various custom publications. She is frequently called upon to comment on various spa and wellness trends for various media outlets.