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Maui resort marks 20 years with 20-hand massage

The 20-hand massage at Grand Wailea's spa will cost you $2,000. Luckily, all those hands won't be outstretched for a tip.

The effect must be similar to 10 maestros all sitting down on the same piano bench. But instead of bestowing their virtuosity upon 85 ivory keys, they’re simultaneously striking your aching muscles.

It’s the 20-Hands Duo Massage at Spa Grande at the Grand Wailea Resort, the posh Waldorf Astoria property on Maui.

Launched in September, it’s all part of celebrating the resort’s 20th anniversary.

“We were just throwing ideas around and were trying to come up with something fun and over-the-top,” said Stephenie Handley, assistant spa director at Grand Wailea. “We came up with the idea of having two people getting massaged head-to-toe by 20 different hands. We think our guests will find it an unforgettable relaxation experience.”

The price?

Twenty bucks per digit — or $2,000 per couple.

Handley said the Hawaiian massage involves five therapists per person who deploy a carefully choreographed “hula wave” that has 100 fingers dancing across each guest’s body as the masseurs circle each table for 50 blissful minutes. The entire treatment lasts 2 1/2 hours.

The therapists practice on one another about once a week so that no one steps on another’s toes while they’re applying the treatment.

“With any traditional massage, the brain is bound to focus on where the hands are working,” said Handley, who has been a recipient of the massage. “But the synchronicity of all these fingers working at once tricks the brain into totally relaxing.”

Industry experts interested in spa trends credit the Grand Wailea for an innovation bound to inspire imitators.

“It’s important for spas in this competitive hospitality environment to find ways to differentiate themselves from one another,” said Katie Davin, director of hospitality education at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I. “This one really captures the imagination. This is the kind of creativity all the spas aim for. For them, this will be like the chocolate massage at Hershey. Others may try and copy them, but everyone’s going to want the original.”

The promotion will run through December 2012, but no one has booked the pricey splurge just yet. The price will remain at $2,000 for the duration, Handley said.

“We’ve had a lot of people ask about it and a few people even book reservations, but so far the only people who’ve been able to enjoy the massage are staff,” she said.

The price includes taxes and gratuities.

Good thing, too. Who knows what sort of tipping quagmire might ensue with all those busy hands out?

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Chris Rodell is a Latrobe, Pa. based contributor who blogs at www.EightDaysToAmish.com.