Maui-style massage here in the foothills |

Maui-style massage here in the foothills

Photo for The Union by John Hart
John Hart | The Union

It’s easy to find a foothills resident who dreams of moving to Maui. But it’s much harder to find one who actually does.

Ten years ago, massage therapist Marsh Reeves packed up her things and started a new life on the “Valley Isle,” Hawaii’s second largest island.

“I moved to Maui for the fruit, flowers and fish,” she said. “And I absolutely loved whale season.”

During her visits prior to moving to the island, Reeves had become acquainted with a Hawaiian massage technique known as “Lomilomi.” With more than five years of working as a massage therapist under her belt on the mainland, she was eager to get her Lomilomi certification once she settled in.

An indigenous Hawaiian practice thought to date back to early Polynesian settlers, Lomilomi is meant to follow the rhythm and flow of the ocean. Now most popular in Hawaii, Europe and Japan, the practitioner uses flowing, long, continuous strokes with both the hands and forearms — reminiscent of a hula dance, said Reeves.

“People say it feels like gentle waves are moving over your body,” she said. “It’s often referred to as the ‘massage of love.’ There are dance moves that translate to the body movements, and as part of my training, I had to learn to dance before I could begin touching clients.”

While training, Reeves said she experienced “extraordinary connections and love” from the Lomilomi masters she learned from and eventually worked alongside.

Upon her certification, Reeves spent the next decade working for a spa on the beach of Ka’anapali. So popular were her Lomilomi massages that she developed a long list of private clients as well.

But after 10 years of sun, ocean and sand, Reeves began to feel the call of the foothills.

“Eventually, I was ready to come back to my family roots,” said Reeves, a graduate of Colfax High School. “But I will always love Maui.”

In January, Reeves opened Aloha Healing Touch Massage on South Auburn Street in Grass Valley.

The Hawaiian mural next to the massage table, the soothing colors of the room and the traditional scent of Lomilomi oil — made of coconut and lemongrass — are designed to mentally transport clients more than 2,500 miles southwest of the Gold Country.

Aloha Healing Touch Massage had its grand opening Feb. 9, complete with a blessing from master hula teacher Kumu Moana and live ukulele music.

From day one, Reeves has been getting a steady stream of calls, and business has doubled since the grand opening, she said.

In addition to Lomilomi, Aloha Healing Touch Massage also offers:

Traditional therapeutic massage — designed to address chronic pain and injury with an understanding of the body’s history of underlying causes

Pohaku — the penetrating warmth of smooth river stones aid in muscle relaxation.

Pregnancy massage — massage performed while a woman lies on her side, using body and neck pillows for support.

Aloha Deluxe — A mango body scrub following by a Lomilomi massage and coconut cream wrap. Reeves said she also offers deep tissue massage, Reiki and additional scrubs and wraps. The cluster of peaceful rooms adjacent to Aloha Healing Touch Massage offers Reiki, acupuncture and facials, as well as a hair and nail salon downstairs.

Despite the 10 memorable years she spent on the “Valley Isle,” Reeves isn’t going anywhere soon. Instead, she said, she gets immense reward from giving clients a brief escape from their daily routine.

“Coming to Aloha Healing Touch Massage is like a mini trip to the islands,” she said. “Everybody loves Maui. Who doesn’t want to feel like they’re in Hawaii?”

To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email her at or call 530-477-4203.

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