your hosts

A Distinguished Staff of Hawaii Spa Therapists and Healers

From our 10 room eco-boutique hotel to an outdoor spa pavillion, Hawaii Island Retreat is staffed by the very best of Hawaii's spa therapists, healers, cultural experts, and outdoor guides to make your Hawaii spa vacation authentic and transformative.

Designed as a model of sustainability and elegant earth-friendly living, the 50-acre retreat is owned and operated by Jeanne Sunderland and Robert Watkins.

JEANNE SUNDERLAND is Hawaii Island Retreat's innkeeper and lead therapist. Respected in the Hawaiian community for her healing energy skills, she has studied with noted Hawaiian healers both la‘au lapa‘au, the traditional Hawaiian art of healing with plants, and lomilomi, traditional Hawaiian massage.

Founder of the “Spa Without Walls” at the former Ritz Carlton at Mauna Lani (now The Fairmont Orchid Hawaii), Jeanne is known for being one of the very first people to move Hawai‘i spas outside into the fresh and healing warm, tropical air. She has lived with her family in North Kohala for more than 30 years.


ROBERT WATKINS has been a North Kohala primary care physician for 30 years and now serves as Director of Emergency Services at Kohala Hospital. While in private practice he incorporated complementary medicine into his work, such as la‘au lapa‘au (the Hawaiian art of healing with plants), lomilomi (massage), applied kinesiology and homeopathy.

A passionate gardener, he is especially proud of his extensive avocado and lychee orchards as well as his healing and other organic gardens around the lodge and Spa. Our spa cuisine features his fresh, homegrown fruits and vegetables. Robert and his son Daemion, who was Hawaii Island Retreat's contractor, built all our retreat structures.