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The Best Caribbean Spas

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By: Victoria De Silverio

Michael Grimm/Caneel BaySelf Centre at Caneel Bay on St. John is our top pick for the best Caribbean spa for spirituality

As if their sublime beaches, dependably idyllic climes, and gorgeous gardens were not enough, the Caribbean’s most serene spas have devised new ways to help visitors relax and recharge. Four of the region’s resorts, each with its own approach to inner bliss, have raised the ante in the serious business of taking it easy.

For more trip-planning info, see our Caribbean Travel Guide, then search for Caribbean travel deals  

Best Caribbean Spa for Romance

No need for chocolate and flowers at this intimate St. Lucia hotel.

Even if one has never ventured to St. Lucia, its iconic twin peaks, the Pitons, may be familiar icons. Exotic, and some say erotic, these volcanic mountains are never out of view at Anse Chastanet (www.ansechastanet.com), a sexy, earthy boutique hotel that’s perfect for couples, without the baggage of being labeled a “couple’s retreat.” Unencumbered by TVs, phones, and newspapers, twosomes can better focus on each other and the spectacular beauty of the island. Here, gorgeous wooden houses set into the hillsides among red eucalyptus trees serve as sanctuaries for two, where the only intrusions are small birds flying in and out.

On the beach at the base of sea cliffs is the Kai Belté Spa, whose name in the
local Creole dialect means “House of Beauty.” Transcendent Ayurvedic rituals like the bindi herbal body treatment use custom-blended herbs and oils to detox, cleanse, and calm a guest. A two-hour mini massage course teaches couples how to give each other a Swedish massage, while the Alchemy of Two package includes an aromatherapy bath and synchronous massages with tantra vibrational oils. To score lots of savings, book the Total Romance package, which includes transfers, meals, drinks, guided hikes, a sailing excursion, diving courses, and, naturally, a bottle of French champagne. 

For more trip-planning info, see our St. Lucia Travel Guide, then search for St. Lucia travel deals 

Best Caribbean Spa for Cuisine

Strenuous exercise + treatments = unexpected bliss on Dominica.

Dominica is ideal for those who think sipping cocktails and sunbathing on a beach is torture by boredom. Billed as the “Nature Island,” the rugged volcanic isle is known for the healthy, active lifestyle of its residents, a record number of whom are over the age of 100. (Elizabeth “Ma Pampo” Israel, who was the world’s oldest living human before she died at age 128 in 2003, called Dominica home.)

Longevity through fitness and pampering is the theme at Dominica’s remote Jungle Bay Resort & Spa (www.junglebaydominica.com). Thirty-five tree-house cottages rise inside a dense tropical canopy, with their balconies hovering over a dramatic 30-foot drop. Plentiful windows and outdoor showers keep the focus on the surrounding green. Year-round packages with titles such as Fitness Boot Camp and Jungle Spa Adventure, along with the yoga and strength-training sessions in outdoor studios, emphasize invigorating workouts. On field trips to waterfalls, hot springs, and beaches, guests work every muscle group while taking in the sights. Visitors can recover from all the action at the resort’s Spa du Soleil, where treatment rooms offer views of Morne Diablotins, the second tallest mountain in the eastern Caribbean. Amid exotic plants and wildflowers, guests can enjoy massages with organic essential oils from local presses. Walking the steep paths from the spa back to a tree-house hammock delivers the ultimate endorphin release.

For more trip-planning info, see our Dominica Travel Guide, then search for Dominica travel deals 

An Anguillan paradise for those who believe diet and well-being are connected.

Under the filtered Anguilla sunlight in the greenhouse, Howard M. Resh is flicking spiky yellow flowers on a tomato vine. “We have to vibrate each one every day,” he says. “We’re doing the work of bees.” Here at the CuisinArt Resort & Spa’s (www.cuisinartresort.com) hydroponic farm he manages, one of the first in the world in use by a hotel, the renowned hydroponics pioneer is in the middle of a tour. Guests gather to learn exactly how, in a dry climate on an island where produce often must be flown or boated in from the mainland, the fruits and vegetables on their plates are so remarkably fresh.

CuisinArt Resort & Spa, the brainchild of the same family who owns the kitchen appliance giant, concentrates on delivering great food. In the farm’s closed, soil-less hydroponic environment (relying on nutrients in water), organic crops of peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, and more can thrive. But the clear crowd favorite is the sweet, richly flavored cherry tomato. A bowl of the addictive fruits is placed in each guest room as the spa’s signature touch. “Go on, pick as many as you want,” Resh urges some guests, who have already started plucking tomatoes from the vines.

Small, eel-shaped Anguilla has 33 beaches, and the 35-acre resort lies on one of the prettiest and most isolated, Rendezvous Bay. Bougainvillea is everywhere, flowing from large planters and balconies, the deep-pink petals floating next to the snow-white stucco walls and azure domes of the Mediterranean-inspired architecture. The resort’s 93 rooms, all huge, are divided between the main building and beachside villas. Six recently added villas with as many as five bedrooms are ideal for families or those seeking extra privacy. In the distance, the mountains of St. Martin change from green to mauve by sunset.

After a major revamp in 2009, the resort’s state-of-the-art Venus Spa tripled in size, to 27,000 square feet. Farm-fresh ingredients are blended into treatments such as the sunburn-soothing cucumber-and-aloe wrap and the herbal aromatherapy massage. All the treatments on the extensive menu of scrubs, massages, soaks, Reiki, and reflexology are delivered by the exceedingly friendly staff, most of whom are native Anguillans trained in the States. Be sure to try an aquatic therapy session in the serene Healing Waters Pool, where a therapist guides floating limbs through gentle movements and stretches in warm saltwater. During the swishy back-to-the-womb experience, the mind is lulled into a primal relaxation. Come early to zone out in the hammam; before and after treatments, recline in the relaxation room with a view of the sea.

In the kitchen, chef Daniel Le Guenan, a native of Brittany, France, oversees two dining venues: a casual spot called Club Mediterraneo and Santorini, which specializes in Caribbean cuisine with a modern flair. Santorini features techniques and island recipes from the home countries of the staff (Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad, Anguilla), like the coconut milk-poached Anguillian lobster served with handmade pasta, wilted callaloo, and a West Indian curry. At the chef’s table in Santorini’s private dining room, Le Guenan offers a six-course menu paired with wines from the resort’s 3,600-bottle cellar. Local ingredients shine in dishes like sardine tempura with passion fruit vinaigrette and grilled agnolotti with crayfish tartar.

Wine-tasting classes and hands-on cooking classes are very popular; guests pick ingredients straight from the farm and orchards overflowing with avocados, guavas, tamarinds, oranges, and star fruits. Between rounds of cucumber-and-sage martinis, visitors can lollygag through the property’s lush botanical gardens of some 50,000 trees and flowering plants, drinking in the sweet fragrances of jasmine, honeysuckle, and white ginger.

For more trip-planning info, see our Anguilla Travel Guide  

Best Caribbean Spa for Spirituality

Mind and body go on a voyage, sometimes together, on St. John.

Caneel Bay (www.caneelbay.com) on St. John is hardly a secret. Adored for its privacy and exclusivity, the destination has been a favorite of discerning jet-setters since the 1950s, when millionaire conservationist Laurance Rockefeller built his luxurious but down-to-earth retreat on a 170-acre former sugar plantation fronting seven sugary-sand beaches. Often overlooked, however, is the excellent Self Centre at Caneel Bay (www.selfcentreinternational.com), the resort’s holistic, spiritual, healing, and relaxation spa. Going way beyond the typical pampering at spas, the Self Centre is focused on the mind-body-spirit paradigm.

Run by Jan Kinder, a student of Deepak Chopra, the Self Centre has classes that emphasize breathing techniques, meditation, and chakra realignment. Far-out (for some) treatments include vibration therapy, which employs tuning forks at acupuncture points, colored lights, and silk cloths with the goal of harmonizing the nervous system to attain that elusive inner peace. The menu offerings are à la carte, so guests can create their own program in advance or upon arrival. Throughout the year, the spa offers three- to five-day Primordial Sound Meditation and Perfect Health courses, devised by Chopra and wellness expert Dr. David Simon. The guided nature walks and stargazing excursions become all the more enjoyable after the other relaxation activities. Reserve one of the lovely waterfront cottages or splurge on Cottage 7, Rockefeller’s sumptuous former estate house.

For more trip-planning info, see our U.S. Virgin Islands Travel Guide, then search for U.S. Virgin Islands travel deals.

Best Caribbean Spa for Fitness

Strenuous exercise + treatments = unexpected bliss on Dominica.

Dominica is ideal for those who think sipping cocktails and sunbathing on a beach is torture by boredom. Billed as the “Nature Island,” the rugged volcanic isle is known for the healthy, active lifestyle of its residents, a record number of whom are over the age of 100. (Elizabeth “Ma Pampo” Israel, who was the world’s oldest living human before she died at age 128 in 2003, called Dominica home.)

Longevity through fitness and pampering is the theme at Dominica’s remote Jungle Bay Resort & Spa (www.junglebaydominica.com). Thirty-five tree-house cottages rise inside a dense tropical canopy, with their balconies hovering over a dramatic 30-foot drop. Plentiful windows and outdoor showers keep the focus on the surrounding green. Year-round packages with titles such as Fitness Boot Camp and Jungle Spa Adventure, along with the yoga and strength-training sessions in outdoor studios, emphasize invigorating workouts. On field trips to waterfalls, hot springs, and beaches, guests work every muscle group while taking in the sights. Visitors can recover from all the action at the resort’s Spa du Soleil, where treatment rooms offer views of Morne Diablotins, the second tallest mountain in the eastern Caribbean. Amid exotic plants and wildflowers, guests can enjoy massages with organic essential oils from local presses. Walking the steep paths from the spa back to a tree-house hammock delivers the ultimate endorphin release.

For more trip-planning info, see our Dominica Travel Guide, then search for Dominica travel deals 

An Anguillan paradise for those who believe diet and well-being are connected.

Under the filtered Anguilla sunlight in the greenhouse, Howard M. Resh is flicking spiky yellow flowers on a tomato vine. “We have to vibrate each one every day,” he says. “We’re doing the work of bees.” Here at the CuisinArt Resort & Spa’s (www.cuisinartresort.com) hydroponic farm he manages, one of the first in the world in use by a hotel, the renowned hydroponics pioneer is in the middle of a tour. Guests gather to learn exactly how, in a dry climate on an island where produce often must be flown or boated in from the mainland, the fruits and vegetables on their plates are so remarkably fresh.

CuisinArt Resort & Spa, the brainchild of the same family who owns the kitchen appliance giant, concentrates on delivering great food. In the farm’s closed, soil-less hydroponic environment (relying on nutrients in water), organic crops of peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, and more can thrive. But the clear crowd favorite is the sweet, richly flavored cherry tomato. A bowl of the addictive fruits is placed in each guest room as the spa’s signature touch. “Go on, pick as many as you want,” Resh urges some guests, who have already started plucking tomatoes from the vines.

Small, eel-shaped Anguilla has 33 beaches, and the 35-acre resort lies on one of the prettiest and most isolated, Rendezvous Bay. Bougainvillea is everywhere, flowing from large planters and balconies, the deep-pink petals floating next to the snow-white stucco walls and azure domes of the Mediterranean-inspired architecture. The resort’s 93 rooms, all huge, are divided between the main building and beachside villas. Six recently added villas with as many as five bedrooms are ideal for families or those seeking extra privacy. In the distance, the mountains of St. Martin change from green to mauve by sunset.

After a major revamp in 2009, the resort’s state-of-the-art Venus Spa tripled in size, to 27,000 square feet. Farm-fresh ingredients are blended into treatments such as the sunburn-soothing cucumber-and-aloe wrap and the herbal aromatherapy massage. All the treatments on the extensive menu of scrubs, massages, soaks, Reiki, and reflexology are delivered by the exceedingly friendly staff, most of whom are native Anguillans trained in the States. Be sure to try an aquatic therapy session in the serene Healing Waters Pool, where a therapist guides floating limbs through gentle movements and stretches in warm saltwater. During the swishy back-to-the-womb experience, the mind is lulled into a primal relaxation. Come early to zone out in the hammam; before and after treatments, recline in the relaxation room with a view of the sea.

In the kitchen, chef Daniel Le Guenan, a native of Brittany, France, oversees two dining venues: a casual spot called Club Mediterraneo and Santorini, which specializes in Caribbean cuisine with a modern flair. Santorini features techniques and island recipes from the home countries of the staff (Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad, Anguilla), like the coconut milk-poached Anguillian lobster served with handmade pasta, wilted callaloo, and a West Indian curry. At the chef’s table in Santorini’s private dining room, Le Guenan offers a six-course menu paired with wines from the resort’s 3,600-bottle cellar. Local ingredients shine in dishes like sardine tempura with passion fruit vinaigrette and grilled agnolotti with crayfish tartar.

Wine-tasting classes and hands-on cooking classes are very popular; guests pick ingredients straight from the farm and orchards overflowing with avocados, guavas, tamarinds, oranges, and star fruits. Between rounds of cucumber-and-sage martinis, visitors can lollygag through the property’s lush botanical gardens of some 50,000 trees and flowering plants, drinking in the sweet fragrances of jasmine, honeysuckle, and white ginger.

For more trip-planning info, see our Anguilla Travel Guide  

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