When a trusted colleague told me I “may not love” The BodyHoliday in Saint Lucia, I took note. But I also kept an open mind because in the decades I’ve spent combing the globe—steaming, soaking, and test-driving treatments—I’ve learned that love for a spa (or a particular therapy/therapist) ultimately boils down to connection. And what resonates on a personal, soul level.
Without much effort, I found a connection at The BodyHoliday. But I can understand why my friend perhaps did not. She arrived, I know, with a specific expectation. And The Body Holiday is not easily categorized. It’s not a deprivation-inspired destination spa—alcohol flows freely alongside gourmet dinners made from, wow, real butter. Nor is it a resort spa. There are simply too many boot-camp-style spin, aquatic, bum-and-leg-toning classes, yoga and tai chi offerings and authentic spa therapies.
The BodyHoliday is, true to its name, a holiday. A mindful, health-oriented holiday that attracts as many women as men, more Europeans (mostly from the UK) than Americans, and wellness/fitness-minded celebrities.
On the day I arrived, two long-legged spa-goers in stringy bikinis (one a known Victoria’s Secret model) conversed over green smoothies at the ocean-side health bar, while a professional UK rugby player munched on burgers and fries.
Andrew Barnard, the tall, charismatic general manager, briefed me on the resort’s unique vibe.
“[BodyHoliday] means something different for everyone. You take what you want and go with it. We get people going through life changes who want to reinvent themselves, shed a few pounds, and those who are emotionally fragile and want to lie on the beach all day. We get couples and families. And we get the serious marathon runner and long-distance swimmer who come here to train.”
The BodyHoliday also gets me, the spa purist, who found my mojo at the top of the long, 90-step climb, inside the tranquil Wellness Centre where I quickly settled into the rhythm of authentic healing therapies. The Ayurveda program, said to be the only one of its kind in the Caribbean, is led by a physician from Kerala who, after diagnosing me as a Vata, prescribed a four-handed Abyanga massage followed by Shirodara. After noodling off the neem table, I was ready to rearrange my stay and follow an intensive seven-day Ayurveda detox.
Instead, I checked into the high-tech Skin Care Clinic for a facial by renowned guru, Dr. Michael Prager. The BodyHoliday is the only location outside Dr. Prager’s London clinic where the facial is available. I also spent time with master therapist Toby McGuire who perfected his craft in Thailand at Chiva Som, Six Senses Spa, and Kamalaya, and delivered a deep, at-times-painful Chi Nei Tsang (abdominal) massage.
A stay at The BodyHoliday, in season, including room, meals, drinks, all activities, classes, water sports and one spa treatment per day starts at $547 per person per day. My junior suite came with a balcony and ocean view, plus deep-soaking tub (which sadly was minus the sea view).
The vibe is young, hip, fun. A place of wellness balance where I can bring my guy, where he can work out, go deep-sea fishing, eat burgers, fresh fish, and yummy homemade ice cream, have a beer (or two), and enjoy his daily spa treatment, while I cocoon into the Ayurveda temple for a cleansing detox.
This review was published on September 25, 2013.