By noon, I had been to a stretch class, learned how to salsa, consumed a carrot, cucumber, and beetroot juice, and been drizzled in oils by an Ayurvedic therapist who pointed out that my doshas (the energies that make up the body, duh) were wildly out of balance. She suggested a 14-day cleanse. I looked at my schedule for the rest of the day: a Dead Sea Mud Wrap and a Tree House Spoga (spinning and yoga, duh) class.
Tucked into mountainous cove on St. Lucia’s northern shore, The BodyHoliday is among the Caribbean’s elite spa destinations where the beleaguered head to relax, rejuvenate, and in many cases, get whipped into shape. Tailoring wellness experiences for twenty-five years, the resort’s promise is an indelible one—"Give us your body for a week and we’ll give you back your mind." To get you there, the compound has a small army of experts—spa therapists, fitness instructors, chefs, and doctors—ready to work 24/7 on your self-improvement. This, of course can be intimidating if you’re not entirely eager to hear about all the ways in which you need to be improved. I personally happen to like marathon fitness sessions, but it’s easy to have trepidations about this brand of “escape”. Who hasn’t had the odd friend disappear to some remote ashram/yurt/monastery and return (admittedly looking glowing, and like her skin had been Benjamin-Buttoned), evangelically describing the "amazing wheat-, sugar-, caffeine-, and alcohol-free menu" and how “fantastic” it feels to wake up every day at 4:30 am. I believe these people (kinda), but my vacation days are precious few and I’d rather not spend them eating cardboard, thanks.
So. What are these getaways really like? Here are some things to take into consideration, after a blissful four days spent at TheBodyHoliday.
Have it Both Ways
Pick a place where you can do as much or as little as you like. Unless you absolutely need a bootcamp environment for a stringent goal, it’s great to have some leeway and dictate your own schedule. What appeals about The BodyHoliday is that you can have it both ways—it’s entirely possible to commit to an acetic stay—early morning hikes, low-carb, -calorie, and -sugar meals (beautiful breakfast and lunch spreads, with plenty of fish, veggies, fruits, and nuts have subtle nutritional information, so you can make informed decisions, as do and menus at the resort’s three eateries—from a salad and smoothie spot to the upscale sushi restaurant Tao). You could undergo one of the resort’s personalized programs for aging, weight loss, detox, and more; book an entire day’s worth of activities—from tennis to paddleboarding, scuba, spinning, and a reiki session. Or, you could sleep late, head to the beach, and keep the mojitos coming.
Expect Fitness to Reign
Even if you’ve opted to stay close to the bar and the pool, it’s likely that many people around you will be on the move. At The BodyHoliday, one daily 50-minute spa treatment is included with stay. Some treatments on the menu aren’t traditional forms of relaxation: the "Bolus Bag Massage," one of the resort’s extensive Ayurvedic offerings, entails being lightly hit with a muslin bag full of herbs; a Prana Breath treatment eliminates sinus fluids from the body with an oft-uncomfortable combination of oil and steam in the nasal passages. But most are divinely calming, and because they’re included, you’re nudged to relax before you plan a thing. Classes and activities (yoga, core, dance, waterskiing) are free with your stay, which is a compelling argument for popping in and checking them out. Still, the class structure is just that—something that adds structure to your vacation day—and hitting a mark may not be for everyone.
Have a Broad Definition of Health
The BodyHoliday’s idea of wellness is comprehensive—which means that it’s just as important that there are no TVs in rooms as it is that everyone enjoys great wine (an in-house sommelier leads a wine pairing session before dinner). At these kinds of getaways—where the fun isn’t sucked out in favor of the grind—there’s equal emphasis on giving your mind a break as there is at improving your body. That’s good for anyone, whether your focus is fewer calories, better sleep, or no focus at all.
Photo credits: Courtesy of The BodyHoliday