Treat your body and mind with yoga, pilates and myriad spa sessions at a Caribbean wellness resort
The Caribbean is known for its palm beaches, rum punches and all-inclusive hotels, but in St Lucia there’s a resort that promises that if you give them your body for a week, they will give you back your mind. As co-founder of wellness holidays specialist Health and Fitness Travel, I was more than willing to give it a go.
Far from another fly-and-flop holiday, I spent nine nights in St Lucia at The BodyHoliday on a health and fitness break to put my mind and body back on track, mixing healthy juices and indulgent breakfasts with exercise, activities and daily spa treatments.
Featuring an endless list of the aforementioned spa treatments paired with a variety of fitness classes and activities, this is an ideal wellness holiday for those wanting to learn a healthier approach to life. For a more spiritual holiday there’s a variety of holistic classes, including daily yoga, pilates, meditation, chi gong and tai chi, along with specialised treatments.
After arriving in St Lucia (following an eight-hour direct flight from London), I opted for the short helicopter transfer which I can highly recommend for a scenic view of the island’s Atlantic coasts and beautiful rainforest. Settled into my luxury ocean view room, I then headed down to the club house to pick up my weekly activity schedule along with the body yoga schedule. I had also pre-booked Health and Fitness Travel’s exclusive BodyHoliday Fusion Fitness programme which gave me a seven-day wellness programme to choose from a menu of one-on-one private activities and specialised treatments.
My first day started with a 7am beach fit class, a challenging workout combining cardiovascular and resistance exercises, followed by a hatha yoga class at the wellness centre. With classes including bodyspin, zumba, circuits and box fit, as well as activities from golf to archery and a running club to group bike rides, there really is something for everyone to keep active.
I’m a big fan of the water and spent most days swimming, trying paddle boarding, windsurfing, kayaking and sailing with the assistance of the fabulous water sports team. I did attempt the morning swim to Smugglers Beach (2.5km) which was more challenging than I anticipated, but as the speed boat followed us out, I knew if I got really tired I’d be OK. However, I’d recommend starting with the morning swim to Smugglers Bay (1km) for an easier introduction. Out of the water, make sure you don’t miss the morning guided walks to Pigeon Island.
The yoga schedule offered four daily classes with two teachers offering different styles from ashtanga, vinyasa and hatha to pranayama, katti, yang and core fusion yoga. Lily Eslahjou, the resident yoga teacher, is one of the best I’ve practised with; she teaches many styles and is certified in pilates, offering variations to each pose which make her classes suitable for all levels.
To complement yoga there is meditation most days and I’d recommend attending the classes taught by Samantha who is also a yoga practitioner and ayurvedic doctor. Samantha had a natural touch for putting the class into a deep relaxation for total serenity. Toby’s qi gong classes and Edwin’s early morning tai chi at Coubaril Valley are also worth trying, and if you want to wake up with an early morning stretch class then stretching with Dr Alan Platt is a must.
What I love about this wellness retreat is that all guests have a complimentary 50 minute spa treatment each day, included in the price. The wellness centre is nicely positioned away from the main resort with breathtaking views of the coastline; one of my personal favourites was the lime and ginger scrub which included a firm massage, head rub and exfoliation that left my skin feeling super soft.
Asides from the all-inclusive offering it’s also worth paying extra for the more holistic and rejuvenating treatments for the ultimate wellness experience. Being a big fan of ayurvedic treatments I opted for some of the specialised holistic therapies at the ayurveda centre run by acupuncturist Dr Maha. The ayurveda treatments are impressive with udvartana being my personal favourite – a detoxifying therapy to cleanse the body with a mixture of different natural herbs.
There is also a beauty salon at The BodyHoliday with a specialised skin clinic offering a range of anti-ageing spa treatments from non-surgical facelifts and microdermabrasion to hydrating intensive facials.
With four dining options from which to choose, book Tao for Asian fusion a à la carte and Cariblue Windows for fine dining tapas. Cariblue restaurant is good for Mediterranean, seafood and lunchtime themed buffets. Of all the restaurants my favourite was the Pavilion Grill for a good atmosphere in the evenings on the boardwalk with the sound of the waves and delicious buffet cuisine. For lunch the Deli was my preferred option with delicious salads, wraps and lots of detox juices. The super antioxidant (with banana, orange, blueberries, strawberries and fresh spinach) was yummy and try the ABC breakfast or protein shake for a pre-workout energy boost. If you’re not strong-willed and you want to detox, be careful of the included wines, champagnes and tempting desserts. However, for the amount of exercise and activities I was doing, I opted for a few treats; I was on holiday after all.
Asides from all the activities, therapies and beautiful surroundings, make sure to try some of the adventure tours, from snorkelling trips to the Pitons, to extreme mountain biking and the Gros Piton Climb, along with diving trips and sunset cruises.
I was on holiday solo but I never felt alone with the option of communal tables for dinner and good evening entertainment at the Clubhouse every night; the live bands were a highlight with a great atmosphere, delicious cocktails and many people happy to take to the dance floor. There is friendliness everywhere, I was always greeted with a smile (staff and happy guests) and I felt very welcome. Many guests return every year which is a great testament to how good this healthy holiday is.