“Wellness travel has grown 50 percent faster than vacation travel,” says Tammy Petersen, founder and president of Chicago-based Retreats Unlimited/Wellness Marketing Unlimited. It’s a trend that has not gone unnoticed among members of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), so the CTO has declared 2018 The Year of Wellness and Rejuvenation. Following are new packages, facilities, and programs at Caribbean resorts that will help travelers end their vacations in better shape than they were in when they started them.
Couples Tower Isle
The Oasis Spa at Jamaica’s Couples Tower Isle was already on Travel + Leisure‘s short list of the Caribbean’s best hotel spas, but now the flagship resort has taken that even further: It has opened eight Oasis Spa Villas whose guests may have unlimited spa services. “You can book all the back-to-back therapeutic massages, indulgent body treatments, signature facials, and couples manicures you’d like,” says Dean Sullivan, v.p. of sales and marketing, “and at absolutely no extra charge.” It would be hard to match this anywhere else in Caribbean—or beyond.
Villa guests get a custom-designed spa itinerary that is chosen in consultation with a spa concierge, and they may enjoy services in their villas as well as at the spa. They also get private roundtrip airport transfers from Montego Bay and personal in-villa check-in. At the same time, they have access to the larger resort’s sporting, entertainment, and dining facilities. Rates at press time start at $822 per night per couple; $5,755 per week. For more information, visit couples.com and couples.com/for-travel-agents.
Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort & Spa
Despite being a spoiled spa know-it-all (inevitable when you’ve been married 30 years to a sought-after massage therapist), I was amazed by the spa’s Touch America Premier Zero-Gravity Massage Table. Such comfort, width, flexibility—it was unlike any massage table that has ever cradled this sybaritic scribe. But then, the entire spa at the Jewel Grande, whose grand opening took place in late 2017, is remarkable. This is a 30,000-sq.-ft. high-tech marvel with 14 huge treatment rooms, a relaxation lounge, hydrotherapy pools, and, for good measure, some firsts: The Grande Spa has the only Himalayan Salt Therapy Lounge in the Caribbean and the only Gharieni Quartz therapy massage table in Jamaica. The latter is said to promote mental harmony, detoxification, and a boost in one’s immune system. For clients who seek alternative therapies, this 217-key all-suite (all butler service, too) resort is the place. From $394 per night, or $2,760 per week. For more information, visit jewelgrande.com and jewelresorts.com/travel-agents.
Zoëtry Montego Bay
This latest member of AMResorts’ wellness brand is so attuned to holistic philosophy that its buildings have themes such as Bamboo, Blue Mountain, and Wood & Water. Guests may start their stay with a complimentary 20-minute wellness experience or, better yet, a fitness consultation. The spa features gardens with a yoga area, spaces for meditation, indoor and outdoor massage cabins with showers, and a fitness center. Although the resort only has 49 suites, there are three a la carte restaurants (and en-suite dining) serving cuisine that uses locally grown ingredients, and the chefs smoothly accommodate guests who request vegan or gluten-free meals or any other sort of customization. The outdoor scene—e.g. the beach and pool—is peaceful, and perks such as the use of Club Mobay at the airport, transfers, free WiFi and worldwide phone calls, and the services of a trained butler all combine to make a vacation here relaxing and restorative, even if some guests push their bodies in the fitness center. From $607 per night; $4,250 per week. For more information, visit zoetryresorts.com.
Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino
One of the classics of Aruba’s Palm Beach, this Marriott offers guests a new Wellness Upgrade to augment the services already available at the spa and fitness center. The Wellness Upgrade includes a yoga mat, healthy snacks, Aruba Aloe products, and a Zen coloring book for focusing the mind on tranquil scenes. It costs $75 per stay, and rooms start at about $260 per night.
One of the classics of the Caribbean, Half Moon, has augmented its wellness offerings for 2018. Fern Tree Spa has sent its Jamaica Thai massage team to New York and Thailand for training, so they can offer guests a Thai Yoga Massage, Therapeutic Thai Massage, and/or Thai Medical Massage. (Traditional Thai massage does not use oils or lotions, and the recipient remains clothed during treatments.) Because healing vacations are on the rise, Fern Tree Spa now features oncology massages by therapists certified in this specialty, which uses mindful touch, comfort massage, acupressure, and other techniques. To promote “gut health,” the spa offers juice shots and organic herbal teas from its garden, and in November Half Moon will open a vegan cafe influenced by Rastafarian culinary culture. Meanwhile, guided meditation and personalized nutrition plans are now available year-round, as are 3-day rejuvenating sessions. From about $265 per night including tax; $1,850 per week. For more information, visit halfmoon.com.
Harbour Village Beach Club
A member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, Harbour Village Beach Club attracts a lot of divers, as Bonaire hotels tend to do. However, this summer a new offering will also attract guests who crave a wellness vacation. Working with Retreats Unlimited, Harbour Village will give guests the option of scuba diving or learning to dive, plus daily yoga classes, thus pairing adventure and serenity. The diving and yoga retreats are even customizable for couples in difficult mixed marriages—that is, one dives, the other doesn’t. All variations of this package include transfers, 7-night accommodations, breakfasts and lunches, two dinners on the beach, yoga twice a day for four days, and use of the non-motorized watersports gear. With two divers, rates start at $1,780 pp per week. Rates are the same if one guest is a diver and the other wants a Discover Scuba class. For a couple with one nondiver, the package is $1,695 per week. For more information, visit harbourvillage.com.
Park Hyatt St. Kitts
This ultra-luxury resort opened in late 2017 with the first and only Miraval Life-in-Balance Spa in the Caribbean. Unlike spas whose focus is on the massage or (say) facial at hand, Miraval, one of the most exclusive spa companies, also takes a broad, holistic/spiritual view that begins at the front desk: Upon entering, each guest is asked to choose one of four elements associated with St. Kitts—salt, basalt, sugar, or limestone—and then the guest receives an envelope explaining an association with that element (e.g. joy for sugar). The spa itself is an indoor-outdoor complex with palapa roofs, gardens, a sugar mill-like building for meditation, resting areas, and treatment rooms. All the couples rooms and one of the singles have private plunge pools, and most have private outdoor as well as indoor showers. Moreover, says ProTravel International travel agent Stephanie Durst (fyi, she’s also a Certified Elite Wellness Travel Specialist), Miraval offers “Vasudhara and private yoga and meditation for total wellness.” From $465 per night with tax and fees (less if the clients sign up for World of Hyatt); $3,245 per night. For more on my personal experience at this new Park Hyatt click here. For more information, visit stkitts.park.hyatt.com and hyatttravelagents.com.
Royalton Luxury Resorts
This brand has added a brand-new program called Royalton Fit to its All-in Luxury amenities. Royalton Fit consists of more than 120 fitness classes each week at every participating Royalton resort in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, and Mexico. Led by well-prepared trainers, the classes include cardio abs/beach abs, spinning, yoga (including sunrise sessions), Pilates, Zumba, Aqua-Fit, TRX training, kickboxing, tennis, and a 50-minute total workout called “Bootcamp/Beach Bootcamp.” For more information, visit royaltonresorts.com and royaltonresorts.com/royalton/travel-professionals.
For more information on wellness deals and programming in the Caribbean, click here.