The rum shops of the Caribbean are not—I repeat, not—closed for the year, and no penalties will be imposed on anyone who just wants to lie on a beach. But every year the Caribbean Tourism Organization identifies a dominant trend (adventure, romance, etc.), and it has named 2018 The Year of Wellness and Rejuvenation in the Caribbean. A good idea, if you ask Tammy Petersen, president of Retreats Unlimited/Wellness Marketing Unlimited. “Wellness travel,” says Petersen, “has grown 50 percent faster than vacation travel.”
In keeping with this trend, new spas, fitness/health classes and activities, wellness packages, food offerings, and other innovations in wellness are popping up on virtually every island. “The options are virtually endless, from beachfront workouts and yoga retreats, to wellness resorts and spa treatments,” says CTO secretary general Hugh Riley. “The notion of being rejuvenated in the Caribbean is one more reason to let us pamper you in 2018.” Here’s a guide to some outstanding developments in pampering:
Iberostar Bavaro and Rose Hall
This brand has launched Fit & Fun, an exercise program with something for guests at every level of fitness. Although Iberostar has long offered beach volleyball, relay races, and dance classes at the beach, it now gives guests six additional options: 60-minute oceanfront yoga sessions with a bit of tai-chi and Pilates, 30-minute Aqua Fit classes, 3-mile running sessions, kickboxing that incorporates heavy bags and mitts, Zumba classes, 40-minute spinning classes, and a “bootcamp” that’s in a category of its own. Bootcamp, a 60-minute class that (so far) is only at Iberostar Rose Hall, burns 600-1,000 calories by incorporating TRX stretch bands, kickboxing, strength & conditioning, kettle bells, athletic conditioning, abs and cardio work. In short, you need not return home from this all-inclusive having put on weight—unless it’s muscle weight. From $267 per night per couple; $1,870 per week at Rose Hall. From about $220 per night; $1,530 per week at Bavaro Suites.
Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa
This fall the resort completed a $50 million renovation that made the resort more
eco-friendly and comfortable, and augmented services at its spa. The Hibiscus Spa now has a total lifestyle approach that encompasses mind, body and soul. All the skin care products are derived from organic plant extracts and oils, and new and creative approaches are used in the 13 treatment rooms. For example, the Ultimate Oxygen Facial boosts dull, dehydrated skin with the power of oxygen, healthy antioxidants and rich vitamins—and it promises instant results. And the Herbal Therapeutic Massage Ritual is a combination of deep tissue massage, gentle stretching, and warm herbal, anti-inflammatory poultices with natural herbs such as ginger, lemongrass, turmeric, and galangal. From $543 per night including tax, service, and $65 resort fee; $3,800 per week.
Roberta Long-Kelleher, luxury travel consultant with Protravel International, describes Saint Lucia’s BodyHoliday as “an amazing wellness resort in the Caribbean,” and she’s right. Moreover, in addition to its already busy schedule of themes (e.g. Spring Sail, September Solos, Octoba Yoga, Pre-Christmas Restorative Break), BodyHoliday has added five more retreats for 2018. Hosted at the resort’s new Villa Firefly, the new retreats are consistent with Ayurvedic medicine, which is based on the belief that health and wellness require a balance between the body, mind, and soul. The new retreats are: The Vedic Retreat, aimed at rejuvenating and rebalancing; a Cleanse & Detox Retreat, featuring manual lymphatic drainage, thalassotherapy, yoga, and other purifying agents; a Mindfulness Retreat whose goals include increased mental focus, regulated emotional reactivity, lower stress levels, and improved sleep; a Yoga Retreat featuring workshops in yogic philosophy and food classifications, as well as yoga itself; and a Weight Loss Retreat led by a nutritionist, an exercise physiologist, fitness specialists, and wellness chefs. Length of stay will vary depending upon which program clients choose; rates start at $550 per night pp, with a supplementary cost applied for individual retreats.
Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort
A new wellness offering in Aruba: In 2017 this 104-room, adults-only hideaway that’s often named as the best resort on the island introduced a wellness program so guests could design a multi-faceted wellness itinerary with the guidance of a wellness specialist. For this year, Bucuti & Tara has added a daily Healthy Hour and, perhaps more important, the resort’s first-ever complimentary organized wellness activities. The Healthy Hour features half-priced, nutrient-packed smoothies and mocktails with free snacks—healthy ones—at the SandBar. The new wellness activities include cooking demos, sunrise beach walks, tai chi on the beach, nutrition counseling, yoga/meditation, and guided circuit training. Rates start at $350 per night; $2,450 per week including breakfast, WiFi, and tax.
Paradisus Palma Real Golf & Spa Resort
This Dominican Republic all-inclusive in Bavaro is now partnering with NRG2GO, a company that matches resorts with trained fitness instructors. Through this program, Paradisus Palma Real is offering guests classes in Zumba, yoga, Aqua Fit, conditioning, and more, all led by these certified instructors. The resort has also debuted a new menu for its Oriental Garden at YHI Spa. Items are divided into five therapeutic categories to help guests accurately determine what’s best for them. The categories are Oriental Signature Massages, Detox, Soothing, Pain Reliever, and Invigorating therapies, and each of these categories includes five or six choices, many of them based upon traditional Asian remedies. From $380 per night; $2,660 per week.
Elite Island Resorts
This group of individualized hotels—they all offer all-inclusive stays, but there is no cookie-cutter look here—has introduced an assortment of wellness enhancements. St. James’s Club & Villas, on Antigua, boasts a new 3,700-sq.-ft. fitness center with a yoga pavilion (from $339 per night; $2,366 per week). Galley Bay Resort & Spa, also on that island, built a yoga and Pilates deck on the beach (from $557 per night; $3,900 per week). In Saint Lucia, the St. James’s Club Morgan Bay’s new fitness studio is offering Pilates, spinning and yoga classes, and the tennis court is sporting a new surface (from $310 per night; $2,170 per week). Moreover, both St. James’s Club Morgan Bay and the St. James’s Club & Villas on Antigua now offer floatfitCARIBBEAN aquabase classes—high-intensity interval training on floating mats—a first in the Caribbean. In a few months Galley Bay and Palm Island Resort (the latter closed from July 1-Aug. 31 for updates) will also provide aquabase classes. Speaking of which, Palm Island Resort, at the south end of the Grenadines, also has a new spa facility that’s right on the beach (from about $600 per night; $4,200 per week including the flight from Barbados).
Hiltons of the Caribbean have upped their wellness offerings, too. For example, the Hilton Barbados Resort, which has one of the best beaches on the island, has launched a butler program that guests can use to enhance their wellness activities. The butlers can prepare a guestroom with aromatherapy prior to arrival, schedule private sessions with a personal trainer (and not just in the fitness center, but on the beach), create playlists for workouts, work with the hotel restaurants to curate an alternative healthy menu based upon dietary requests, and arrange post-workout massages at the Eforea Spa. By the way, that spa has the Caribbean’s first quartz sand bed, an amenity in which guests can take a warm sand bath combined with a massage to relieve jet lag and treat pain and/or anxiety.
What makes Silversands Grenada noteworthy in this Year of Wellness and Rejuvenation is that it will open in March (the official opening is early summer of 2018) as an exceptionally restful boutique resort with an extraordinary spa. Not only will the spa of this high-end, 43-suite (and nine multi-bedroom villas) hotel have treatment rooms and a high-tech fitness center, but it will also feature a temperature-controlled pool and even a hammam. The cuisine at Silversands Grenada, a member of Leading Hotels of the World and the first new resort on Grand Anse Beach in 25 years, will feature organic, non-GMO produce grown locally by GRENROP (the Grenada Network of Rural Women Producers). It’s also worth noting that the main pool will be 330 ft. long, so this swimmer is looking forward to test-driving it. Introductory rates to this new resort (based upon availability) should last another few months, translating to a 30 percent savings, so a $900 per night room will start at $756 per night, including tax and service charge; about $5,300 per week.
For more Caribbean resorts implementing the wellness push, check out: Caribbean Resorts Roll Out New Wellness Programs on recommend.com.
Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort: bucuti.com
Elite Island Resorts: eliteislandresorts.com
Hiltons of the Caribbean: hiltoncaribbean.com
Iberostar Hotels & Resorts: iberostar.com
Paradisus Palma Real Golf & Spa Resort: melia.com
Silversands Grenada: silversandsgrenada.com/en
Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa: westingrandcayman.com