BodyHoliday: a World Class Wellness Experience in St Lucia

Is your body crying out for a Caribbean retreat?
Is your body crying out for a Caribbean retreat? | Courtesy of BodyHoliday
Gethin Morgan

Content and CRM Executive

The mantra at this luxury wellness resort in St Lucia is “give us your body for a week, and we’ll give you back your mind.” Whether you find yourself inspired by the sales pitch or cringing at its sentimental kitsch, it’s fair to say that BodyHoliday delivers on its promise tenfold.

Today wellness is one of the most established buzzwords in travel. Every hotel, guesthouse and campsite is vying for a way to sell their package as food for the soul. It isn’t hard to argue that travel inherently offers a healthy dose of self care, but BodyHoliday is a rare case where the offer actually has substance. This place digs beyond surface level platitudes and helps you mine your own version of mindfulness, whatever that looks like.

The concept was ahead of its time. Owner Craig Barnard – son of Denis, who founded the family’s sister property, StolenTime – took inspiration from the lycra-clad fitness craze of ‘80s jazzercise to develop a resort concept that blends classic Caribbean luxury with a comprehensive mind-and-body wellness offering. It opened in 1988 and, while the world has since caught up on wellness, the hotel continues to be remarkably fresh and dynamic.

So what makes BodyHoliday such a temple for the human form? Well, there is a certain alchemy to the feel-good atmosphere that seems to seamlessly pump itself around the place like blood from a healthy heart.

BodyHoliday itself lies near the island’s northwestern tip in an area renowned for having some of the most luxurious resorts in St Lucia, but neighbors are impossible to imagine from the second you wind down the unassuming road from which the resort reveals itself.

It’s a truly secluded area, from sloping acres of tropical garden that seemingly conceal the hotel’s existence entirely, to the pristine sands of Cariblue, a crescent beach humble in size, though anything but in beauty. The waves lap gently, interrupted by occasional crashing swells, while the horizon stretches endlessly, only given perspective by the verdant silhouette of Pigeon Island jutting out to the south. Needless to say, the sunsets are spectacular.

So the stock bubbles nicely, but what are the ingredients that make this a genuinely authentic wellness recipe? Well, the body part of BodyHoliday can largely be broken down into two categories: activities and treatments.

There is nothing stopping you from spending all day chilling on the beach, but if the sand gives you itchy feet then a catalog of classes is ready to keep you fit and thoroughly entertained from 7am onwards. Inner peace can be found practicing tai-chi in Coubaril Valley or yoga on a seaside pontoon, while pulses can be raised during spin sessions, aqua fit or Caribbean dance.

Align your chakras with a view of the Caribbean Sea

If you’re looking to learn as well as burn, then join tennis, golf and archery masterclasses led by actual pros. Or if you’re simply looking for a good time, say hello to the watersports crew at their oceanfront hut. Grab a kayak or a paddleboard, take a snorkel to explore the nearby coral and learn how to captain a hobie cat sailing boat, or step it up a notch with high-speed tubing runs and water-ski sessions.

The magic of this extensive selection is that it’s all pre-organised and going ahead with or without you. There’s no stressing about crafting your own itinerary, or having to book ahead for everything on day one. Simply turn up to what you please. As our tai-chi instructor said, “don’t worry about things you can’t control, simply change the program”. If you sleep in and miss archery, join yoga and shoot arrows another day. It’s liberating. The island spirit. The choice is there, but what you choose doesn’t really matter at all.

Of course there are activities you need to book in advance – one-on-ones with tennis and golf pros, scuba courses and off-site excursions – but ultimately BodyHoliday is a blank canvas waiting to be painted free-form. One thing is certain – your masterpiece will not be completed without the Wellness Center.

There aren’t many places in the world that offer a wellness package as comprehensive and generous as BodyHoliday. That’s because wellness here is fully integrated into the staying experience, so you get a complimentary treatment every single day. There are supplementary extras too, but you needn’t stray off the free menu for a thorough daily pampering.

The center itself is a beautifully constructed complex standing proudly above the resort, overlooking its picturesque bay, and there’s a metaphor to be found within the steep climb towards its entrance – wellness takes work sometimes, after all.

The peaceful setting of the Wellness Center helps ease you gently into your treatment experience

Beyond the smiley reception desk is a haven of tranquility, rehabilitation and indulgence. Over 30 treatment rooms and a seemingly endless supply of expert practitioners await your knotted shoulders and aching legs. Choose from liberating full-body massages and enriching skin wraps, or pamper yourself with facials and foot rubs. If nirvana is what you’re after, head to the Ayurvedic Pavilion and book yourself in for some Synchronized Abhyanga. Expect to be lathered in warm oils and kneaded like a little ball of dough by not two but four rhythmically synchronized hands – talk about doubling down on luxury…

The center is also home to a gym, a dance studio and a thalassotherapy pool, not to mention relaxing spots to reflect, watering holes to rehydrate and a quaint outdoor pool to complement the resort’s other two. There’s science to delve into at the Skin Clinic – where many of the products used are made in-house – the infrared sauna and The Wellness Clinic, where you can book a free consultation with a doctor who combines modern technological science – think scans that reveal body composition – with more holistic Eastern approaches to wellbeing. Use this unique access to inform your wellness journey, whether you’re tackling a health issue, recovering from injury or simply looking to achieve maximum relaxation.

While the hero ingredients of BodyHoliday are body-based, there are plenty of other flavors to savor throughout your stay. Quite literally, in fact, thanks to the resort’s collection of eateries. At breakfast you can opt for the expansive – and extremely delicious – buffet at Cariblue Restaurant or head over to the dainty Wellness Cafe, serving up light dishes al fresco at breakfast and lunch. Whether you’re going for eggs benedict brekky or a West Indian lunchbox, every meal here is best washed down with a freshly made smoothie.

The beachfront Pavilion offers a small but tasty lunch menu, while lunch and dinner is also served at Cariblue. Evening eats are at their very best at the adjoining Cariblue Windows – an atmospheric open-kitchen restaurant serving five different themed tasting menus a week. Reserve a table and prepare to be surprised by the chef’s unique creations – this is not your usual resort fare.

If you’d rather know where you stand then get classy on the terrace restaurant TAO, an Asian fusion establishment with a vibe as sophisticated as its wine selection, which can be paired with anything from sushi to lamb rendang. Our tip – save space for the sumptuous chocolate fondant and a cheeky calypso coffee at the end of the night.

The resort holds a daily afternoon tea – sandwiches and sweet treats should see you through ‘til dinner – and the Piano Bar remains open until the evening’s final guest retires. Cocktails here, as well as at the all-day Clubhouse Bar, are as superbly concocted as you’d expect in the Caribbean.

Such an array of culinary treats contributes to the feel-good vibes, but food choices here don’t betray the wellness theme. You can eat healthily wherever you go, and can even work with the resort to develop an Eat Well Programme. The supplementary I-TAL Farm-to-Table Experience, meanwhile, is a lovely way to change the scenery. You’ll tour the gardens with one of the resort’s horticulturalists en route to a spectacular terrace shack overlooking the bay, where you’ll be served a delectable range of fresh veggie dishes made with onsite produce.

Mix up your dining routines by tucking into a delightful I-TAL lunch or dinner with a view

The joy of BodyHoliday is that it provides all of the ingredients for you to rustle up your own healing potion. Whether that’s a heady one or a purifying one is your choice. Spend all day sipping mojitos on the beach if you please, or enjoy a smoothie-slurping week of working actively on your body and mind.

In our case, it was an attempt to balance the two. Our arrival was met with tropical downpour – fortunately not a sign of things to come – but the welcome was warm thanks to a heartening ginger and turmeric shot, which cleverly settled the stomach after eight hours in the sky and a further two winding up St Lucia’s rustic roads. You can understand why helicopter transfers are offered from the airport.

From that reinvigorating sip onwards it was a tale of boundless joy and pure serenity. That first sight of our room, the giant bathtub taking center stage and the bottle of red crying out to be cracked open. Then there was sunrise on our balcony, looking out directly over the Caribbean Sea, our views only obscured by a solitary palm tree and the finches fluttering around it.

Luxury follows you to bed at BodyHoliday, especially at the oceanfront rooms, fit with a dreamy Caribbean balcony

We started one day embracing tai-chi by the pond, and another mastering our forehand with tennis expert Neil. Facials, foot rubs and the aforementioned two-person rhythmic massage all featured on the menu, as did paddles and paddleboards on sun-glazed afternoons. We kept hydrated with our complimentary BodyHoliday water bottles, but plenty of fruity cocktails and Piton Lager Beers were also consumed on laid-back sun loungers, while just about every foodie experience on offer was thoroughly enjoyed. It was peace and calm, fun and games, luxury and indulgence, all rolled into one big sweet and punchy Caribbean cocktail.

It would be remiss to talk about all this beachside luxe without reflecting on the human element of BodyHoliday. The staff are a truly special bunch. Top class service is so often imbued with tension and gravitas, but everyone here is allowed to have their own personality. They can smile and crack a joke. They’re laid-back but on top of everything. They remember your name and you’ll remember theirs. In fact, every interaction at BodyHoliday – be it with waiters, instructors, concierge or anyone else – is as relaxing and invigorating as any Abhyanga massage.

The smiling faces of staff members are a highlight of any stay at BodyHoliday

That is in no small part a reason for the most strikingly noticeable quirk of staying at BodyHoliday, which is that huge proportions of the guests are repeat customers. “Is this your first time at BodyHoliday?” is a common question among small-talking patrons, and we spoke to people who come on an annual basis, giving favorite staff members a big hug on arrival and inviting them to dinner. One particularly charming gang of regulars were staying here for just the nineteenth time.

That is about as emphatic a seal of approval as any hotelier could hope for. There’s no doubt that the marketing team can rest easy knowing that the steady stream of returners is unlikely to stop returning, but this is a resort that earns its stripes completely. It is luxury with a personal touch. Homely but unmistakably special. Relaxing. Reinvigorating. Good for the body, good for the heart, for the soul and the mind. Good for your smiling muscles and your sun tan. Perhaps the name BodyHoliday only scratches the surface after all.

What are you waiting for? Treat your mind and body to the getaway of a lifetime and book a stay at the BodyHoliday.

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