For the past 9 days I have been involved in a discrete love affair with the eastern Caribbean island of Saint Lucia. Today it is time for us to go our separate ways, but like any love stricken person I am reliving the experience unwilling to let go.
Fly away to Saint Lucia and you will bask in dreamland from the moment you step foot onto this pint sized immaculate wonderland. Rated best honeymoon and destination wedding place in the world, it is often regarded as exclusive go-to for the honeymoon delighters. But this island packs more power in a punch then it’s over populated, mass marketed neighbors to the north. Are you planning a trip to the Caribbean? Head straight to Saint Lucia, the most naturally stunning island in the Caribbean. At least in my unbiased opinion.
Luscious plump rain forests cover the land, I am scanning the trees for a tyrannosaurs rex, for I have stepped into prestigious Jurassic territory. As wild as the prehistoric ages, this raw vast green land is juicy with rich vegetation, green bananas, mangos and cherries. The valley floor is coated in green banana tress; coconut machete choppers wait patiently on the roadside, and bright painted murals sit comfortable on each stucco building. It is as if someone took a giant crayon box and pulled out the primary colors to dot the steep hillside.
All of the locals have a beautiful subtle glow. I can’t tell if it is the humid east Caribbean heat or their inner beauty and bountiful cheerfulness beaming through. In fact, St Lucians are famous for their huge hearts and genuine nature. More than any other culture, they scream authenticity. There is no fake anything about Saint Lucia and its residents.
When visiting the island there are abundant types of accommodations to suite any traveler’s needs. Romantic, active, adventurous, spiritual, wellness, Saint Lucia has a pallet for everybody’s tricky taste buds. I explored my options in Rodney Bay, the northwest corner of the island, where the lifestyles of the rich and famous in Saint Lucia call home. Many of the islands top resorts are in this part of town due to the close proximity to everything, beach access, world-class restaurants and shopping. I wanted to make the most out of my trip so I stayed at a place that would allow me the freedom to experience “real” Saint Lucia. The island has an overdose of all-inclusive hotels, but sometimes a more authentic way to travel is to venture into a non-exclusive resort and really see how that unplanned magic happens.
At Bay Garden Beach Resort & Spa, a four-star luxury hotel, guests are welcomed into the resort immediately with open arms and open hearts. Feeling at home, not like a tourist, I see the staff go out of their way to make sure you are happy. The award-winning team is 100% Saint Lucian, and they put enormous effort into the details that make up a happy holiday. From the signature origami towels on the bed to the staff remembering you by first name, this place feels more like a social retreat center then a spa resort.
The property peaks out onto the world famous Reduit Beach, with exclusive access to this pristine two-mile coast. Active guests can do sunrise yoga on the beach, complementary water sports, or scuba diving. The resort is within walking distance to over 20 fancy food places but the Hi Tide Beachside restaurant on property is not to be taken lightly. The Master chef knows how to whip up a party to pop in your mouth. Try the fresh fish of the day, and always save room for dessert.
Of course a trip to paradise wouldn’t be complete without a little pampering. Bay Garden Beach Resort is connected to the unassuming La Mer Spa. The electric blue wall welcomes me as I walk into the friendly oasis which is balanced comfortably with the maple oak furniture. The woman at the front desk is beaming, as she gentle hands me a glass of water and warm tropical Caribbean tea. I am here for a day of pampered perfection. I asked the spa director what the signature service is and she has suggested I do the swedish massage, followed by the European facial and red clay chocolate wrap. I’m lead into the treatment room and I dive into the espresso-covered sheets as I let their cool touch fold over me.
Freda walks in and begins to give me gentle pushes in order to extract all of the tension from my body, starting with my feet. “You need to drink more water, your stomach is extremely stressed.” I don’t want to tell her that Saint Lucia and I have been in a gluttonous relationship, with all of the tantalizing local rum and fresh bakes. Bakes are a local delicacy, friend bread, resembling a mini doughnut, stuffed with salt fish. The most precious gift you can ever give to your mouth.
Although her comment jolts me back to reality, I recognize this is why I am here, to regroup, revitalize and rejuvenate myself. The best spa experiences are when the therapist knows what is wrong, and not only solves the problem areas but provides valuable information to keep the problems from coming back. Freda is a wellness guru when it comes to healing and being proactive.
She starts the facial and rubs my forehead with a cleanser pad. She quickly concludes that I have combination skin and she recommends I get more vitamin B +E in my diet. She declares, “Carrots will help.” She proceeds to share a secret local remedy for aging skin. “Take an avocado, mash it up, combine it with boiled carrots and some water.” Put the fruit paste on the face, an instant mask, that pushes aging lines away. Trumpets shout in my head, could it be I have just been given the secret fountain of Saint Lucian youth? They are notorious for their young buoyant skin. Sharing an intimate home remedy makes me feel as if I have been accepted into the cool club. As my therapist starts to exfoliate my skin the sea salt grinds and exfoliates into my skin.
I breathe into the exfoliation letting all of my life stress wash away. The sea salt is burning my skin; it feels like sand paper grinding into my pores. Freda, tells me it may hurt slightly but this is good pain, it is removing all toxins in your body. I settle into the uncomfortable experience understanding that it takes hard work to be beautiful. And if my skin looks anything like a soft, subtle Saint Lucian when I am done then it is oh so worth it. Freda tells me that pain is part of the process. But being kind and gentle is the balance. Freda tells me a common saying on Saint Lucia is “Who can’t hear, will feel.” As to say if you don’t listen you will feel the pain. It makes me think about my own life and where I am not listening. For example how much junk food and toxins I have ingested over the past few weeks. My body has been telling me to cut back on the processed foods, the sugar and caffeine, but my addictive tendencies have been winning these battles. However, as I sit in this treatment room, recognizing that I have clearly ignored my inner guide, the pain, toxins and poisons are flushing out of my system. And I feel it. He who does not hear will feel. And it all comes back around.
I slither out of the spa like a baked marshmallow. I recognize that wellness is not crash diet of the mind. It is a process, not a destination but a journey. Traveling to get a healthy dose of reality is what I needed to recognize that everything we need is within us. Being healthy is a choice and making conscious decisions at every point of the journey is what brings lasting happiness. Spas are a great resource and escape to remind you to pay attention to yourself!