Leaving behind the more embellished design style of the 375-room hotel—which sits like a palatial Grande Dame on pristine Seven Mile Beach—I’m immediately enveloped by the shimmering, silvery entry area. Here is where opulence meets Caribbean spa. There’s a dramatic sculptural wall of faceted glass, and the sound of rushing water flowing under a translucent floor. As I walk up the wide steps of the expansive spa entrance, there’s a strong sense of arrival, and of leaving the outside world behind.
My appointment is on the last afternoon of a busy three-day meeting, and I can’t wait to unwind before getting ready for the final gala dinner at the hotel. Typically, I book massages when I travel and save my facials for when I’m at home. Today, I’ve made an exception, and plan to treat myself to a luxurious skin-enhancing session. Full disclosure: I’m a huge fan of facials, which have helped keep my skin in remarkably good shape over the years.
Initially, the spa’s monochromatic, Euro-luxe environment feels at odds with its Caribbean setting; but contrasting textures, spatial serenity, and attentive, friendly service quickly envelop me in a happy cloud of me-time. Encompassing 20,000 square feet and 17 treatment rooms, the spa space is an oasis of pampering. The women’s spacious locker room is a sanctuary unto itself, with plush sofas, endless fluffy white towels and a serenely lovely attendant (in a color-coordinated uniform) ready to assist with every need.
Showered, robed and ready for my one-hour signature facial with a collagen add-on, I’m greeted by my esthetician, Marieke, and led upstairs to a treatment room. After getting comfy on the heated massage table, I request that extractions be part of my treatment. I’ve found extractions to be the only way to thoroughly clean my pores and remove the tiny blackheads that accumulate around my nose, chin, cheeks and other areas—but only if the process is done correctly.
After examining my skin under magnified light, Marieke chooses products appropriate to my skin’s individual needs and proceeds to cleanse, steam, exfoliate, extract, massage and moisturize my face. Her extractions, done with thin cotton-covered fingers, deftly target problem areas and last about ten minutes. The extractions do not leave any redness or marks. Marieke also applies an exfoliating scrub to my arms and hands, wipes off the scrub with a warm wet towel, moisturizes, and tucks my arms into a heavy, heated wrap. I become so drowsy with relaxation that I drift off into a light sleep.
When I awake, the final collagen treatment has been applied and my glowing skin feels baby-soft. It looks slightly luminous and very clean. As I dress for dinner that evening, I decide to forgo putting any makeup on my face. Not only do I want to give those tony products time to soak into my skin, but my dewy, clear complexion doesn’t need any cover-ups.
The impressive results of my facial continue throughout the next day, during my journey back to New England from my Caribbean spa oasis. My skin has lost some of its dewiness overnight, but does not appear to get as de-hydrated as usual from air travel, and retains a clean glow. I feel great about the spa experience, and committed to keeping up with facials at home.
Always ready for her next travel adventure, veteran writer and lifelong wellness advocate Regina Baraban is the founding editor of www.generationsgo.com, a digital magazine about boomer + millennial modern family travel. A level two Reiki healer, she holds an MA in publishing studies from New York University, is the co-author of Successful Restaurant Design (John Wiley & Sons, Third Edition, 2010), is content editor for The Music Hall in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and is a contributing writer for Prevue, MeetingsNet, and The Cook’s Cook. She was the founding editor of Hospitality Design magazine; “Best Dressed Restaurants” columnist for Metropolis magazine; and editor of Financial & Insurance Meetings magazine. Follow her on Twitter @GenGoTravel; Instagram at generationsgotravel, and Facebook at Generations Go Travel.
Images provided by The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman