Why do we travel? Waking up to the sound of crashing waves, surrounded by rugged volcanic coastlines and thickets of palm trees, certainly has its perks. But it’s perhaps even more primal. Immersed in the new and the unexpected—it lifts our mood, clears our head, and renews a sense of optimism.
St Lucia deals in high-drama scenery. Lying between Martinique to the north and St Vincent to the south, it’s more mountainous and generous than its sister Caribbean Windward islands. Ringed in turquoise water and pale sand, it’s a place where honeymooners flock and families love, but it’s also home to BodyHoliday, one of the most impressive all-inclusive health and wellness resorts the world over.
When BodyHoliday first opened in 1988, the idea of a wellness resort was so novel the contractors building the 33-treatment-room spa thought they were constructing a second hotel. This was a time long before gong baths, hygge and self-actualizing workshops were part of our common parlance.
The original ambition was a hideaway for strung-out Baby Boomers to relax and rejuvenate. In the years since, it has grown into so much more. Today, guests arrive and are handed a custom itinerary and a phone-book-thick booklet outlining the more than 40 included daily classes and activities. Add to that, excluding arrival and departure days, every guest on the property is treated to a daily 50-minute spa treatment—from a menu of twelve (plus countless more specialized and high-tech treatments at an additional cost)—throughout their stay.
Many of the rooms have been renovated over the last few years, but remember, this isn’t the Maldives, so don’t expect sleek curves and glass-bottomed suites. The Caribbean has always been a destination that steers towards laid-back charm rather than opulence. With just 155 rooms in total, options range from Standard rooms with garden views (ideal for solo travellers) to larger Luxury rooms overlooking the ocean (or actually oceanfront), to Grand Luxury rooms, junior suites, suites, and four impeccable private villas—the main differentiators along the way being size and scenery.
Rooms are light-filled and airy, with large terraces offering the sounds of the sea as a wake up call. Inside, the soft furnishings are coastal-inspired creams, whites and powder blues, while the generously sized bathrooms are equipped with tubs, showers and delicious REN toiletries.
Set on a crescent-shaped beach surrounded by 32 acres of tropical gardens and three freshwater pools, guests are encouraged to recharge and reboot. The rooms are secondary to the amenities: the siren call of this resort. You stay at BodyHoliday (and then stay again) because of the infra-red sauna, the meditation, the fitness classes, the hikes, the golf, the tennis, the fencing, the archery, the water sports, and everything else in between.
The staff to guest ratio at BodyHoliday is practically three-to-one. And the team is laser-focused on helping the clientele form sustainable and long-lasting healthy habits. From Pilates to osteopathy, skin analysis to ayurvedic massage, breath-work to bootcamp, every facet of the mind, body, and soul is addressed.
And for those looking to make a palpable life shift, the BodyScience program offers guests a targeted itinerary created by a medical doctor and based on physiological indicators, such as heart rate, stress and hormone levels. This process often begins before the guest even arrives on the island, with the help of blood-samples and phone consultations.
Often resorts with a focus on health and wellbeing can be austere or exhaustingly worthy, but BodyHoliday is all about balance and guiding vacationers to make informed but realistic choices. Equally, it’s not hard to work-up an appetite, given all the activities on offer.
There is a sense of fun here. Once you’ve finished exploring the confetti-coloured fish in the ocean, test out the clever beach-front ordering system. Simply raise the flag lying next to your sun lounger and a staff member will appear, margarita in tow.
As for the restaurant's, there are buffets, beach barbecues, fine-dining, and a la carte—it’s all here. Tao serves a menu of East-meets-West, while elsewhere, with two nightly sittings, Cariblue Windows lays out a fine-dining tasting menu (with or without wine pairings) to be remembered. And during the day, between Cariblue; the Pavilion Grill; and the open-air Wellness Cafe, offering-up smoothies, juices and healthy wraps, it’s inconceivable to go hungry.
And for yet another shift of gear, refuel on a seasonal vegan menu of locally sourced ingredients (plucked from the neighbouring organic gardens), at the resort's I-Tal farm. A few minutes drive from the resort, overlooking the Coubaril Valley, experience a private dinner and watch as the sky turns from red to orange to pink.
But perhaps what’s most appealing about BodyHoliday is the flexibility. You can be a saint, doing downward dog and drinking ginger shots from sunrise to sunset; you can dance until the wee hours in the dimly lit piano bar; or any other combination thereof. You can do a lot of everything or a lot of nothing, and isn’t that precisely what a vacation is all about?
The all-inclusive rates cover meals, drinks, use of sports facilities, group classes, diving, water-skiing, fencing, a daily spa treatment and much more. The minimum guest age is 16. For pre- and post-travel Covid testing, visit Qured.