Antigua: Blue Spa at Carlisle Bay Resort
Antigua's Carlisle Bay Resort is designed to seamlessly blend with the Caribbean's natural beauty. Situated along a secluded crescent of bronze sand edging a calm sweep of water, buildings here welcome the frangipani-and gardenia-scented breezes that flow between the shoreline and the forested hills rising behind the property. An African tulip tree blooms in a soft explosion of reds and oranges and hummingbirds flit amid tropical blossoms. It's a serene setting, ideal for a sublimely relaxing experience.
Many guests awaken their bodies with yoga, scheduled each morning at 9:15. The passage into peacefulness then leads down the Blue Spa's long entrance hall, flanked with plantation shutters and offering views of the lush tropical foliage. Celtic music plays quietly in the background as spa clients are escorted to the dressing area, where robes and slippers await. The resort's signature flower, an orchid, lies on top of rolled towels that are arranged just so for those who are about to visit the shower, sauna and plunge pool to initiate the stress-releasing process.
The six treatment rooms are upstairs, each with shaded windows that allow just the silhouettes of travelers palms edged in blue sky to show through. Nature is never very far at Carlisle Bay.
Before any treatment begins, guests are asked to select an aroma. Lying on a massage table face-up, eyes closed, they simply breathe while therapists dip four ribbons representing the elements (fire, earth, water and air) into four distinct combinations of fragrances and then waft them through the air. The correct aroma is simply the one that affords the greatest pleasure. These essential oils are incorporated into subsequent treatments and will relax, revive or nurture according to particular needs. Three inhalations and an acceptance of surrender, and the tailor-made therapy begins.
The Living Nature products used at the spa are 100-percent natural, and Blue Spa's menu includes Awe Tami, which translates as "Soul Food," a unique combination of body polish, mask and moisturizing. First, the body is cleansed and brought alive with a gentle body brush rolling over the skin. The next step is exfoliation with sea salts, followed by the application of warm honey and oils, which are sealed in the skin by a wrap and bundles of warmed towels. As the oils work their magic, the therapist works the pressure points of the head, neck and back. After a rinse, the final stage is a massage using the pre-selected essential oils. Inhale one, two, three times to fully awaken, and the treatment is complete.
In Blue's chill-out zone, therapists deliver their clients specially made tea -- perhaps a honey-sweetened mixture made with slices of ginger and freshly cut lemongrass. Stillness fills the air as you sink into serenity.
Blue Spa at Carlisle Bay: 268-484-0025; carlislebay.com
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication