Roz Purcell tries The BodyHoliday - 'It's like landing on another planet'
The BodyHoliday is the Caribbean's most famous wellness escape. Here's how Roz Purcell got on...
I've followed The BodyHoliday online for a number of years, and often daydreamed about relaxing, dining on the beach and training in the sun.
What is it? The BodyHoliday is an all-inclusive wellness resort in St Lucia, in the Caribbean just north west of Barbados.
Based on a philosophy of relaxation, restorative beauty, exercise and diet, its tagline is 'Give us your body for a week and we'll give you back your mind.'
I wondered what it would be like to submerge myself in those surroundings, even just for a few days. This autumn, I finally decided to go.
How does a BodyHoliday work?
The resort opens year-round on St Lucia's Cariblue Beach.
Its full of activities - with three pools, five eateries and a luxury spa, along with its very own beach and water sports service.
In terms of fitness and nutrition, there is a choice of over 40 classes per day including yoga, beach fit, snorkelling, tennis, archery, water-skiing, and even table tennis. Some you need to book, others you just show up for.
Not to mention the really fun stuff like water-tubing!
The BodyHoliday hotel itself is adults-only - well, 16+ years only. Sorry Mums and Dads out there, but as a 28-year-old looking for an escape, this was a bonus.
How much does it cost?
The BodyHoliday itself cost me £378pp (€428) per night based on the best rate available. You can also book yoga and mindfulness retreat packages, and don't forget to check the 'promotions' tab on its website - with reductions of up to 45pc.
The resort is all-inclusive, which adds some value in that your food, drinks, activities and even spa treatments are all covered. So you know how much you’ve spent before you even get on the plane.
Several Irish tour operators - including Sunway, Tropical Sky and Hayes & Jarvis - do packages including flights. One seven-night, all-inclusive package starts from around €2,479pp next June, for example.
What's the resort itself like?
St. Lucia (above) itself is a hidden gem. The people are among the friendliest I have come across, the food is fresh and delicious, and you couldn’t ask for better weather.
Fun fact… it's also the only country to be named after a woman (Saint Lucia)!
At BodyHoliday, rooms are large with fantastic sea views. The spa was one of the most impressive I’ve ever been to. It is a temple-like structure on a hill just above the main resort area, with a large open courtyard and a pool surrounded by pillars, treatment rooms and breathtaking views of the beach.
One thing I noticed about the resort was that even though they were almost at capacity, it never seemed overly busy, meaning there was never a queue for the buffet, or a hustle for sun loungers.
In the evening after a day of activities, or lounging in the sun, the resort transforms. Live Caribbean music and al fresco dining means you’ll find it hard to slip away for an early night.
On my visit, there was a mix of guests, and quite a lot of people traveling alone who come back year after year to just get a break from work and socialise. The staff are incredible - not only friendly and fun to be around, but also really helpful and informative. In comparison to other resorts like this, they tend to leave you to your own devices, even at restaurants. Maybe it’s an Irish thing, but I like that.
It’s the perfect vacation destination for a couple, group of friends, or a single who wants to go on holiday to meet new people, I think.
And the food?
I want to say a quick word about the restaurants on site. The food was freshly prepared every day using local ingredients and caters for all preferences. They offer everything from traditional Caribbean dishes and homemade ice cream to light fresh salads and fruit.
When you try the fresh papaya and mango, you might not even want dessert! The Body Holiday also has a vegetable garden on site, and the Ital kitchen practices organic and sustainable cooking. Each morning there is a buffet offering a wide range of options, likewise at lunch.
Dinner is restaurant-style, and there is an all-day deli just off the beach, where you can order fresh smoothies, wraps, sushi and have a choice of homemade brownies, protein balls and banana bread- all inclusive.
It’s hard to say no.
What about the activities?
Before my trip, I got to personalise my daily activities. I opted to go for things we rarely get to do in the Irish weather - a favourite of mine was water volleyball, for example.
Each day there is a large board in the main lounge area with the daily classes available. Even with all of the activities, it’s still easy to make enough time for relaxation with daily massages and facials on offer. I felt a really deep sense of relaxation.
The hotel also offers excursions to many of St. Lucia’s sights like Marigot Bay, the mineral baths, and Mourne Fortune, as well as offering whale and dolphin watching and a sunset cruise - so you can make the most of your visit to the island.
Any other tips?
Unlike many resorts, there is no radio or TV in the rooms! Also, being a bit of a social media addict, the fact that there was only Wi-Fi in the rooms, and not across the resort, made me a little anxious at first.
However, I have to say I didn't miss the TV and, my God did I need a mini digital detox throughout the day... not having Wi-Fi while out and about made my enjoy the activities without distraction and remember I was on holiday!
One other thing. I made a few friends there... animal ones called tree frogs who sang me to sleep (ha ha!). Lucky for them, I was wrecked after the activities - so I would sleep through anything. But if you’re a light sleeper, pack some earplugs!
How can I get there?
There are no direct flights from Ireland to St. Lucia.
The best way to travel is via London Gatwick; from there you can get to St. Lucia with British Airways (ba.com) or Virgin Atlantic (virginatlantic.com). Booked in advance, return flights can be in the region of €550.
The flight from London Gatwick to St. Lucia is just eight hours - not bad when it feels like you have landed on another planet, especially in autumn or winter. For package details, see 'How much does it cost' above.
Read more:Roz Purcell's Lanzarote: Six places to eat for your Little Black Book