There are all-inclusive resorts and then there is the Body Holiday in St Lucia – a resort that attracts travelers seeking a break from real life with their slogan ‘give us your body for a week and we’ll give you back your mind‘. They have mastered this over the years by offering its guests a seemingly endless list of restorative treatments, activities & sports most of which are included like waterskiing, archery, golf, tennis, yoga (the list could go on forever) and a 60-minute spa treatment daily! All of this on one of the Caribbeans most beautiful island with its Pitons (Gros & Petit), chalk-coloured beaches and the warmest, calmest waters that let you jump right in.
While there are countless activities on offer throughout the day, the Body Holiday is not just for sports enthusiasts. There is no pressure to take part in anything, no one running around trying to get you to join a class or activity, everyone can just design their own personal journey to wellbeing whether this means laying on the beach soaking up the sun all day with a cocktail in hand or being active from sunrise to sunset, it is all up to the individual.
My husband and I are one of the restless types – we spent little time just relaxing at the beach but we did enjoy our daily swim and the occasional laydowns at one of the sun loungers where they come around with healthy snacks, trays of Pimms or smoothies. The sun loungers are also equipped with red flags, that you stick in the sand indicating that you are ready for a drink that will be whipped up for you in no time. I even saw a waiter go into the water with a tray of cocktails to serve guests that relaxed on one of the little floating islands (image above)!
The list of watersports that are included is very impressive, from water skiing, wake boarding & sailing sessions, introduction to scuba diving, kayaking, tubing sessions, open water swims, swimming lessons and paddle boarding that I discovered for myself. (More in-depth watersport sessions are supplementary). Also very popular is the weekly sunset cruise!
Experienced sailors have the opportunity to take out a Hobie Cat-16 for as long as they want. Something my husband did whenever there was a bit of a breeze.
There are also two pools on the property, the one in the image above being used for aqua fit twice a day. It is a little bit on the small side especially when it is filled with eager aqua fit fans bumping into each other while following the instructor’s demonstrations, which is ever so much fun to watch. Never the less they always seemed to have a great time.
Upon arrival, guests are given a booklet with a description and plan of the daily activities which are also written each day on to a chalkboard outside one of the restaurants. As mentioned it would take too long to list all of the activities (there are more than 170 treatments and 50 sports to choose from), but I hope the image above to the left gives you an idea of a normal day at the Body Holiday – I have not come across any other all-inclusive retreat that offers anything quite like it!
Food is inclusive as well, from ice-creams
to little treats, health drinks, smoothies, coffees, salads, wraps & grilled paninis at the open-air Deli that is open most of the day.
There are also four different restaurants (five if you include the deli) – Cariblue (image above) where guests gather for breakfast, lunch and dinner without the need to make a reservation, food changes daily, served in buffet style or a la carte depending on the day. There is also a communal dining table for guests travelling on their own who like to socialise and make friends during their stay.
The Pavilion is open for laid-back lunch and dinner offering different styles of food from buffet to a la carte and a nice selection of salads from which I chose from on most days, no reservation is needed here either. The Clubhouse also serves Afternoon tea on a three-tier stand that is filled with finger sandwiches, cakes & scones.
Their two fine dining restaurants are Cariblue Windows, which offers a tasting menu and Tao Restaurant that focuses on fusion cuisine. Tao is the better one of the two, in my opinion, having won an annual AAA Diamond Award it is a nice place to try out. Reservations are needed for both fine dining restaurants and are included in the all-inclusive deal (fine wines & a few extra dishes are listed as a paid option in all of the restaurants but there is plenty of choice even without them).
While I wouldn’t describe the Body Holiday as a foodie destination I found something I liked every day. The food also never got boring as it changed daily plus there was always the option to choose between four (five) different restaurants whichever mood we were in. There were healthy as well as plenty of gluten free options available but I found that the unhealthy, naughty options slightly outweighed the healthy ones. It would have been great to have one restaurant focusing entirely on healthy foods maybe something they will consider for the future.
Alcoholic beverages and wine is included but it is still worth visiting the wine salon which has a fantastic selection of fine wines that can be purchased for a special occasion (or of course, just like that ;-)). Complimentary, wine & cheese pairing are held in the clubhouse once a week but I highly recommend the wine tasting at the wine salon for a small fee. We did the old world versus new world tasting and had a lot of fun talking to the team and other guests. If you order a bottle of wine that evening then the wine tasting fee is deducted. One evening we went for a lovely 1998 Chateau Musar (from Lebanon) as recommended by Eugene – the excellent head sommelier. There were two other bars – one by the beach and the other the piano bar for pre and after dinner cocktails.
The resort is well looked after, stretching over a vast amount of grounds. It is not a design hotel nor does it pretend to be one. The rooms could do with some updating but what the Body Holiday excels in is the welcoming atmosphere from the moment you arrive, throughout the whole stay from the fun and attentive staff at the restaurants, the encouraging ‘Bodyguards’ as they call their instructors to the ground staff. We have spoken to guests that come back year after year and even twice or three times a year!
What I found incredible was that a 50-minute spa treatment a day is inclusive – from Elemis facials, aromatherapy, Thalasso Therapy to full body massages. There are lots of treatment rooms at the wellness centre as well as a gym & fitness studio.
The view from the entrance of the wellness centre, overlooking the pool below.
One of my favourite buildings was the treehouse – a great place for yoga, Qi Gong & meditation. We visited during the month of ‘Octobayoga’ that placed an emphasis on yoga activities, yogic foods with a special yoga presenter Doug Swenson who published several books on the topic. Natascha’s yoga classes were especially useful to me with sunrise & sunset session and plenty of practical tips in her ‘office yoga session’ on how to integrate yoga into everyday life at home – Natascha also teaches yoga in the Swiss Alps.
Right next to the treehouse is part of the wellfit trail that I assume most guests miss as it is so hidden. It is a different way of exercising, including monkey bars and a high rope treetop walkway.
The Wellfit Trail leads from the treehouse to the Meditation Temple that is surrounded by lush greenery, which is the setting for T’ai-Chi.
Body Holiday’s Coubaril Valley Golf Academy features a practice range that offers four practice holes while a full-time PGA professional is there to help guests improve their game. Beginners can join complimentary introduction lessons to golf while more experienced golfers can play at the nearby Saint Lucia Golf and Country Club.
Tennis can be played at Coubaril Valley Tennis Club and archery is on offer at the nearby archery range. Complimentary Introductory group lessons are available for both!
Our days typically started with an early morning walk. The walk to Mount Du Cap is particularly beautiful with stunning views over the island and resort below (images above). The walks range from beginners to advanced with the advanced ones being proper workouts, walking uphill most of the time.
Another beautiful walk is the very gentle walk to Pigeon Island that has been joined to the mainland by a sandy causeway. Fort Rodney on Pigeon Island, home to canons and other relics can be climbed as part of sunset yoga that was held up there once a week with amazing views of the Caribbean sea.
Sunsets were always a special occasion and whenever I did not take part in sunset activities I enjoyed them together with my husband from the beachside terrace of the clubhouse. During the ten day stay at the Body Holiday, I have pushed my body to the limit at times, become aware of my weaknesses and strengths, learned new meditation techniques, improved my gym & yoga practice while it also sparked my interest in unfamiliar sports that I have been introduced to. Has it given me back my mind ? It might well just have but it certainly gave me a few new tools to take back home with me!
Body Holiday All Inclusive Resort, West Indies, St. Lucia