Travel Notebook

Dreamy Wellness Retreats 

August 5th, 2019

When the long days catch up with me, I’ll find myself daydreaming of lavish spa treatments and yoga sessions on a white-sand beach – the perfect antidote to the busy life that has become so commonplace for many of us. Among my favorite spots for rejuvenating retreats is the perfectly positioned spa at Curtain Bluff in Antigua. You walk down a winding path, past the tennis courts and a tranquil lily pond, to a spacious spa that feels like a world unto itself. Each of the four treatment rooms boasts expansive views over the water toward islands in the distance. I sit outside, gentle trade winds caressing my skin, and sip a cup of tea brewed from herbs from the spa garden. Seeing, hearing and somehow even feeling the sea make for a sublime spa experience every time I visit. 

Read on for a glimpse of the many mind- and body-nourishing wellness amenities of our Rebecca Recommends partners, from Nepal to Sri Lanka (including Cape Weligama’s new spa, which I can’t wait to visit). We hope there’s plenty of “you time” in the months ahead and that these words inspire you to craft the perfect wellness retreats for your clients.

Good Karma at Dwarika’s Resort

Dwarikas Resort Crystal healing room
Sit back and let your body soak in the Himalayan salt crystals at the crystal room at Dwarika’s Resort, Dhulikhel

I feel almost immediately at peace when I arrive in Nepal, and perhaps no place more so than at Dwarika’s Resort in Dhulikhel. I often begin my stay with the spa’s excellent Nasya sinus treatment – wonderful pre- or post-long-haul flight to revitalize one’s prana, or life force – and I’m sure to have one (or more!) Himalayan trekker’s massages after long days in the mountains. The spa menu is reflective of the resort’s commitment to personal well-being – both inside and out – including such treatments as healing Himalayan salt therapy, set in a room with walls made of rock salt, where you sit sipping a drink and allowing your body to soak in the salts. There’s also the crystal room, with a similar principle to the salt room, but with crystals – very reenergizing. Perhaps you’ll try a calming Shiro-Abhyanga head massage or a customized Mukha-Lepa herbal facial – you really can’t go wrong! 

Reconnecting with nature, and our inner selves. 

When I’m not ensconced in the heavenly spa, I’m found out and about at the resort, partaking in the many available activities. According to Himalayan philosophy, our actions, activities and thoughts are our karma and they influence our health, happiness and well-being. Therefore, the resort lifestyle embraces a range of activities that engage us on the physical, imaginative, knowledgeable and spiritual levels, asking guests to explore the connection between nature, body, mind and soul. When I’m not out trekking, I can choose from pottery, art and painting classes, cooking lessons, farm lunches and spiritual counseling with an astrologer. 

Spa Treatments Straight from the Garden

Middlethorpe garden alcove
Start your wellness retreat with a stroll through Middlethorpe Hall’s historic gardens.

Set within 20 acres of award-winning gardens and parkland, Middlethorpe Health & Beauty Spa feels worlds away from the everyday. It is situated opposite the Grade II* listed Middlethorpe Hall, in a subtly extended pair of Edwardian Cottages. Guests have access to a large indoor swimming pool, spa bath, steam room, sauna, gymnasium and club room where drinks and delicious meals are served.

The historic gardens at Middlethorpe Hall were restored in the 1980s to suggest something of their original formality and are today renowned for their herbaceous borders, which boast roses, peonies, irises and many more fragrant flowers. Start your spa day with a relaxing stroll through the resplendent gardens, then move inside for the signature Yorkshire Rose Garden Ritual. The experts at Aromatherapy Associates took their inspiration from the Hall’s award-winning gardens and heady scents and turned this into a comforting and restorative treatment. 

Middlethorpe hall and spa, York, England
Regenerative facials at Middlethorpe Spa will leave you radiant and glowing. 

Begin with a gentle body brush exfoliation, followed by a moisturizing treatment with evening primrose oil and shea butter. A regenerative facial follows, intended to nourish, soften and hydrate all skin types. Eight minutes later, you’re feeling radiant, soft and smooth, your spirits bright and uplifted. 

Why Traveling with “The Girls” Is Good for Your Health and Well-being

Curtain Bluff Spa, Antigua
Even the spa comes with terrific views of the Caribbean Sea at Curtain Bluff.

After spending a few days at Antigua’s Curtain Bluff, you can’t help but feel healthier all around. The magical combination of rest, sunlight, the natural beauty of the property, swimming in the warm Caribbean water and eating the fresh, locally sourced foods alter you both physically and mentally. A Wellness Concierge meets guests after they have settled in to help plan their stay. All dietary needs can be accommodated and practically all of the resort’s facilities and activities are included in your room rate.

Guests choose from a full menu of beauty and therapeutic services (consider this four-night spa-intensive package for your most sybaritic of clients). Nourishment is healthful with fresh menu choices at all meals, including fish caught by local fishermen and produce sourced from nearby farms.

Those seeking to rev their heart rate a bit will love the seaside fitness center, fully equipped and air-conditioned (of course), with personal training by Curtain Bluff’s resident trainer and a full range of classes, from yoga on an outdoor deck to water aerobics in the beachside pool. 

Tennis court
Private lessons and tennis retreats at one of the best tennis courts in Antigua.

Tennis lovers flock to the Curtain Bluff tennis center, one of the best in the islands, for its pro shop and four championship hard courts (all lit for nighttime play), just a lob shot from the sea. Four resident pros are available for clinics and private lessons and six-day tennis retreats are run by some of the biggest names in the game. 

Contact us and we’ll point you in the right direction to learn more about Curtain Bluff’s sun-splashed wellness retreats. (And stay tuned for a fall Travel Notebook post about my recent girls’ getaway to Curtain Bluff 

Serenity Now

Hartwell House Spa
A diverse range of treatments for both men and women awaits at Hartwell House & Spa

Sublime spa treatments are a given at Hartwell House & Spa, set within 90 acres of serene, secluded gardens and parkland. Within this stately Grade I listed home – now a 48-bedroom hotel – spa-goers may take advantage of a generously sized swimming pool, spa bath, steam room, sauna and a diverse menu of treatments. The experienced spa therapists are happy to suggest a personalized program of treatments – perhaps an aromatherapy massage, followed by a luxurious rose facial and ultimate pedicure. Men aren’t left out of the spa goodness here – among the several treatments available for them is the ultimate face and body treatment with a therapeutic Ayurvedic scalp massage. Intersperse your quiet spa moments with active walks and jogs along the estate’s trails, passing a number of statues that tell the story of Hartwell’s illustrious history, or tennis on two courts set within the former walled garden.

Indulge in an Ancestral Maya Ceremony

Maya wellness ceremony, Catherwood Travels
The ancient Maya wellness ceremony is a spiritual union between the earth and cosmos.

We can’t speak of spas without mentioning the ancient Maya ceremony that Catherwood Travels can arrange. This ancestral ritual is a tradition that has been preserved through the years through narrations of Mayan descendants, the preservation of Latin American culture and archaeological discoveries. 

These ceremonies are filled with symbolism that connects one with the universe, the elements of the earth and with the Mayan gods, to create a spiritual union between those of us here on Earth and the cosmos. The rituals can be held in many places, however, they are typically performed in the Yucatan region, the cradle of the Mayan culture. Catherwood Travels provides travelers with the opportunity to experience these ceremonies in mystical, natural and emblematic places, such as archaeological sites and sacred cenotes. 

Finding Sanctuary in Sri Lanka

 Signature Body Massage at the Sanctuary Spa is highly recommended.

For the discerning traveler seeking a bespoke wellness experience, the new Sanctuary Spa at Resplendent Ceylon’s Cape Weligama offers personalized treatments by exceptionally skilled therapists. Ceylon tea and Ceylon cinnamon – two native ingredients – are used liberally in the spa’s oils, scrubs and poultices. Beauty treatments utilize the Parisian luxury brand THÉMAÉ, which celebrates the health benefits of tea.

Amongst the spa’s body treatments, the Signature Body Massage is most recommended. The treatment combines therapeutic strokes performed with healing essential oil blends and the use of warm healing compresses in specific areas of the body. It also includes a facial pressure points massage and a head massage with nourishing, pure coconut oil.

The THÉMAÉ Signature Journey is a unique beauty and body treatment, which combines a full back massage and Quench Hydrating Facial. Guests are eased into relaxation through a  signature welcome ritual, treated to a relaxing scalp and back massage and indulged in an ultimate hydration facial, all topped off with an invigorating leg massage. All spa treatments may be carried out in the privacy of one’s room or at the Sanctuary Spa.