Peace & Love to You My Friends
By Nancy Hellmrich
“This time, it’s going to take more than a manicure and a massage,” Lisa said when she called from her home in California. Her timing was perfect. My husband, Marcus, and I were emerging from another brutal Colorado winter. June had finally arrived but the snow was refusing to melt. When Marcus heard me talking with Lisa, he knew what to expect.
Lisa and I have been friends for ages. In high school, she was in cheerleading and student government, I was a bookish type who rowed crew. Despite our differences we became college roommates and good friends. After graduation, Lisa climbed the corporate ladder to an enviable position with a company outside of Los Angeles. I built a career as a writer in New York, Boston, and Denver. Through it all, we always found time for the occasional girls’ getaway.
This time, the sale of a division had put Lisa through the wringer and she was thinking Hawaii. “Someplace tropical, where I can sit on the beach with a book,” she said. But we’d already done Maui and my passport was getting itchy so I pushed for someplace new. Lisa’s travel consultant suggested the adults-only BodyHoliday in St. Lucia. “Give us your body for a week,” they say, “and we’ll give you back your mind.” With included spa treatments and beachside beverage service, it sounded ideal.
One complimentary spa treatment had been penciled in for each day
After landing at the airport on the south end of St. Lucia, we met our driver for the 90-minute ride past banana, mango, and cacao plantations to Gros Islet in the north. In reception, we were welcomed with cool drinks, keys to our rooms, an activities brochure, and a Week-at-a-Glance®-style schedule with gaping blanks for every hour of the day. One complimentary spa treatment had been booked for each day. Otherwise, the boxes were ours to fill in, or not, as we wished.
The BodyHoliday is laid out in a private cove overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Lisa and I had sea-view rooms at one end of the cove. From our balconies, we could see the penthouse suite on the opposite side, where a musician famous for stints in rehab was staying. Between us, there was a white-sand beach, two swimming pools, three restaurants, 42-acres of gardens, and a stone staircase that climbed a steep hill to the Wellness Centre, a resort within the resort with soft, pink Moorish arches, airy passageways, a deep blue lap pool, gym, yoga studio, and treatment rooms.
Lisa and I started our rehab with cocktails in the piano lounge where we perused the activities list. It offered pro sessions in fitness, tennis, golf, archery, and fencing. Group classes in yoga, Pilates, and Tai Chi. Diving, sailing, windsurfing, and oodles of island adventures. The more we talked, the more we warmed to the idea of leaving our books in our rooms. Then a striking gentleman introduced himself as Stan. He explained that he was a “bodyguard” who worked for the resort and asked if we might be interested in joining a few others at a table for dinner. Flattered, and curious, we agreed.
From that first night, it was sheer torture tearing ourselves away
A few hours later, we found ourselves dining on French-infused Caribbean fare and laughing with new international friends. There was an English banker recovering from a breakup, a soft-spoken British manager, a wickedly funny Scottish restaurateur, a Middle East security specialist, a free spirit from South Florida, and a Canadian psychologist with a weakness for white linen. All were successful professionals. Save for the psychologist, all were women. And the accents were delicious. From that first night it was sheer torture tearing ourselves away to go back to our rooms to sleep.
Each morning, we met for coffee and proteins then dove into our activities. Lisa took a golf lesson. I played volleyball. We rode bikes to Pigeon Island and spin class to exhaustion, toured a cocoa plantation, and sipped rum cocktails as we sailed to Soufrière. When the psychologist raved about the resident guru (Magnifique!) several of us tried yoga.
I was one with the hot stones on my Chakra zones
After all the excitement, our spa treatments felt well earned. I savored the Lime & Ginger Scrub, was one with the hot stones on my Chakra zones, and let loose in hydrotherapy. Lisa recouped with the hydrating body wrap, Serenity Massage, and Indian Head Oil treatment, in which warm oil streams from a teapot onto the center of your forehead. On the day of our outdoor Coconut & Spice Chair Massages, we lost track of time and had to sprint up the stairs, arriving at the gazebo in the nick of time with lungs and leg muscles burning.
Late afternoon, the bodyguards would gather players for beach volleyball. Then we’d race back to our rooms to shower and change for dinner and regroup with our friends. The banker was getting her groove back. The security specialist glowed. The Canadian oozed calm. And the Scot issued hilarious reviews that had us all in stitches. After dinner, the nights would light up with hypnotic steel drum music, themed events, and carefree dancing. On trivia night, our flock handily won but only after the psychologist did 40 push ups (“press ups” if you’re English) as penance for helping.
On departure day, relaxed and refreshed, Lisa and I hugged our new friends goodbye and decided to take the helicopter back to the airport. As we lifted off, the cool, capable pilot echoed our sentiments beautifully when he signaled our departure to ground control with a warm, “Peace and love to you my friends.”
ENSEMBLE TRAVEL GROUP is an international consortium of travel agencies. This article was written for the organization’s Ensemble Lifestyles magazine.