The holidays are over (whew). They seem to be meant to allow you to rest and recharge but often they’re the most stressful part of the year. Luckily, Luxury Travel Advisor has your back — and, with it, four suggestions for a Caribbean spa escape to help you actually rest and recharge. 

First up is the recently flagged Mandarin Oriental, Canouan. Despite taking over the Pink Sands Club on the island of Canouan in St. Vincent and the Grenadines at the end of 2017, Mandarin Oriental’s name was only added to the property in July 2018; however, it’s quickly garnered buzz in the industry. Martha Gaughen, the vice president and co-owner of Brownell Travel and one of our Trendsetters in December, recently returned from the hotel. She says Canouan “is going to be the new ‘it’ island in the Caribbean. The island itself is a hidden treasure, now that the island has new owners and amazing people who have taken over and turned it around.”

What’s more, the spa services offer a completely isolated experience. The spa is composed of several separate structures: A reception area, 10 individual palapa-style treatment rooms and a yoga pavilion overlooking the sea. Even the approach to the spa — a wooden walkway on the beach — helps guests feel a sense of calm even before enjoying their treatment. The spa offers an extensive range of treatments, facials and therapies, as well as ESPA products. The signature treatment is the Oriental Essence: Using custom-blended Oriental oils and movements inspired by traditional Oriental therapies, this tension-busting massage treats the whole body, focusing on the traditional stress-holding areas of the back, neck and shoulders. For couples, however, we’re told the Emerald Enchantment is the go-to. This head-to-toe wellness ritual is performed to the soothing sounds of the Caribbean Sea and includes a coconut- and ginger-infused body scrub, warm coconut oil infused with lavender, eucalyptus and ginger and concludes with a head massage. (Note: This treatment is also available for singles.)

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CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa’s infinity pool was recently refreshed in Caribbean style, with teak loungers and private cabanas.

For a full wellness experience, be sure to sign up for a private yoga session, either at the yoga pavilion or in the privacy of your suite. Good to know: If you so choose, spa treatments can also be arranged in-suite.

At the resort’s fitness center, Pilates equipment and instruction are available, and healthy menu options are offered at the resort’s dining venues.

Treatments can be booked with Sandra Hachinoche ([email protected]), spa director. 

For a romantic evening, we would opt for the Castaway dining experience: Guests can dine anywhere, including secluded beaches, hilltops or even a deserted island. Good to know: If traveling with the whole family, festive barbecues can also be arranged as part of the Castaway experience. 

At the venues themselves, we hear there isn’t a bad seat in the house, but for guests with a preference, advisors can reach out to Michelangelo Maroni ([email protected]), head of guest relations. 

Accommodation-wise, Mandarin Oriental, Canouan recently added seven contemporary two- and three-bedroom Italian-design Patio Villas (which are great for families). For couples, the One Bedroom Beachfront Suites or One Bedroom Oceanview Penthouse Suite may be a better option. Tip: All suites and villas at the resort offer dedicated butler service.

Mandarin Oriental, Canouan is a 10-minute drive from Canouan International Airport, which supports regular flights from Barbados (via SVG Airways and Canouan’s private jet), St. Lucia (via SVG Airways), Grenada (via SVG Airways) and St. Vincent (via SVG Airways and Canouan’s private jet).

Recently emerging from a transformation (completed in November 2018), CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa in Anguilla is another option for tranquility-seekers. In addition to its golfing and cuisine (obviously), we’re told the spa is a huge draw for guests visiting the resort. 

The 27,000-square-foot Spa by CuisinArt encompasses 16 treatment rooms, including a dedicated Men’s Club Room, hammams and wet rooms, plus couple’s and VIP suites with outdoor showers and terraces. We hear the new Heated Bamboo Massage has quickly become a fan favorite. This massage utilizes varying shapes and sizes of warm bamboo stalks to soothe tired and tense muscles, while promoting circulation and lymphatic drainage. The recently added Organic Ultimate Age Corrective Facial has also become popular, as it incorporates LED collagen stimulating therapy and clinically proven organic ingredients. 

Tip: The “VIP” Couple’s Suite Treat includes an herbal hydrotherapy soak, mineral salt scrub, couple’s massage and seasonal fruit and champagne in a private spa suite. Book treatments with spa director Catherine Phillips ([email protected]) at least one week in advance. 

Before leaving the spa, be sure to check out the Blend Bar. There, guests will find a finely set table with two types of salts, a variety of aromatic bath gels and essential oils, and fine herbs. The mission here? Create your custom body scrub or bath salt. All herbs are grown on property and are then dehydrated and ground down for spa treatments. The Blend Bar’s herb selection includes mint, rosemary, lavender, sweet marjoram, sage, thyme, lemongrass and basil — each offering a different benefit (for example, sweet marjoram relieves stress and anxiety, and helps with insomnia). 

Luxury Travel Advisor is a fan of the monthly workshops available at the Spa by CuisinArt, which focus on the “magic” of essential oils, detoxification, meditation and self-empowerment. 

New outdoor fitness activities have also been added, such as paddle-board yoga and an array of Aqua Fitness Classes, like kickboxing, aqua conditioning, in-water spin classes and more. The resort’s Fitness Center also added Technogym equipment and virtual spin classes with an on-screen instructor.

The Spa at Sanctuary Cap Cana offers a serene atmosphere, combining hydrotherapy and indigenous treatments.

Good to know: As part of CuisinArt’s property-wide renovations, following Hurricane Irma, the resort’s Mediterranean architecture was fully restored, while interiors were completely updated; the infinity pool was also refreshed in a chic Caribbean style, with teak loungers and private cabanas by SMANIA of Italy; and a new splash pad is welcoming of kids of all ages. For golfers, the Greg Norman Signature Design 18-Hole Championship Course (the only golf course on Anguilla) was fully restored.

Villas 1 through 4 are located nearest the spa; however, couples may be better suited in the Beachfront Junior Suites or Beachfront One Bedroom Suite. The chef concierge at CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa, Ena Boasman-Hodge ([email protected]), is a member of Les Clefs D’Or and is ready to assist with all your needs. Tip: The Villas by CuisinArt have their own villa manager, Jose Irizarry ([email protected]), who is available from pre-arrival to departure. 

Note: CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa closes annually from late August to late October.

Anguilla has a very small airport and flights are limited. For VIP guests, we recommend flying to San Juan and reserving scheduled flights on Tradewind Aviation. Hint: For the extra rock-star experience, it is well worth reserving Tradewind’s exclusive meet-and-greet service. Guests can also fly into St. Maarten and the concierge will reserve either private boat transfer or the semi-private boat launch on Funtime for the quick 30-minute boat trip to Anguilla. 

Also fresh off a multimillion-dollar renovation is the adults-only Sanctuary Cap Cana in the Dominican Republic, which reopens this month. 

As part of the “reimagining,” the all-inclusive resort updated all guestrooms, enhanced Zen public spaces and launched two new towers with 140 additional suites. We’re excited by the secret suites that can only be booked by on-site VIP concierge. Color schemes of blue, off-white, gold and black, and interiors of rich wood accents, tropical rattan furnishings and elegant coral bathrooms help make the resort an escape from life’s hubbub. The most-requested rooms, we’re told, are the Honeymoon Suite With Private Pool accommodations. Located in the Castle section, these rooms have a king bed, furnished living room and furnished terrace with direct access to a plunge pool. An added bonus: All rooms in the Castle are nearest the spa.

If you require butler service, be sure to book the Monarch Villa, the King & Queen Villa or Royalty Villa. Chief concierge Jennifer Velasquez ([email protected]) can help find the proper accommodations.

For those seeking a “sanctuary” for the senses, the Sanctuary Spa offers a serene atmosphere, combining hydrotherapy and indigenous treatments. For facials and massages, we hear therapists Mireya and Agustina are the picks. The most popular treatment is the Earth Connection, which includes a relaxing massage with pressure and techniques to relieve the tension in the muscles while promoting deep relaxation. For couples, Sanctuary Lovers, a 50-minute treatment, allows clients to pick their favorite massage and also includes a private Jacuzzi with aromatic salts, bubble bath, champagne and strawberry with chocolates. Treatments can be reserved up to two days in advance with spa manager Genesis Revilla ([email protected]). 

Additional wellness offerings at the resort include a new Zen Garden, an 18-foot magnum Selenite salt crystal in the lobby promoting positive energy, hydrotherapeutic pools, a new gym within the Castle section, holistic body rituals and body polishes and off-property excursions to the secluded Juanillo Beach for a relaxing day off the beaten path. 

Other off-property excursions that Velasquez can book includes tours of the underground tunnels at Iguabonita Cave, a zip line eco-adventure, trips to the sinkhole at Cenote Indigena Las Ondas or the cliff-surrounded lagoon, horseback riding and more. 

Half Moon’s Fern Tree Spa has 12 treatment rooms, including the overwater cabanas used for private massages and yoga. 

Celebrating its 65th anniversary this year is Half Moon in Montego Bay, Jamaica. What’s notable here? Half Moon touts its Fern Tree Spa as the largest spa in the Caribbean at 68,000 square feet. In total, there are 12 treatment rooms — but the kickers are the two overwater cabanas. Guests can also enjoy the private pools, tropical gardens and meditation labyrinth, a relaxation lounge, tea room, steam and sauna room, outdoor yoga pavilion and more.

We would suggest The Fern Tree Spa’s eponymous treatment, which includes a cerasee (a plant with medicinal and culinary uses) foot bath, a relaxing massage that uses healing techniques from around the world and a signature blend of allspice, ginger and orange. Infused body compresses and a rum body splash finish this massage. For a sampling of local healing — and another highly requested treatment — try the Jamaican Bush Bath, which is a bath steeped with fresh herbs, roots, leaves and fruits. 

The lowdown: Denesha Jackson, Sancia Wright-Gayle and Carl Dawkins are the most requested masseuses / estheticians. All three are recommended for the Personalized Therapeutic Massage; Sancia and Denesha are well-known for the Jamaican All Spice Body Scrub, the Island Hot Rocks Massage and Elemis facials, while Carl is recommended for the Thai Massage.

The good news is treatments can usually be booked the day-of, so long as the spa has at least four hours’ head’s up. Spa director Tanya Vassell ([email protected]) can handle any bookings or questions. 

Other wellness options at Half Moon include Pilates, guided meditation and outdoor yoga, which are all available for private sessions that can be enjoyed at one of the overwater bungalows or outside your suite or villa. Guests also have access to the fitness center, complete with a spinning studio. Looking for a unique activity? We wouldn’t miss swimming with horses at the resort’s equestrian center. Half Moon can also arrange golf and tennis lessons, scuba diving, horseback riding, Hobie Cat sailing and more.

What’s new at the 65-year-old property? We hear the just-opened Ital Café at Fern Tree Spa, serving raw cuisine cooked by the sun, is a naturist’s dream. This vegan eatery offers dairy-, meat- and gluten-free foods and beverages made with natural Jamaican ingredients. Menu options, such as ackee scramble with quinoa flaxseed crackers or jerk eggplant steak, provide no-cook, vegan twists to local favorites for a nutritionally optimal culinary experience.

The Jamaican Bush Bath, a bath steeped with fresh herbs, roots, leaves and fruits, is one of the popular treatments at the Spa.

In addition to Ital, Half Moon will be debuting six new restaurants and bars, ranging from an elegantly appointed seafood restaurant to a chic bar serving a wide selection of Caribbean rums.

We’re fond of the Prestige Ocean Suites, which have spacious living rooms and bedrooms; they also offer balconies or terraces and view of the Caribbean. As an added bonus, these rooms are also among the closest to the spa. Tip: The Rose Hall Villas by Half Moon offer private butler services. Advisors should contact Sharon Logan ([email protected]), director of sales and marketing, if they have any additional questions. 

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