Spas: Bliss in Barbados

Located in the parish of St. James, about five miles north of Bridgetown, the original Sandy Lane closed in 1998 for a three-year multi-million dollar renovation. Basically, they demolished everything and started from the palm trees up. The new owners from Ireland opened this 21st-century vacation extravaganza in 2001. There are 120 guest rooms and suites, spectacularly designed, with attention to detail and amenities few would have thought of – for instance, simply push a button to open or close the drapes.

The prices, of course, are in keeping with the luxury. Rooms range from $700 (all prices in U.S. dollars) a night during the low summer season to $2,400 during the Christmas, or festive, season; suites range from $1,200 to $4,800, or maybe you’d prefer the privacy of The Villa, a mere $8,000 a night in summer to $20,000 over Christmas holidays.

And just like Disneyland, there are underground walkways used by the 650 hotel staff so guests never see the mechanics of the operation – offices, engineering, pantries, even luggage delivery is all hidden from view. There are, of course, restaurants featuring five-star cuisine (there are 65 chefs), butiful beaches and 45 holes of championship golf designed by Tom Fazio, tennis courts, water sports and more.

The absolutely stunning 45,000-square-foot spa designed by the world-renown E’SPA company is an exclusive enclave of relaxation and health. It features 11 oversized treatment suites (each with its own shower and washroom), hydrotherapy and Jet Blitz (water pressure) room, steam room, ice cave (literally, an icy cool cave), relaxation-meditation room, hydrotherapy pool, exercise studio and personal training plus a health-conscious 60-seat Spa Café overlooking the 7,500 square feet of waterfalls and a swimming pool.

A cure for jetlag
I opted for the hotel’s one-and-a-quarter hour Jetlag Reviver Massage at $150, which the spa designed mainly for their overseas guests. This is a full aromatherapy body treatment designed to regulate your sleep and energy patterns.

Therapist Lisa asked me to choose various oils by scent – think sweet or savoury. Some oils and herbs are used for relaxation, some for revitalization. The therapist uses your choices during a full-body massage.

The therapist then skillfully massages the various pressure points throughout your body. The spa novice will be amazed to feel hidden knots and tensions magically disappear. The treatment is designed to unlock the body’s pressure points, especially head and neck, combined with a relaxing and stretching body massage. Think Shiatsu meets Swedish. Lisa connected with one pressure point just south of my larynx that seemed to release about 10 pounds of blocked pressure from my cranium. Pure magic.

The spa not only concentrates on mind and body therapies, ranging from Ayurvedic sessions and purifying treatments, it also features a full range of makeup and manicure sessions. For those who are into total self-indulgence, you can book a full-day program for $690, which includes your own private therapy room, relaxation lounge, personal outdoor garden whirlpool, catered lunch and a day of massage treatments.

You don’t have to stay at Sandy Lane to book a session or two at the spa, but guests do get first choice. Booking is mandatory because the spa is often filled all day.