The lowdown “Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it,” said artist Salvador Dali. Well, Mr Dali, you’re wrong. Hotelier Andrew Barnard has achieved perfection on the northern tip of sunny St Lucia, and perfection looks like white sand, clear blue Caribbean sea and a spa with a treatment list that will make you drool just reading it.
The BodyHoliday is a 154-room all-inclusive resort with everything you could ever need for a truly special break within its 42 beautifully manicured acres. If the words ‘all-inclusive’ and ‘resort’ are ringing alarm bells, fear not – you won’t find reps trying to sell pricey extras or forced fun on glass-bottomed boats here - this is all inclusive for grown ups. Feeling energetic? There is a vast array of activities on offer to get your heart pumping, from tennis and volleyball to all manner of water sports, including kayaking, wake boarding and tubing. For those really serious about exercise, it’s worth booking in for the Well Fit Retreat. Run by Olympic champion Daley Thompson with the help of Kate Staples (you’ll remember her as Zodiac from Gladiators) - you’ll experience physical training on a whole different level. With intense cardio sessions in the already-hot early morning sunshine, it’s not for the faint hearted (the warm up alone nearly finished me off), but you’re guaranteed to arrive back home fighting fit, without the need to shift the usual post-holiday pounds.
Sound a bit too much like hard work? The genius of The BodyHoliday is that it can be as madly active or blissfully relaxing as you like – you set your own pace here.
If your goal is to unwind and de-stress, the daily 50-minute body treatments included in your stay will get you well on the way. Once you’ve discovered the Wellness Centre though, you’ll find it hard to leave. An oasis of calm and serenity set away from the main hotel, there’s a huge menu of well thought-out treatments, from reflexology (book in with Billie – she has truly healing hands), to traditional body massages and Caci facials, to Indian-inspired Ayurvedic treatments (the four-handed Synchronised Abyyanga massage is heaven).
The rooms range from fairly small and basic to seriously impressive (the Penthouse Suite comes complete with spectacular ocean view and a private Hammam!) Whatever your budget, you’ll find the beds huge and incredibly comfortable, and the bathrooms generously stocked with Ren minis. All rooms are air conditioned and come with iPod docking stations as standard, and I loved the thoughtful touch of the fresh fruit welcome platter – devoured within minutes after a ten-hour journey from London.
Eating and drinking Foodies are spoilt for choice with four restaurants offering different vibes and dining options. Get dressed up and head to TAO to sample the award-winning Asian fusion food with a glass of champagne, or enjoy a less formal dinner beachside at the Cariblue Restaurant or buffet-style Clubhouse. Lunch at the Deli is a must – the guilt-free salads are delicious and the smoothies are to die for. Although healthy eating is gently encouraged (low fat options are helpfully pointed out on the menus for those keen on eating well) it’s also very possible to indulge – the extensive wine list is screaming out to be sampled, and the divine chocolate fondant desert on offer at TAO is the ultimate naughty but nice sweet treat.
Out and about St Lucia is to the Caribbean what Prince Harry is to the Royal Family – fun, relaxed, cool, and a little bit cheeky. It’s less about the in-your-face luxury of neighbouring Barbados and Martinique, but what the island lacks in five-star polish it makes up for with bags of personality. You feel the island’s character and rich history wherever you go, and the locals are super friendly – there’s no anti-tourist feeling here. Party people should head to the Gros Islet Street Party on a Friday night for the best of the local nightlife; only a ten-minute drive away, it feels a million miles from the peace and quiet of the resort, with music blaring from enormous speakers, hoards of locals catching up over bottles of the local Piton beer, and the street lined with grills selling delicious barbequed chicken, pork and seafood.
If you can prise yourself off the sun lounger during the day, it’s worth making a trip to see the famous towering Pitons in the south of St Lucia. Hire a boat, whiz down the west coast, taking in the beautiful coastline and views of the vast banana plantations as you go, and spend the afternoon snorkeling in the shadows of the dramatic volcanic landforms.
The details Kuoni (01306 747008; kuoni.co.uk) offer seven nights on an all-inclusive basis at The BodyHoliday in a luxury room, including flights with British Airways from Gatwick with group transfers to the resort. Prices for 1 April 2013 from £2,749 per person, based on two sharing. To book, please quote CL0046.
By Jess Tibbits