The big trip

BodyHoliday review: gain without pain in Saint Lucia

Enjoy a restorative retreat for mind and body at this joyful Caribbean resort

BodyHoliday’s all-day menu, written neatly on the blackboard, was extensive. Did I want something that would set me up for the day, or to return for more later? Al fresco or inside? Sea, pool or garden view? Decisions, decisions – how to choose when I wanted to try everything? Eeny meeny, miny moe. Yoga here I go. Yoga? Yes, yoga. The menu was not for food but for exercise, and that day’s 30 or so classes also included t’ai chi, aqua fit, tennis, water skiing, pilates, spinning and archery, topped and tailed by yoga at sunrise and set.

The resort, in a beautiful cove surrounded by lush gardens, on the northern tip of Saint Lucia, was decades ahead of its time when it opened in 1988, and in some ways still is, having created an impossible-to-replicate model that is universally appealing.

When I visited, there was such a good mix of singles, couples and groups; of people who were gay, straight, neither, or perhaps both; of those who came for the sports, those who came for the sea and sand, and those who came because they wanted a healthy mix of everything, that we all felt as if we belonged. The only people missing were children – the resort has a minimum age of 16 during high season, and 12 during low.

The philosophy 

Though its wellness philosophy is founded on four principles – diet, exercise, relaxation and restorative beauty – what makes BodyHoliday irresistible is a fifth, intangible component, and that is… joy. Being there is tremendous fun, which makes it easy for people to relax, revive, repair and rejuvenate in whatever way suits them. 

“Nearly 40 years on, we still hold firm to our original pledge,” says Yhasmine Remy-Hylton, the resort’s general manager. “Our motto is ‘give us your body for a week, and we’ll give you back your mind,’ but in truth, we take a fully integrative approach to wellness that includes providing lots of opportunities for our visitors to enjoy themselves, to socialise and to unwind. We never forget that people come here for a holiday, so we have no musts or shoulds and no restrictions on alcohol or dessert consumption.”  

The resort and beach at BodyHoliday, Saint Lucia

Many of the guests at BodyHoliday have returned multiple times

SunSwept Resorts

BodyHoliday does what it does so well that guests come back time after time after time. In my few days there, I met people who had been 30 times – and others who already had two more holidays booked in to look forward to. I was very tempted to join them, having been delighted by all that BodyHoliday offers.

The activities

Each day, I did three or so activities, swerving high-intensity classes, spinning and anything that involved being put through my paces by an Olympian (swimmer Jazz Carlin and sprinter Jamie Baulch – both silver medallists – have been trainers there) – and opting instead for stretching, yoga, aqua-aerobics, off-property walks and raucous, graceless sea adventures such as tubing or paddleboarding. 

Beachfront workout class

A beachfront Caribbean Dance Fit class

BodyHoliday

All were expertly taught all and were part of the all-inclusive package – as was one daily, 50-minute spa treatment. The range of facials, body wraps, scrubs and massages I could have was extensive, but there were also more specialist therapies such as Ayurvedic and medically endorsed preventative treatments, acupuncture, osteopathy, reiki and non-invasive diagnostics at the BodyScience clinic that I could have enjoyed for a supplement.

The food

And so to the cuisine, which also provides beautifully for everyone. There are healthy choices that will fill your plate with all the colours of the rainbow, beach barbecues, Mediterranean-influenced lunches one day and spicy curries the next. There is subtle, delicately balanced Asian food at fine-dining restaurant Tao and a pop-up gourmet dining experience created by Nick Hebdich, executive head chef at London’s Mosiman’s Private Members Club, which marries Mosiman’s cuisine naturelle with the flavours of Saint Lucia. 

Cafe food

Relaxing views from the beachfront wellness cafe

BodyHoliday

My favourite dining experience, though, was at I-TAL, the resort’s vegan restaurant. Set in the resort’s organic garden, high above the hotel, I-TAL serves food that is prepared in front of guests, largely using produce picked from the garden. It comes at a supplement, but is an exceptional and educative experience, which gives diners the chance to learn something about the Rastafarian culture, in which I-TAL cuisine is rooted.

So how did I feel after just five days at the BodyHoliday? I felt as if I had found a new gear, one that was slower and more relaxed and infinitely more enjoyable. I saw that there really is gain without pain. In short, I had the best time. I gave them both my mind and my body, and sadly they gave them back. Next time I hope they’ll keep them both for a good while longer. 

Xenia Taliotis was a guest of BodyHoliday, where prices start from about £315 per person per night, all-inclusive (some activities at extra cost). Or British Airways Holidays offers seven nights at the resort, including economy flights from Gatwick, from £2,699pp

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