These five resorts offer fine wines and fabulous spas.
Spas and fine wine? An awkward mix if you’re really devoted to wellness and its Ayurvedic trappings, but despite the Buddhist decor at many Caribbean spas, most guests aren’t seeking enlightenment; they seek pampering. And not just in the spa, but at dinnertime, too, so we’ve picked five resorts whose spa services are equaled by their wine service. What would the Dalai Lama say? Well, he’s not your client.
belmond la samanna, st. martin
This rejuvenated classic offers French sophistication, English-speaking staffers, personal attention, a superior children’s camp ($75 for four hours), watersports, tennis, and a beach with such velvet sand that the pools seem redundant.
La Samanna’s spa is hardly the largest in the Caribbean, but it is one of the best, with Sisley and Pure Altitude products, open-air as well as indoor settings, and treatments that would restore a centenarian. The resort offers a superior fitness center and Pilates and yoga classes, too.
When your clients dine at one of La Samanna’s restaurants, they’ll find a wine list with 1,250 labels, so yes, they’ll probably find something worth drinking. The selection is large enough so that instead of listing “French Reds” or even “Bordeaux,” the menu breaks Bordeaux into Margaux, Pauillac, Haut-Medoc, etc.
All 83 guest units have white furnishings and balconies/terraces with ocean views. High season rates range from $851 (Deluxe Ocean View Room) to $4,320 (4-bedroom villa). Extras such as spa treatments and a private dinner with wine pairing can be reserved when booking. You should inquire about periodic incentives, promotions, and FAM rates for travel professionals.
radisson aruba resort, casino & spa
Talk about leaving no (hot) stone unturned, the 13,000-sq.-ft. Larimar Spa has nine treatment rooms, a beachside cabana, a hair and nail salon, an ocean-facing fitness center, and luxurious private locker rooms featuring eucalyptus steam rooms and plunge pools. Larimar’s new spa menu includes facials for both sexes, massages, Caribbean-themed treatments, and even treatments for children. On which subject, a kids’ club makes it easy for Mom and Dad to truly savor that couples’ massage.
The resort has 355 rooms and suites, including 32 oceanview suites. The 40 rooms and suites in the Plaza Club on floors 7 and 8 sport especially luxurious amenities, and guests there can use the Plaza Club Lounge, which offers luxury lounging, books, DVDs, complimentary continental breakfast, afternoon tea, and cocktail hour with hors d’oeuvres.
Warn Plaza Club clients to lay off the hors d’oeuvres, because Radisson’s Sunset Grille has won Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence 10 years in a row. The wine list’s nine Champagnes include a ‘95 Krug, and the menu moves on to a selection that’s particularly strong in California wines. Of course, clients dreaming of a 2004 Banfi Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Poggio All’Oro
will find it.
Rooms feature traditional furniture and subdued pastels. Garden Views start at $413 in high season. Do the perks justify the Plaza Club’s rates (from $864)? Depends how likely your clients are to use those perks; some might rather spend their money on the spa and dinners. Radisson offers agents periodic AMEX gift cards and other rewards, FAMs, and special rates for Aruba Certified Experts. To become an Aruba Certified Expert, visit edu.recommend.com.
cap maison, saint lucia
Although this boutique resort’s position on a bluff that’s close enough to Rodney Bay for quick trips into town, yet far enough for the luxury of seclusion, is hard to beat, that’s just part of what makes the place special. Four-acre Cap Maison looks like a Spanish village, but one with a private beach, pools, watersports, and a fitness center. The 50 guest units all have terraces, up-to-date electronics, and hand-painted tiles. Guests enjoy exclusive use of a 46-ft. yacht, and the staff arranges diving, snorkeling, hiking and birding trips.
The spa, with its single and couples’ treatment rooms (two with outdoor showers) and salon offers waxing and combo packages as well as massages (Swedish, shiatsu, reflexology), which are also available en-suite or in quiet spots alfresco. It also offers personalized yoga and meditation sessions. Sitting on the post-treatment verandah sipping herb infusions from the Zen garden is so relaxing, it’s a wonder anyone ever leaves.
The lure of lunch at the beachfront Naked Fisherman or dinner at The Cliff at Cap, probably helps. Butter-poached Caribbean lobster with mascarpone and gnocchi with Parmesan tuile, anyone? The vaulted wine cellar features 1,500 bottles of French, Chilean and California wines ranging from good ($40-$50) bottles to Chevalle Blancs and Chateaux Margaux ($370 to $3,000). Stay thirsty, my friend. The wine cellar also offers tours, tastings, and private dining. FYI, children’s menus are available, too. For food, not wine.
All accommodations include breakfast. At high-season, a 380-sq.-ft. Garden View and a 460-sq.-ft. jr. suite both start at $416.50 per couple, so the suite is sweet. Villa Suites start at $764, and there’s a tempting all-inclusive package ($765 in a jr. suite) as well as a Peak to Beach deal with Ladera Resort. Cap Maison offers some FAMs and agent rates.
le toiny, st. barth
Here’s why Relais & Chateaux member Le Toiny, although not on a beach, commands premium rates and rave reviews: For starters, it has just 15 guest units in freestanding cottages, each with a private entrance, pool, garden, terrace, and parking area, and a “Do Not Disturb” banner. We’re talking romance, folks.
Le Toiny also boasts internationally acclaimed restaurant Le Gaiac, a top-o’-the-world infinity pool, and staffers who know the hiking trails and snorkeling beaches, and who cheerfully arrange car rentals so guests can explore the island’s superb beaches, shops, clubs, and restaurants, because exploring is what St. Barth is all about.
Le Toiny’s spa is tiny, accommodating only 6-12 guests daily. However, the therapists are exceptional, as are the treatments (e.g. the Men’s Traditional Shave). Besides, this being a romantic hideaway, many guests prefer having the therapists make house calls.
The 300-bottle wine list is a who’s who of French wines, but it also includes some worthy non-Gauls, such as Opus One and a 2000 Ramos Pinto vintage port. Le Toiny attracts the sort of worldly guests who want to meet with the chef to personalize their wine selections, and he is glad to comply.
A high-season jr. suite costs $1,861, but candidly, clients who can afford Le Toiny might want to spring for a One Bedroom Villa Suite ($2,396); breakfast included. Although one child under 12 can stay free in the parents’ room, this place is more fun if Junior stays home with Grandma. Commissions are 10 percent, but promotions boost that to 12-15 percent. Agent rates, FAMs, and some comps are available.
parrot cay by COMO, turks & caicos
Jeremy Home-Phillips of Island Inns nailed it when he described Parrot Cay as “luxury with a Zen twist.” A private island resort near Providenciales, this COMO Hotels and Resorts property with 74 rooms, suites, and villas is for clients who appreciate Balinese furnishings, 3-mile beaches, tennis, Hobie-Cat sailing, diving, eco-touring, flats or deep-sea fishing, and enough exclusivity to lure celebs to the resort’s helicopter pad.
The other-worldly COMO Shambhala is the soul of Parrot Cay, a true oasis of serenity. Always on the top spas lists, Shambhala excels at beauty treatments and massages, of course, but there’s more: a private COMO Shambhala Sanctuary, an Ayurvedic consultant, acupuncture, yoga and Pilates classes, personal trainers, and wellness retreats.
With its selection of Chardonnays ranging from Sonoma-Cutrer to Batard-Montrachet and a Cabernet Sauvignon list that includes a 2003 Screaming Eagle, the wine list is especially strong on American and Australian labels. These wines pair well with the classic dishes at the Terrace Restaurant, but here’s where this story comes full circle: Parrot Cay also has a spa-culinary menu featuring dishes like spiced organic chicken with barley, green grape, endive, and walnut salad with tahini-yogurt sauce. Delicious with Pinot Noir.
Although winter rates start at about $500 for a 600-plus-sq.-ft. Terrace Room with a four-poster bed and an apartment-size bathroom, the $750 Garden View or the Ocean View ($900) is worth the upgrade. COMO Hotels and Resorts also offers FAMs and agent rates when possible.
Belmond La Samanna: (800) 957-6128; belmond.com/la-samanna-st-martin
Cap Maison: (800) 259-8017; capmaison.com; firstname.lastname@example.org (U.S. sales); email@example.com (Canada)
Le Toiny: (800) 680-0832; letoiny.com
Parrot Cay: (866) 388-0036; parrotcay.com or comohotels.com/parrotcay
Radisson Aruba Resort, Casino & Spa: (800) 333-3333; radisson.com/palm-beach-hotel-aw/aruaruba