It Takes a Village
Situated on the lower slopes of St. Lucia’s Petit Piton, The Rainforest Spa at The Jalousie Plantation Resort, Sugar Beach enchants guests with its idyllic location at the base of the popular UNESCO World Heritage Site. The spa is made up of charming tree house cabanas set above a winding stream. According to director of health and wellness Julia Leone, the spa was the brainchild of owner Roger Myers, who in a former life served as an accountant to The Rolling Stones. He first conceptualized a walkway through the rainforest so that guests might enjoy the lush vegetation that covered the lower slopes of the Piton and the babbling brook that would later lend its soundtrack to the spa.
Relying on architect Lane Pettigrew of LPA International to help him create the spa of his dreams, Myers enlisted the help of local Rastafarian builders and carpenters from the villages surrounding Jalousie, many with Caribbean-Indian ancestry. The end result is an enchanting nature-inspired getaway. “The entire area resembles a rustic village that incorporates all facets of Jalousie’s rich history—from the earliest Amerindian settlers 2,000 years ago, to the colonial plantation owners who built La Jalousie 300 years ago, and right up until present day,” says Leone. “The architecture reflects traditional Amerindian design and building techniques, while the structures themselves incorporate 300-year-old plantation ruins, including the original aqueduct and plantation dam.”
The spa’s island culture and setting also played a role in the development of the treatment menu, which highlights authentic ingredients from St. Lucia. Spa-goers can visit St. Lucia’s own volcanic sulphur springs as part of the spa’s Sulphur Seduction ($170, 3 hours). Following a scenic tour of the ancient and active volcano, guests are encouraged to bathe in the black waters of the sulphur springs. After, a therapist covers the body in mineral-rich sulphur mud, and guests are given time to bask in the sun while the mud dries. They are then escorted to the Piton waterfalls, where they shower off the mud. Upon returning to the spa, they are treated to a 20-minute back massage. Guests can also opt for other island-inspired treatments, such as the Sulphur & Lime ($100, 50 minutes) wrap or the Nourishing Chocolate Body Scrub ($100, 50 minutes), which uses 100 percent organic cocoa grown on St. Lucia.
In choosing the spa’s products, Leone looked for lines that weren’t readily available on the internet. She also chose professional lines with results-oriented reputations and that could provide strong company training and support. Hailing from South Africa, Environ, the spa’s skincare line, was also chosen with care and is used in a number of facials. For those looking for high-tech skincare services, the spa also offers a range of toning facials and body treatments that utilize a Computer Aided Cosmetology Instrument (CACI), originally created to treat Bell’s palsy and stroke victims. Other menu highlights include the Relaxing Royal Bamboo Massage ($150, 50 minutes), Raindrop Therapy ($175, 90 minutes), and Hot Candle Massage ($130, 60 minutes). With 16 employees on staff, the spa is able to accommodate up to 56 treatments in a day.
Not content to rely solely on the spa’s stunning setting, Leone is busy looking for ways in which she can improve the spa experience for guests. On her agenda are plans to add additional treatment rooms, especially for couples; open a training school to help maintain treatment quality; further develop the spa’s wet room; add an organic seaweed body line; incorporate new treatments that utilize lava shells; introduce spa cuisine; and add more nutrition and fitness programming. In the meantime, she and her staff are busy dealing with a variety of challenges presented by the spa’s unique locale, such as the numerous stairs, which are slippery when wet; critters who like to make their home in the forest; and the general upkeep involved in maintaining a rainforest-based spa. Fortunately, there are no complaints, as guests discover it’s Piton pampering at its best.