Nestled among the private villas at the engaging Hôtel Le Toiny (St. Barth), the Serenity Spa Cottagemakes for an idyllic intermission from everyday life.The beguiling bungalow offers views of the ocean and is surrounded by lush vegetation that speaks to the island’s many healing ingredients. It is those ingredients, as well as others found on neighboring Caribbean islands, upon which the spa’s primary product line, Ligne St. Barth, relies. According to spa director Simao da Silva, the line, which is manufactured on the island, helps differentiate the spa from others. “We wanted to offer something that is destination oriented and reflects local fragrances and ingredients,” says da Silva.
Founded in 1983 by Birgit and Hervé Brin, Ligne St. Barth came about as a result of Birgit’s struggles with her skin. She eventually turned to Hervé, who knew much about the island’s healing power from his grandmother, Jeanne. His great-great-grandmother Honorine was renowned for her knowledge of tropical phytotherapy. Finding the islands to be a great source of skin-nurturing ingredients, Birgit and Hervé took their inherited knowledge and combined it with modern technology to create the Caribbean-based line.
One of its first successes was in the production of suncare products that incorporate the bright red seeds of the rare roucou shrub, which was originally used by the Arawak Indians. They used the ground seeds to cover their bodies to protect themselves from not only the sun but also mosquitoes and saltwater. Finding a strong concentration of vitamin A in the seeds, researchers proved it to be an ideal ingredient in which to base a number of suncare products, as vitamin A helps stimulate the production of melanin, thereby enhancing the skin’s natural defense mechanism. The company has partnered with the last remaining Indian community in the Caribbean to ensure supply of the roucou seeds.
Following the company’s success with its suncare line, it has since branched out to incorporate various other indigenous ingredients, such as aloe, melon, papaya, passionfruit, and pineapple. Guests at the Serenity Spa Cottage can treat themselves to the delicious-smelling products with a variety of Ligne St. Barth treatments. The most popular service on the menu is the St. Barth Harmony ($92, 30 minutes; $184, 60 minutes; $268, 90 minutes), a pampering body massage that conditions the skin with slightly warmed coconut oil, cold-pressed olive oil, or ivy gel and menthol. The soothing massage concludes with an application of body lotion fragranced with pure bourbon vanilla, lily, or the Caribbean tiare flower. A host of packages, named after St. Barth’s most frequented beaches, are also available for guests interested in experiencing a number of treatments in one day or over a series of days.
One of the spa’s main departures from using Ligne St. Barth is the gentlemen’s Traditional Shave ($64, 30 minutes), which relies on the renowned English product line Geo F. Trumper. What makes the treatment so unique is that it’s performed outside in a relaxing planters chair. Before the treatment begins, guests are served coffee or Ti Punch, a rum-based mixed drink popular in French-speaking Caribbean islands. They are also given an iPod with a selection of music from which to enjoy.
With three full-time therapists on staff, the spa is able to accommodate six to 12 guests each day, depending on the number of scheduled couples’ treatments. According to da Silva, the spa also relies on a number of on-call therapists. However, he cites their availability as being one of his greatest challenges in managing the spa.
While there are hopes to expand the spa in the future, the existing cottage complements the privacy so revered by guests at Le Toiny. It’s akin to having a spa of one’s own. If the enchanting and intimate setting isn’t enough to charm St. Barth’s sophisticated spa-goers, then the enticing local products and treatments certainly will.