Exotic Escape

Measuring Only 16 Miles Long And Three miles wide but chock-full of picturesque sandy beaches, pristine azure water, and a host of resorts, spas, and restaurants, the tiny island of Anguilla is proof that good things come in small packages. Located just north of St. Martin, this petite island gem has been the secret playground of the wealthy for years—elite travelers have managed to keep the sophisticated retreat under wraps by making their quiet escapes via boat or private plane. But the secret is out, as Anguilla is being discovered by travelers around the globe who are looking for laid-back relaxation, impeccable food, stunning beaches, gracious locals, and divine accommodations. So it should come as no surprise that luxurious spas featuring exotic island-inspired treatments are making their mark on this British West Indian isle.

Venus Spa

CuisinArt Resort & Spa is a Mediterranean-style bastion of gourmet cuisine, white sand, and decadent spa treatments. At the three-story 8,000-square-foot Venus Spa, guests can enjoy a bevy of treatments, ranging from aromatherapy, facials, massage, and reflexology to hydrotherapy, seaweed wraps, and sea salt and loofah scrubs, in one of the spa's five treatment rooms. Or they can partake in outdoor treatments on one of the two breezy terraces with an ocean view or on the beach in the spa's treatment tent. Manicures, pedicures, and hairstyling services are available in the Rusk salon.

The Anguillan Massage ($130, 50 minutes), which combines several modalities of massage, is a favorite at Venus Spa.
The Anguillan Massage ($130, 50 minutes), which combines several modalities of massage, is a favorite at Venus Spa.

As a Repêchage Spa de Beauté, Venus Spa features Repêchage products exclusively. "We use Repêchage with very successful results," says spa director Kathy Eggleston. "The line is enriched with many natural skin-nourishing, hydrating qualities and special formulas to help balance the skin. It also includes products for each skin type. Most importantly, our estheticians love working with the products, seeing positive results first-hand as well as hearing client feedback."

Additionally, the spa menu incorporates a host of locally harvested fruits, herbs, and vegetables. The Hydroponic Cucumber and Aloe Wrap ($95, 50 minutes) helps sunburned spa-goers get cooling, hydrating relief by using cucumbers culled from Cuisinart's distinctive hydroponic farm where plants are cultivated in a nutrient solution rather than in soil. "This particular treatment is effective for guests who are overexposed to the sun," says Eggleston. "It cools, calms, and helps heal the skin." Another local favorite is the Anguillan Coconut Pineapple Scrub ($95, 50 minutes), which quenches skin with indigenous coconut milk and pineapple juice.

The resort's hydroponic farm also contributes to the spa's cuisine. Along with fruit and vegetable drinks and smoothies, the spa offers organically grown produce, as well as a healthy menu created by the resort's chef, Daniel Orr. "Our chef is very spa minded when it comes to his creations, which include the freshest, healthiest, and most delicious recipes and meals possible," says Eggleston. "Along with many vegetarian dishes, a large variety of salads and fresh local seafood are available, as well."

Though the menu is extensive and the cuisine is fresh and inviting, Eggleston says the most important asset the spa has is its staff. She makes it a priority to keep her team happy and efficient through continued training, collaboration in the creation of the menu and the management of the spa, and open communication. She believes that "when the staff is happy, the guests will ultimately be happy as well."

"We all realize that the spa staff as a whole is the key to a successful business," says Eggleston. "Because the therapists are caretakers and nurture people, they in turn must feel they are having all of their own needs met. They require all the proper training, tools, products, and equipment to perform their jobs in a professional manner, so they will feel happy and confident when they come to work each day. They know we care about them personally. This creates positive energy throughout the spa that is felt by all the guests."

This staff-centric strategy appears to be working. The 22-person team accommodates up to 80 clients per day during the spa's busy season from mid-December through the end of April. Approximately 90 percent of the clientele is American and 60 percent is female; however, Eggleston says she has seen steady growth of her male clientele. She also stresses that native Anguillans play a crucial part in the spa's success. "Local clients are a small but important base for our year-round business, and this number continues to grow," she says. "They purchase skincare products and gift certificates for special occasions and holidays as well."

Due to the overwhelming demand for treatments at Venus Spa, an expansion is in the works. Starting in August and with a scheduled completion in 2007, the spa will more than triple its space and expand to approximately 30,000 square feet. New features will include spa suites, Watsu and thalassotherapy pools, specialty showers, relaxation rooms, an expanded gym with state-of-the-art fitness equipment and private rooms for personal training and Pilates, a spa café, larger locker facilities, and additional treatment rooms with terraces and outdoor showers.

The Spa at Malliouhana

The Malliouhana Hotel & Spa, located on a scenic cliff on the opposite side of the island, is home to Anguilla's largest spa, a state-of-the-art 15,000-square-foot retreat with a conscientious staff and spectacular array of treatments. "The repertoire of services offered reflects our wish to provide the best global cultural approaches to health and well-being," says spa director Tanya Clark.

The Spa at Malliouhana opened in 2002 with a comprehensive menu of treatments drawn from the traditional European perspective. Since then, Clark has made it her mission to expand the spa's offerings each year, bringing in centuries-old Asian traditions in 2003 and incorporating services rooted in the ancient art of Ayurveda in 2004. According to Clark, spa guests have embraced the Eastern-inspired treatments. "I believe people tend to be more inquisitive and adventurous in their selection of services when they are on vacation," she explains. "They have an opportunity to try something that may not be available where they live and are curious about other cultural approaches."

Popular Asian-themed therapies include Balinese ($105, 60 minutes), Thai ($190, 90 minutes), and Lomi Lomi ($190, 60 minutes) massages, as well as the Ginseng and Pearl Facial ($130, 60 minutes). Ayurvedic treatments include Ayurvedic ($105, 60 minutes) and Indian Head ($70, 30 minutes) massages, Marma Point Therapy ($105, 60 minutes), and the Himalayan Body Masque ($130, 60 minutes). "To ensure an authentic experience and the highest level of service, we have Asian and Indian therapists on staff to provide services from the Asian and Indian perspectives," she says. In fact, Clark credits her 21-member multicultural staff with much of the spa's success. "There is a great deal of exchange between the cultures, which I think enhances both professional and human interactions," she says.

In addition to the global treatments, locally inspired offerings are also available at the spa. "In a Caribbean destination, spa treatments using beneficial local ingredients add to the overall tropical experience," says Clark. Aloe and neem are grown on property for inclusion in several treatments, while coconut and brown sugar are used in the Caribbean Coconut Body Masque ($130, 60 minutes). "The service contributes to a memorable vacation experience using fresh ingredients that are not readily available elsewhere," says Clark.

In all, there are more than 65 traditional and contemporary spa treatments, including massages, body exfoliations and wraps, facials, hair and nail services, and waxing, which are performed in one of the spa's five treatment rooms, the outdoor treatment area, or in one of the three decadent spa suites that are equipped with outdoor balconies. Product lines used at the spa include Aromatherapy Associates, Sothys, Phytomer, and Bumble and bumble hair products in the salon.

This year, Clark is expanding the spa's offerings with three-, four-, and five-day packages offered from Asian, Ayurvedic, and European perspectives. According to Clark, she also has collaborated with resort chef Alain Laurent to create an extensive spa cuisine menu that combines "nutritional intelligence with fresh, flavorful ingredients to stimulate and satisfy the most discriminating tastes," as well as accommodate a variety of weight management diet programs. "We have tried to provide choices that enable people to enjoy the dining experience without compromising their personal goals," she says.

Since its inception, the spa has become a destination in and of itself for guests at the Malliohuana, as well as for other visitors to the island and local spa-lovers. Clark says that 69 percent of the spa's guests are from North America, 30 percent are from Europe, and approximately one percent is from other parts of the world. She also sees a breakdown of around two male clients for every three female ones. "The clientele demographics are affected by many variables, including the time of year, but we see a significant cross-section of honeymooners, couples, families, celebrities, and business people," says Clark. "We have quite a number of local people who use the spa, and we welcome everybody, regardless of whether they are staying at Malliouhana Hotel, are vacationing at other properties, or live on Anguilla or on other islands in the Caribbean."

Cap Juluca

In yet another picturesque corner of Anguilla sits Cap Juluca, a luxury Moorish-style destination that boasts spectacular beaches and a view of nearby St. Martin. While the resort does not have a traditional spa facility, holistic spa treatments are enjoyed by guests either in their villas or in spa rooms in the main building of the 179-acre property. "In its broadest sense, spa is not a specific space, a building, or a facility but rather, an experience that heals, soothes, comforts, relaxes and restores," explains spa director Liz Eckel. "Our approach at Cap Juluca has been to consider the property as a spa experience, and because it is a large, spacious, and private property, we are able to bring the spa to our guests."

Eckel says Cap Juluca's spa philosophy is based on bringing ancient traditions and wisdom into a contemporary healing context that incorporates elements of the earth and the sea through globally influenced treatments and through the use of such product lines as Jamu, Jurlique, and Tara Aromatherapy products. "Plants have always been used for their medicinal properties, so it is natural that we turn to both the earth and the sea for the essential oils, herbs, flowers, salt, oils, and clay we use in our treatments, scrubs, and wraps," she says.

The spa menu is also extensive, incorporating traditions from around the world. Among the most popular modalities are the Juluca Massage ($95, 60 minutes), a traditional Swedish massage, and the Deep Healing Massage ($115, 60 minutes), a vigorous, integrated treatment where the therapist applies pressure directly to trigger points to release physical and emotional blocks in the neuromuscular system. Spa rituals, such as the The Juluca Ritual for Two ($450, 120 minutes), which includes a soothing and refreshing basil-and-mint clay body mask, a 20-minute floral- and essential oil-infused bath, and a luxurious Balinese massage, are among the most requested options for couples. Other guest favorites include the newly introduced Balinese ($100, 60 minutes) and Thai ($200, 90 minutes) massages, as well as Hot Stone Therapy ($200, 90 minutes).

Unique to Cap Juluca is its Mind, Body, and Spirit program, a week-long retreat offered monthly that features spa services, spiritual therapies, and seminars from wellness leaders. "It is a group of á-la-carte alternative signature treatments, including transpersonal work, rebirthing, regressions, shamanic work, astrology, and more, that has drawn a strong clientele," says Eckel.

Eckel says she plans to accommodate the growing interest in spa treatments at Cap Juluca with ongoing, extensive training for the therapists, constant expansion and updates of the spa menu, and education programs for guests in such areas as yoga and personal growth. Beginning this year, the resort will add to its spa services with additional treatment rooms, a beauty salon, a gym, and a cardio center, all of which are designed to enhance the spa, the resort, and the Anguilla experience. "Our clients are successful, interesting, and desirous of pulling the plug while on vacation with us," says Eckel. "They want quiet, they want to be relaxed, and they want to be treated well. They treasure their privacy, they expect high levels of service, and they have a very personal relationship with Cap Juluca and Anguilla."