Virgin Territory

Most visitors to the Caribbean are in search of sandy beaches, warm weather, and blue skies, which are exactly what they will find on Virgin Gorda, the third largest of the British Virgin Islands (B.V.I.) but this stretch of land, located 90 miles East of  Puerto Rico, offers so much more than the typical beach vacation. Discovered in 1493 by Christopher Columbus, the 10-mile island boasts the most scenic beaches and mountains in the area and is home to the legendary Baths, an unusual geologic formation of granite boulders that lie in piles on the beach, forming grottoes that open to the sea where tourists can swim through and explore the beauty of nature. Although a small number of upscale hotels and resorts can be found on Virgin Gorda, the most popular remains Little Dix Bay, the very first luxury resort in the B.V.I. Built in 1964, Little Dix Bay was the brainchild of Laurance Rockefeller, a third-generation member of the prominent family, who wanted to create a remote destination where visitors could escape the realities of life and enjoy the beauty of unspoiled nature, which it did for decades. In 1993, the resort became a part of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts and eventually underwent a five-year multi-million-dollar renovation, which was concluded in December 2006. The new-and-improved Little Dix Bay boasted updated guest rooms, 16 new junior suites, three hilltop villas, updated restaurants, and a children’s recreation area. But undeniably, the most exciting addition was introduced in 2002 with the opening of Sense, A Rosewood Spa.

Located on a bluff overlooking the Caribbean Sea, the spa offers a 360-degree view of the island’s natural surroundings, which is the first thing guests notice upon arrival. After checking in at the outdoor reception area, where they are offered sparkling water or a tropical concoction to start their journey, spa-goers are led to the locker rooms to change into their robes and slippers before they are escorted to the spa’s relaxation area, an outdoor two-tiered infinity pool with a neighboring Jacuzzi. In fact, according to spa director Christine Parillon, this enticing area creates one of the spa’s main challenges. “Our biggest issue is getting clients to their treatments on time,” she says. “Everyone just loves to relax at the spa pool, and time just slips away.”

According to Parillon, who became spa director in May 2009, guests don’t want to sacrifice the natural beauty of the area while experiencing treatments, so they get the best of both worlds, thanks to the spa’s nine open-air treatment rooms that all boast views of the ocean. Among the offerings, the most popular is the Seaside Sedation ($135, 60 minutes; $185; 90 minutes), a full-body Swedish massage, but Parillon says the spa also sees a lot of couples looking to experience treatments together. For them, another favorite is the Escape Together: A Couple’s Retreat (starting at $420, 2 hours 30 minutes). Created to help couples maintain harmony of their bodies, minds, and spirits, the treatment includes the choice of two combinations: a mud mask with alone time to apply healing mud to one another, a wrap and a calming scalp massage, a 60-minute Seaside Sedation Massage, and 30 more minutes of alone time to enjoy their own private terrace and hot tub; or a private yoga session on the yoga deck overlooking the ocean, a 60-minute Seaside Sedation Massage, and 30 minutes of alone time on the private terrace or in the hot tub. “Guests really find romance at our spa,” says Parillon.

For clients looking for a taste of the local life, the spa offers a variety of regionally inspired treatments, such as Caribbean Breeze ($180, 90 minutes). One of the spa’s most popular treatments, this service begins with an exfoliation using Pineapple Papaya Enzyme Scrub, followed by the application of Organic Sea Enzyme Mask, which contains aloe and ginger root to detoxify. As the mask penetrates the skin, the client enjoys a scalp massage with warm Coconut Kukui Oil. Once the mask is removed, the client is misted with hydrating coconut milk and massaged with rejuvenating Kukui Lotion. “Our indigenous treatments really help guests connect with the island, which is what the entire resort aims to do.”

At full capacity, the spa can see up to 65 clients a day, and all are encouraged to relax at the pool and take in the views or walk down to the private spa beach and enjoy the sea air before and after treatments. To ensure all clients can be accommodated, the spa employs 21 full-time staff members who all underwent extensive training. “Our customers are our main focus, so we need to know how to keep them satisfied,” says Parillon.
Looking forward, Parillon says there are no plans to expand the spa, as guests seem to be completely satisfied with the current offerings. “For now, the spa is complete,” says Parillon. “If you are doing something correct and have beyond satisfied customers, why would you ever change that?”

(Virgin Gorda, B.V.I.)

OWNER: Rosewood Little Dix Bay

Christine Parillon

OPENED: December 2002

66% female, 33% male

U.S., UK, Italy

28,000 square feet; 9 treatment rooms

aromatherapy, Ayurveda, body treatments, couples’ treatments, facials, fitness, guided meditation, hand and foot treatments, massage, nailcare, outdoor treatments, Pilates, prenatal services, reflexology, waxing, yoga

Mango Pineapple Sugar Scrub ($135, 60 minutes), Goat Milk and Honey Wrap ($140, 60 minutes), Salt Island Scrub ($135, 60 minutes), and Natural Neem Leaf Facial ($135, 60 minutes)

Sense Spa Journey ($560, 4 hours 30 minutes)

Epicuren, Éminence Organic Skin Care

Rivolta, Spa Soft, Zendals

Roger Downing (Tortola, B.V.I.)

Tonya Burke of Wilson Associates (Dallas)


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