Virgin Territory

ALTHOUGH A PASSPORT ISN'T NECESSARY FOR Americans visiting the U.S. Virgin Islands (U.S.V.I.), that doesn't mean it's not somewhat uncharted territory. For instance, people drive on the left side of the road, and residents—considered U.S. citizens—are not allowed to vote for the office of president. The differences don't end there for this popular destination with a growing spa scene. Characterized by a variety of Caribbean influences, the U.S.V.I. is made up of four major islands, Saint Croix, Saint John, Saint Thomas, and Water Island, in addition to a number of smaller islands. The first three are by far better known, each possessing a unique personality.

St. Croix

Those who are enamored by the Caribbean's rich history will find The Buccaneer an ideal spot to soak up the island's lore. Founded in the 17th century, it has been family run for generations. In fact, it's reputed to be one of the Caribbean's longest operating resorts. For guests whose vacations wouldn't be complete without a spa treatment or two, there's the resort's Hideaway Spa. Staffed with a multicultural staff of 14 full-time and eight part-time employees, the spa is able to accommodate 40 spa-goers in a typical day.

Surfside Spa at the Divi Carina Bay Resort & Casino sports a casual island ambience.
Surfside Spa at the Divi Carina Bay Resort & Casino sports a casual island ambience.

Using Phytomer and Bodycoffee products, the spa features a variety of specialized body treatments. For example, the Mango Indulgence ($80, 50 minutes) is a Caribbean-inspired treatment involving a thorough exfoliation using a mango scrub. Ideal for those with sun-damaged skin, the revitalizing Marine Spring Water Wrap ($80, 50 minutes) helps to improve circulation. As for the future, spa manager Ruba Atary plans to offer treatments at the beach and pool.

Situated on the southern coast of St. Croix, Divi Carina Bay Resort & Casino provides a tranquil retreat with its secluded location. The 180-room resort just became even more enticing with the addition of a 1,000-square-foot spa. Opened in July, Surfside Spa features the only couples' treatment room on the island. With ocean views, it brings the island ambience inside. For those who want their treatments al fresco, there are two private gazebos for massages—one on the beach and the other in the resort's pool area.

Treatment rooms at Surfside Spa feature ocean views.
Treatment rooms at Surfside Spa feature ocean views.

With three treatment rooms, one pedicure throne, and one manicure station, the spa is able to accommodate approximately 25 clients each day. The spa functions with three staff members in the off-season but requires at least six for the remaining months. Because most guests are seeking a relaxing experience, the treatment menu offers a variety of soothing facials, massages, and body treatments. "Our list of services was composed to encourage complete relaxation and a resignation of mind and body to the forces of peace and tranquility," says spa manager Kelley Copley. With that in mind, most spa-goers gravitate toward massage, 70 percent to be more precise. Nails make up approximately 20 percent of the business and facials garner the rest. "We offer an array of products by Germaine de Capuccini because it provides both effective results and complete luxury," says Copley, noting that the spa also uses Creative Nail Design products. To date, the greatest challenge Copley faces is retailing the extensive supply of candles the spa carries. According to her, they don't sell as well as they could on account of the Caribbean's tropical weather and presence in other local spas.

Al fresco massages are available at The Buccaneer's Hideaway Spa.
Al fresco massages are available at The Buccaneer's Hideaway Spa.

St. Thomas

With stunning views of Charlotte Amalie Harbour, Frenchman's Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort is ideally located near the Caribbean's most popular port of call. The teeming waterfront is just steps away from charming alleyways, which feature former Danish warehouses that have been transformed into a shopping mecca. Opened in early 1998, The Reef Health Club & Spa provides an escape from the crowds that overrun the town when cruise ships are in port. The 3,500-square-foot spa includes three treatment rooms, an oceanfront cabana, and a couples' cabana on the beach. According to spa director Garth Hudson, the couples' cabana on Morning Star Beach helps set the spa apart from the competition. "You are able to hear the sound of the waves crashing onto the beach," says Hudson, who is also regional director of WTS International, a spa management company.

The pool area at Frenchman's Reef is an ideal spot to lounge after a visit to The Reef Health Club & Spa.
The pool area at Frenchman's Reef is an ideal spot to lounge after a visit to The Reef Health Club & Spa.

Catering for the most part to hotel guests, the spa attracts mainly American visitors, 95 percent to be more specific. Women make up 70 percent of spa-goers and most are between the ages of 35 and 45. According to Hudson, the treatment menu was based on product lines that offer a variety of services at a price point that fits the spa's clientele. Dermalogica was selected as the spa's primary skincare line and supplemented with Essence of Vali and Kristal. Despite a well-rounded menu, guests tend to prefer massage. "Massage is seventy percent of our business," says Hudson. Not surprisingly, the spa's most popular treatment is the Therapeutic Massage ($90, 50 minutes; $120, 80 minutes).

A fountain greets guests visiting Journeys Spa at Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort & Spa.
A fountain greets guests visiting Journeys Spa at Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort & Spa.

With 10 full-time and eight part-time staff members, the spa accommodates approximately 40 guests in a typical day. Operating in the existing facility, however, does present its fair share of difficulties. According to Hudson, the spa's limited size is the greatest challenge, as is marketing to guests staying at Morning Star, which features 100 rooms down on the beach away from the main building.

Also on St. Thomas, Journeys Spa at Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort & Spa offers a welcome retreat to visitors. The spa features four treatment rooms, one of which is designated specifically for couples. Managed by WTS International, the spa offers a number of Caribbean-inspired treatments. For instance, the Caribbean Journey ($60 for individuals, $70 for two; 20 minutes) is a milky coconut bath flavored with pineapple and aromatic essences. The Tropical Smoothie ($215) is a three-hour package that includes a Journeys Signature Facial, a customized Pevonia treatment; a Journeys Sea Salt Glow; and a manicure and pedicure. The spa also offers a variety of retail items from Spa Technologies, Primal Elements, Brenda Christian Cosmetics, Artec, Au Courant, Fruits & Passion, and a line of Journeys Spa-branded clothing.

Meditation is just one of the offerings available at Caneel Bay.
Meditation is just one of the offerings available at Caneel Bay.

St. John

At The Westin St. John, guests can experience a similar menu as that found at The Reef Health Club & Spa on St. Thomas. Also managed by WTS International, The Westin St. John Fitness Center and Spa includes three treatment rooms, one manicure/pedicure room, and two outdoor beach cabanas. Opened in 1999, the 4,000-square-foot spa and fitness center relies on Dermalogica, Get Fresh, and more to make up its treatment and retail offerings. According to spa director Rhiana Lopez, although the Therapeutic Massage ($80, 50 minutes; $115, 80 minutes) remains a favorite, spa-goers also tend to enjoy the Mango Indulgence Sugar Polish Wrap ($95, 45 minutes).

With three full-time and 17 part-time staffers, the spa can accommodate 24 massages, 12 facials, and 12 nail services in a typical day. Again, like The Reef Health Club & Spa, the current size of the facility presents the biggest challenge. To remedy the situation, the construction of a 10,000-square-foot spa and health club is being discussed.

The Self Centre at Caneel Bay is set on a bluff overlooking the ocean.
The Self Centre at Caneel Bay is set on a bluff overlooking the ocean.

Claiming a prime piece of real estate within the Virgin Islands National Park on St. John, Caneel Bay serves as a tribute to the environmental vision of its founder, Laurance Rockefeller. The ecologically sensitive resort capitalizes on the lush landscape to create the ultimate hideaway. For those seeking spiritual enlightenment, the Self Centre at Caneel provides an eclectic blend of mind-body approaches and wellness-oriented treatments. Created by Jan Kinder, the center caters primarily to successful and stressed individuals. "Throughout the eighties, Caneel was one of those places I frequented to relax, meditate, and connect with nature," says Kinder. "In 1999, I approached Caneel's former managing director, Brian Young, with the concept of establishing a mind-body-spirit center at Caneel." In 2000, the Self Centre was created on a wooded bluff overlooking the resort.

According to Kinder, the Self Centre is based on the idea of self-awareness. Many guests visit with the hope of gaining inner peace or finding greater meaning in their lives. Others seek insight on dealing with stress or living a healthier lifestyle. "Group sessions support guests' need to relax, invigorate, or rekindle their sense of spirit," says Kinder. "Individual wellness treatments enhance physical, mental, and spiritual healing."

In creating the menu, Kinder began by offering various practices she was already familiar with, such as breath work, meditation, and sound therapy. She then expanded the offerings to include astrology, Pilates, and more. Group sessions are limited to a maximum of six to eight guests. Meditation and yoga make up the most popular sessions. As for the center's wellness treatments, most guests opt for either Tuning the Body: Vibrational Sound Therapy ($150, 75 minutes) or Shamanic Healing ($150, 75 minutes), a ritual in which a Shaman helps remove barriers that may be hindering individuals from living their life's purpose.

In addition to Kinder, the staff is made up of six part-time employees, each accomplished in a different specialty. The center can accommodate 30 to 35 guests in a typical day. "The Self Centre staff helps guide guests towards personal, meaningful, and life-enhancing experiences," says Kinder. "It is our intention to nourish guests with conscious approaches to integrate into their daily lives for a renewed sense of self."

Suggested Articles

Love animals? Then Sunrise Springs Resort is perfect for you.

Enjoy treatments designed to take in the sights, smells, and sounds of Italy while overlooking the Tuscan Hills.

Join global industry leaders this fall in Chicago for seminars, discussions, and workshops.