From: Spa Secrets,
Poorna Shetty visits spas in Mexico, Antigua, St Lucia, the Turks and Caicos islands, and Grenada.
A country so vast it has its own micro-climate, Mexico has it all. From the snowy Sierra mountains, jungles in the south-east, desert in the north-west and powdery beaches along the western peninsula, it shares it borders with the US, Belize and Guatemala, with an equally eclectic bag of cultural influences. Mayan ruins, crumbling haciendas and 6,000 miles of shoreline make for great exploration, while the water holds pristine coral reefs for snorkelling and diving.
Close to Cancun, but in a world of its own and protected by the world's second-largest barrier reef, the Riviera Maya sits on the Yucatan Peninsula. The biggest draw is the 80-mile coastline of fine-sand beaches nudging the Caribbean Sea, with low-lying jungle in the background. Tulum and Xcaret house Mayan ruins, while the island Cozumel offers some of the best visibility for watersports.
Sandwiched between a vast stretch of grassland and the Caribbean sea, this tranquil 14-acre boutique resort with 90 plush oceanfront suites is where the A-list comes to rejuvenate.
healing, with a Med Spa and Mud Bar. They also use a temazcal, a sauna-like sweat lodge where herb-infused water is poured on volcanic rocks.maromahotel.com
The Pitons, St Lucia's two soaring, craggy volcanic peaks, gaze down from a 2,000ft height at he lush, flourishing island below. At ground level it's a different world, with sulphuric springs and thick umbrellas of dense jungle. As a volcanic island the views are spectacular, from the Diamond Falls to the National Rainforest housing hundreds of birds. Castries is a lively city — but with a total island population of just below 170,000, it never feels too crowded.
Right next to the UNESCO-listed Pitons, St Lucia's oldest town has been rebuilt due to fires, hurricanes and an earthquake. Some of the estates are still standing, and with sweeping bays and picturesque houses, traces of its tempestuous history can be hard to find. The Sulphur Springs are nearby for hot baths, and the scenic Diamond Falls waterfall is set within the Soufriere Estate. For an education in cocoa, the Fond Doux Estate is a working plantation running historic tours.
Set on Sugar Beach, this vintage yet modern resort rests on the site of an 18th-century sugar plantation in acres of rainforest.
Antigua is said to have 365 beaches, but with such sleepy scenery, it's doubtful even Christopher Columbus visited them all when he landed here in 1492. It's the larger of the two main islands that make up Antigua and Barbuda, and is also renowned for turtle hatchings and colourful birdlife. It gained independence from Britain in 1981 but still has relics from its naval days, with shipwrecks off the reef and the restored colonial naval station Nelson's Dockyard.
Located on the west coast of Antigua, Jolly Harbour is home to a mile-long stretch of soft, white sandy beach framed by a leafy hillside. Watersports are a big draw in Antigua: from the buzzing Jolly Harbour marina, Cades Reef is only a 15-minute boat ride. Located between St. John's in the city and English Harbour, home to Nelson's Dockyard, it's a good spot for sightseeing. For a more deserted beach experience, Darkwood beach is located a couple of miles to the south.
This boutique hotel shoulders the hills with 60 luxurious suites overlooking the sea. Featuring contemporary rooms with four-poster beds and private plunge pools, it's possible to see neighbouring islands St. Kitts and Nevis, while the sunsets are always spectacular.
distinctive Gauguin-inspired cottages to luxurious rooms opening out towards the sea. The spa rests against the resort's lagoon and bird sanctuary, so your rustic, open-air massage on the decks will be accompanied by birdsong. galleybayresort.com
The canopies of nutmeg trees make Grenada one of the Caribbean's main spice islands, and although it's relatively new to tourism in comparison with its neighbours, this only enhances its unspoilt beauty. It's a volcanic island with rich soil, so no wonder there's so much vegetation here. Grand Anse Beach is the main beach stretch; there are also spice plantations, historic forts, waterfalls and lakes as testament to its rich beauty.
Cradled by the edge of a volcanic crater with 17th century French architecture in its belly, picturesque St. George's is home to most Grenadians. A horseshoe-shaped harbour is a launchpad for day-trippers and it's easy to get lost in its labyrinthine alleyways. Fort Frederick offers a sweeping panoramic view of the south-west coastline.
Nestled against the hillside, LaSource on Pink Gin Beach gives no clue of its proximity to St. George's bustle of activity. Small and holistic with yoga, meditation and Tai Chi classes on the beach, its 100 rooms, dotted across the hills and facing the sea, have mahogany four-poster beds, marble bathrooms and Caribbean jalousie-style shutters to keep the heat at bay.
The newly opened Heaven and Earth Spa is just that; overlooking the sea, treatments using local spices are conducted in beautiful wooden rooms. Of note are the Hydrotherm massages taking place on mattresses filled with warm water. calabashhotel.com
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