Features

Pampering in Paradise

spaBy Kathy Borsuk with Melinda Minton
Photos courtesy Serenity Spa, Beaches Resort and Phillip Pepperell

“I’m warning you now, this could become addictive”

Turks & Caicos spas

That’s what Megan Bates of Serenity Spa said just before she gave me my first-ever beauty treatment. Truthfully, I had been rather apprehensive at the thought of a stranger performing ablutions on my body. But I think I started to relax as soon as I stretched out on the padded table and inhaled the fresh, clean aroma of herb-scented air. Soothing mood music played quietly in the background and it was too easy to let thoughts of deadlines, bills and laundry slip away.

Megan gently dabbed and rubbed a variety of skin care products onto my face and neck whose various purposes were to cleanse, exfoliate, balance, rehydrate and soothe. I could smell the fragrances of rose petals, mint, lavender and apricot as each was applied. As the potions worked their magic, I was treated to a series of blissful massages on my feet, neck and shoulders, arms and hands, even my face!

My hour was up too quickly, and it was time to sit up and face the world again. I felt totally relaxed, almost dazed. My face felt refreshed and soft and I swear that some of the “concentration lines” on my forehead had disappeared! As I floated out of the spa, I vowed to treat myself to this kind of pampering again and I was eager to try a full massage next time.

“Next time” came sooner than I imagined. Several days later, I was treated to my first massage by Terri Tapper at Spa Tropique. Her calm, mature manner helped me feel comfortable as she used her strong, warm(!) hands to gently rub and stretch my tired body using lightly scented herbal oils, taking special care with my taut neck, shoulder, back and calf muscles. (I especially enjoyed the foot massage, as she gently rolled her knuckles across the balls of my feet.)

Once again, I drifted into sensory heaven, and when the massage ended all too soon I felt loose and enervated. (I believe the description “wet noodle” would apply.) Terri suggested that I drink lots of water during the day to flush the toxins that had been released during the massage.
Everyone was right . . . beauty treatments are addicting. But what a healthy, positive way to escape from reality!

Finding time to pamper yourself in the throes of today’s typically frenzied lifestyle is rare. That’s why a vacation away from home is an ideal time for a massage or beauty treatment. Not only can you fully relax and enjoy the services, but their effects can be savored when you don’t have to return to work or chores. The spectacular natural beauty of the Turks & Caicos, combined with the sunny climate and intoxicating ocean breeze, further help enhance the healthful effects.

Ironically, not everyone you find in a spa is here on holiday. Turks & Caicos residents make up a large proportion of the business. Although hard for visitors to imagine, living and working here, especially on bustling Providenciales, is certainly NOT stress-free. A trip to the spa is a good excuse to steal time away from family demands and a soothing answer to the aches and pains of tennis and golf-playing “weekend warriors.” Spa services also make wonderful gifts.

The Turks & Caicos benefit from the services of massage therapists, beauty therapists and aestheticians who take pride in their extensive training and professional expertise. They agree that it takes much more than a short course to fully understand the workings of the human body and the effects of massage techniques, herbal products, and exercise and nutrition recommendations. With this in mind, you can relax knowing that you are in safe hands.

Take Time for Serenity

Serenity Spa (www.serenityspa.net) is located upstairs above the lobby of the luxurious Grace Bay Club, although it is open to all visitors and residents. Entering the waiting area is like stepping into a cool sanctuary: pale green walls, the sound of a trickling fountain and herb-accented fragrance combine to produce this effect.

Open since Christmas, 1999, Serenity Spa is staffed by Dee Dempsey, Megan Bates and Kim Goodwin, all certified massage and beauty therapists with over 20 years of combined experience, including specialized training in sports massage. From their Grace Bay aerie, they offer a full roster of massage and beauty treatments using Elemis products, a line synonymous with the finest quality of organic herbs, medicinal plants and revitalizing seaweed extracts.

Dee and Megan say that massages are their most popular services, especially for first-timers, who later try facials and other beauty treatments. Massage offerings range from therapeutic massages, which can be targeted to your specific needs, to deep tissue/sports massages, used to treat chronic muscular problems. Serenity Spa’s “ultimate massage” uses a signature blend of aromatherapy oils and incorporates scalp, face and feet . . . ah! Dee says that couples massages are especially popular with vacationers, and are often done side-by-side on the spa’s private outdoor terrace overlooking Grace Bay. (How’s that for a sensuous sunset?)

Besides facials–tailored to your skin type to either rejuvenate, revive, desensitize, rebalance or improve skin problems–Serenity Spa offers Aromaspa Body Wraps. Upon my questioning about what seemed a strange ritual, Megan explained the process. “We use special sea plants, which are very detoxifying, and blend them with essential oils to create a warm paste which we apply to the shoulders, lower torso and legs. Then, you’re wrapped in a foil ‘space blanket’ for warmth–it’s very snuggly and comforting. While the treatment works, we massage your scalp and feet. It’s like a facial for your entire body!” Body wraps can also be personalized to firm, tone and reduce stretch marks, ease joint stiffness, or minimize the appearance of cellulite.

Speaking of that dreaded word, Megan explained that she is uniquely qualified to administer the new “Ionithermie Super Detox” anti-cellulite treatment, currently in vogue with female members of the “gym crowd.” A European technique not currently available in the United States, Megan completed the training program to use the combination of a clay and algae mask and electrical stimuli which promises to reduce cellulite, improve skin texture and firm and tone muscles.

Other services offered by Serenity Spa include body hair depilation and nail services, including a spa manicure and pedicure complete with a rich paraffin heat mask to help soften and condition the skin.

To fully relax, unwind and indulge, there are 1/2 and full day spa packages featuring a combination of treatments; the full day includes a break for lunch on the patio. Dee and Megan encourage making reservations in advance, via phone or e-mail, to ensure you get the time and day desired: afternoons and evenings are especially popular after a day on the beach.

Tropical Tension Tamer

Colette Pepperell, owner of Spa Tropique (www.spatropique.com), firmly believes that “restorative relaxation brings an invigorating sense of well-being.” Spa Tropique operates from treatment rooms at Ocean Club (East and West) and Allegro resorts. They also utilize a fully equipped mobile service to bring nurturing to your door, be it at another resort, villa or your own home.

Colette is a sports therapist and personal trainer with over 16 years of experience and an alphabet soup of internationally recognized professional certifications to her name, including aquatic exercise, water rehabilitation, personal training, and lifestyle and weight management counseling. After working in California and traveling to a number of islands, Colette and her husband Phillip settled down in Providenciales over three years ago, when she opened Spa Tropique as a one-woman enterprise. Today, her staff has grown to include three other certified therapists.

Here, too, massage is the most requested service and along with well-known massage techniques, Spa Tropique’s staff incorporates a variety of modalities such as trigger point, reflexology, Trager, myofascial, reiki, energy balancing, polarity and Lomi Lomi.

Unique to the island and becoming very popular, Colette says, is the River Rock massage. For this treatment, smooth stones collected from Canada by therapist Joanne Richards are warmed and then used to soothe individual aches and pains. The stones offer an excellent way to reach deep into muscle tissue without pain, and can be applied at specific “chakra points” to promote deep relaxation.

Spa Tropique therapist Missy Craig is specially certified in pregnancy massage and, Colette explains, loves the opportunity to nurture two at the same time. The staff also does regular therapeutic work on residents who have been referred by the local chiropractor.

spa2Facials, manicures and pedicures are the next most popular spa services, and these days, even men partake in this pampering. “I think that overall,” Colette comments, “there is an increase in the use of spa services for the average person, including men, who not only need to destress, but are paying more attention to their bodies. In fact, corporate gift certificates are becoming a more-common employee perk.”

Spa Tropique uses Pevonia products to conduct a variety of facials ranging from deep European cleansing to more specialized treatments such as collagen, elastin, seaweed, oxygenating and skin-soothing sunburn applications.

One unique service is the paraffin body wrap, designed to ease aching joints and rehydrate dry skin. It involves the use of a body brush to paint warm paraffin wax over your body. You’re then wrapped in plastic and towels to allow your skin to exude moisture. As I saw for myself with a mini-demonstration on my hand, the wax peels off like a glove, leaving behind smooth, moist skin.

Fit and upbeat herself, Colette spends much of her time working with clients on exercise programs, personal fitness training and lifestyle and weight management counseling. Utilizing gym facilities at the resorts, along with the latest in specialized equipment such as exercise balls, thera-bands and aquajoggers, she guides clients through exercise techniques on land and water. She says, “Some people need help creating a program tailored to their specific fitness goals. I have others who are superfit and want to be coached and shouted at to encourage them to push harder. I work with a lot of older people, too, who may have health concerns.” She adds, “Here on the island, it’s easy to get into eating and drinking problems–so I help some clients make slow, long-term lifestyle changes towards positive goals.”

Ultra Pampering

Nestled in a quiet corner of Beaches (www.beaches.com) all-inclusive resort on Grace Bay, the signature Ultra Spa is inviting and elegant, with a distinctive Eastern atmosphere. Lush foliage lines the paths between buildings, serene statues add a formal touch and hot and cold outdoor plunge pools beckon you to take a dip.

The main spa building envelops a spacious steam room and dry sauna, as well as shower and locker rooms with robes and towels that are complimentary for use by all adult Beaches guests. (Other spa services are available for an additional charge.)

Inside, walls are lined in marble tiles, their earthy ochre tones complemented by dark wood accents. Soothing music and the pleasant aroma of eucalyptus calm your senses and the immediate effect is that of hushed tranquility.

Paulette Clarke has been the Spa Manager in Turks & Caicos for two years, coming from a background of salon and banking management. She oversees an international staff of 8 to 10 certified therapists, who, Paulette notes, have been re-trained to the award-winning standards that are consistent across all nine of Sandals/Beaches ultra-spa properties.

Paulette concurs that many guests have never tried spa services before. “People are more relaxed on vacation and have the time to pamper themselves. They feel safe and comfortable here and let go of their inhibitions. And once they’ve tried a massage or facial, it usually becomes a habit! Because of our upscale market, we also cater to veteran spa-goers who have their own therapists at home; ours, of course, always compare favorably.”

From eight private treatment rooms–all spotlessly clean sanctuaries of subdued candle lighting and herbal fragrance–Beaches Ultra Spa offers an extensive array of treatments. All utilize Pevonia skin care products, formulated in Switzerland from pure and potent natural botanical ingredients.

Along with basic Swedish massage, aromatherapy, reflexology and deep tissue massage, special pampering options include side-by-side massages for two in the spa or in your room (ideal for lovers and honeymooners) or the indulgence of having two massage therapists work on you at the same time!

There are no fewer than 10 varieties of facial treatments to select from–all include cleansing steam, facial massage and mask. One unique option is the Moor Mud Masque, an anti-stress treatment using natural moor mud, rich in vitamins and minerals that restore and rejuvenate the skin. The Sun Lover’s Facial utilizes a cooling lift-off mask to soothe and revitalize sun damaged skin. Some partake in a peel using the acid of the white Hibiscus flower, a gentle exfoliating treatment which benefits skin with age spots, clogged pores and wrinkles. And, Paulette admits, each month, they perform 15 to 20 Gentlemen’s Facials, a relaxing and deep pore cleansing facial which includes the use of botanical liposomes to help prevent and relieve razor burn.

Karen Sprung has been director of all spas in the Sandals/Beaches chain for over eight years. She comments, “More and more guests are opting for our exotic offerings . . . like our hydrotherapy bath which combines the benefits of underwater massage with the addition of mineral salts and essential oils.”

Micronized algae powder is the secret ingredient in the Seaweed Bath. The algae is processed for maximum absorption into the system and is known for detoxifying the body and revitalizing metabolism. Prior to suntanning, Karen recommends a Body Polish using a scrub rich in natural grains and plant extracts to remove dead skin cells. Post-tanning, you should consider a hydrating essential oil or seaweed body wrap.

Beaches’ fitness facilities are complete with state-of-art Cybex cardio equipment and free weights, fit balls and a variety of challenging classes including power walks, aquacise, aerobics and stretch classes. Personal trainers are on hand to assist and, of course, there is the 12 mile stretch of Grace Bay Beach beckoning runners, walkers and swimmers.

A full service salon completes the beauty package, offering manicures and pedicures, hair coloring, cutting, styling, braiding and extensions, body waxing and make-up amenities.

Even if you are not staying at the Beaches resort, you are welcome to purchase spa services. Paulette asks that you phone ahead of time for reservations. Fees are the same as those for guests.



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