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Heat Treatment

Anguilla’s always had great beaches, but the hot island paradise has added spas and a splash of spiritualism.


Après massage, le déluge: The orchid-petal bath, post rubdown, at Cap Juluca.  

From Tucson to Bali, nearly every resort offers luxe spas to its clients. Yet the Caribbean resorts have never had more than the occasional exercise class (with the instructor strolling in fifteen minutes late).

On Anguilla, however, a sparsely populated jewel in the British West Indies that has suddenly become the island destination of the moment, three of the top resorts have announced that they’re pursuing the spa scene, from personal training sessions to beauty treatments, yoga, and beyond. Way beyond.

A friend and I discovered this recently, when one night over dinner at the resort of Cap Juluca we met Diana Bourel, a pixieish woman of about 40 who is in charge of the resort’s spiritual program. When Bourel learned that my friend is a surgeon, she suggested he write a medical paper on the evils of injecting Botox into the target zone between your brows, which is often referred to, in certain quarters, as the third eye.

The next day, I was in her suite for “Coming Home,” billed as a spiritual energy reading. With a scarf around her head—in homage, I suppose, to the fortune-tellers of yore—Bourel instructed me to sit with my knees touching hers while she held my hands and palpated them. She then closed her eyes and launched into a Sanskrit chant. As a veteran of yoga, I didn’t find this odd. The chant, she explained, was a prayer for me to forgive her. I soon began to see why. Her voice returned to English, but took on an eerie Ghost of Christmas Past quality. “You used to go to a big house with a large iron gate,” she moaned. “There were two children, aged 7 and 12, dressed in academic clothes. You loved to go there. Your mother”—apparently in my past life— "was the maid in the house.” She then told me that my mother (in my current life) had trouble with the position of my head during birth, and this affected my energy. She advised me to check with my mother, which I did, and when she practically laughed me off the phone, I thought it best not to bring up the part about the maid.

Given the way aromatherapized yoga and candlelit meditation classes have been elbowing out more traditional cardiovascular workouts in New York, it didn’t seem such a leap for Cap Juluca to try the spiritual approach. If anything, it was a more natural evolution for the slow-paced island than the hip-hop yacht parties going on in nearby St. Barts.

The $35, 000 view: The Sky Villa, one of three accommodations at Temenos.  

Arriving at Cap Juluca, you instantly start to unwind. That may be partly because of the rum punch they feed you during check-in—abstinence from drinks with little umbrellas will never be part of a Caribbean spa regime. But it has more to do with the warm and efficient staff and the fact that accommodations have no radios and no TVs. Each room faces the ocean, with its spacious private terrace bestowing panoramic views of the sea and of St. Martin, and an expansive, sun-drenched, partly enclosed bath and shower opening onto a back garden. Breakfast, complimentary fresh fruit and pastries, or more spalike offerings, such as egg-white omelettes with poached lobster, can be delivered to your room.

This is no Canyon Ranch—the island is flat as a yoga mat—and Cap Juluca doesn’t even have any regular exercise classes. But private circuit-training sessions are offered at the well-appointed and air-conditioned gym, the running track is bougainvillea- and hibiscus-studded, and guests regularly jog up and down the breathtaking stretch of beach. You can swim in either a glassy Maundays Bay or a 60-foot pool tiled in the hotel’s Moroccan motif. The resort has added outdoor yoga classes sophisticated enough to be challenging but still accessible to novices.

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