By Mary Alice Kellogg
SpaWatcher dreams of a place where loofahs grow on trees. She also dreams of that perfect little spa that doesn’t need big bells and whistles to be impressive, where spirit of place and personalized technique rule.
She found it at Sugar Ridge Resort in Antigua, and first things first: many think that loofahs are sea creatures, like sponges. Not true. On a rambling nature walk with resident resort expert Vorn Johnson, she gathered enough loofahs to last a lifetime. Loofah gourds grow on vines; if given a chance get the ones that wind up around the trees as the ones on the ground can be soggy. Pick a brown-skinned one, peel off the paper-thin skin … then exfoliate to your hearts’ content.
Sugar Ridge, an intimate 60-room Caribbean contempoary resort set into a hillside incorporating lush tropical jungle and 360-degree views of the sea, beaches and headlands to Five Islands Bay, has that sense of place and more… including an onsite art gallery showcasing the vibrant, far-ranging style work of at least a dozen local artists. As a bonus, restaurants Sugar Club and Carmichael’s – voted the best fine dining in Antigua – draws savvy locals as well as guests from other resorts on the island.
But I particularly celebrate the spa, the only AVEDA Concept Spa in the Eastern Caribbean. As intimate and personal as the setting – four treatment rooms – the menu has the full range of massage, skin care and body treatments with the AVEDA mandate of botanically derived products. I chose the “Chakra Balancing Treatment,” buny choices would be as good. Why?
Because the technicians are local, have great energy, and fit the treatment to the client’s individual needs (sometimes changing mid-stream when the occasion calls for it). That’s what happened to SpaWatcher. Thinking I neeed an energy boost, aromatic massage and chakra pressure points told the lovely Sharon instead that major relaxation balance was in order. Here was a place where the technicians were Antiguan, well-versed in healing energy and the abundant island botanical bounty – mangos, guavas, black pineapple and every fruit and herb on earth thrive here. They know how to use it: I was balanced, relaxed and with senses heightened after.
There were other insights as well, not to be shared. But I knew that this spa and technician were the real deal. And that is what a good spa does. It gives one spirit of place, local botanicals, expert ministrations … and a bit of energy you didn’t have before. Brava Sugar Ridge!
P.S. The double rainbow over the resort after my treatment happens all the time, right?
Mary Alice Kellogg, a New York-based writer and editor, is a recipient of the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award for Consumer Reporting. A contributor to many national publications, including Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, Bon Appetit and GQ, she has reported from 120 countries and five of the seven seas to date… and counting.Visit MaryAlicekellogg.com