I Went on a Super-Fancy 3-Day Wellness Retreat and Turned Into Gwyneth Paltrow
On Wednesday, November 9, the day after Donald Trump was elected to be our nation's 45th president, I hopped on a plane and left the country. All right, so maybe I had been planning the trip abroad for over a month and going overseas was totally unrelated, but I had to laugh at the sight of all the eager faces boarding an international flight that day.
I was on my way to The BodyHoliday in St. Lucia, a super-swanky all-inclusive resort where celebrities like the late Amy Winehouse, NFL player Randy Moss, and several other A-listers (whose names couldn't be revealed for privacy reasons) have stayed to detox and unplug.
The resort boasts the slogan "Give us your body for a week, and we'll give you back your mind"—a pretty tall order, if you ask me. And since I would only be staying for three days, I wondered just how much of my mind I'd be getting back. (Spoiler: a lot.)
The trip began in a chopper ride in the pouring rain to the resort over the mountains in St. Lucia. "Is this safe?" I asked the pilot. He assured me it was, though he did take a sharp turn at one point when we hit a wall of white clouds and zero visibility. My hands were sweating so much you could have wrung them out.
When we finally got to the resort, I was quickly ushered to my room to drop off my luggage before a 5 p.m. "wellness experience" of my choice. As soon as I entered the room, I was stunned by the incredible balcony view of the ocean but simultaneously a bit bummed there was no television. (I was on a gorgeous island with a white sand beach right outside my door, but I was concerned with how I'd be able to watch Bravo and other mind-numbing television shows…) I shrugged it off and made my way over to the pavilion for an Ayurvedic back massage, whatever that was—it just sounded nice to me on paper.
I expected a nice massage room, but I was blown away by the wellness mecca I encountered. The sun had already set, so the lights glittered off a giant pool in the center of the pavilion (or The Oasis, as they call it), which was surrounded by a building made up of individual rooms and a masseuse standing outside each door. It was perfectly quiet, save for the sound of tree frogs humming. Paradise found.
I made my way into my room, slipped into the bed face-down, and awaited the masseuse to come in and give me my treatment. She started off with (lots) of warm oil while rubbing my back, focusing on my spine and arms and kneading into sore spots I didn't even know I had. What followed, however, was totally unexpected. The masseuse stopped, grabbed what felt like giant tea bags, and began tapping them on my back, legs, and bum. I knew what this was—Byrdie editorial director Faith Xue wrote about it before. It was Gwyneth Paltrow's favorite detox treatment called Pinda Swedhana where sacks of herbs are dipped in oil and bounced off your skin to soothe your muscles and relieve tension. I almost started laughing when she was quite literally smacking my backside with these herb sacks, but I felt like a million bucks when the treatment was over with, so it was all worth it.
As for the food… where do I begin with the food? Everything is prepared in such a way that's super healthy and nutritionally balanced, and, not to mention, absolutely delicious. From Mediterranean-inspired dishes to healthy desserts to a salad bar I've had dreams about since, every single meal was to die for—they even have nutritionists and dietary specialists who will chat with you before you arrive to pre-arrange a customized diet.
But if you're thinking this is one of those "dry" resorts—it certainly isn't. Alcohol flows like a river—the manager even said that they don't stop serving drinks until everyone has left the bar. So, in that respect, I didn't expect too much of a physical detox considering the fact I'd gulped down fruity drinks like I'd never be able to have one again and asked the bartender to re-light my flaming shot so that I could "take a video on Snapchaaaat" (ugh, that poor bartender). But, if you practice resistance and self-control (like I obviously hadn't), then you'll certainly reap all of the physical detoxing benefits you could ever want during your stay.
On day two, I took a swim clinic with former Olympians Kerri-Anne Payne and her husband, David Carry (who told me in his Scottish accent that I was a "proh-pair swim-ahr" and made my varsity high school dreams come true). The two Olympians also joined us for a 7:30 a.m. beach boot camp (which I dreaded but ultimately was so happy I attended). At the end, we were all dripping sweat and covered in sand, but we felt like damn champions.
I also sat in an infrared sauna pod for 30 minutes—another Goop-endorsed treatment—and was told I'd burn close to 600 calories just sitting there. Infrared saunas also help detox your body, provide pain relief, and increase circulation. It also doesn't get hot like a regular sauna—it heats your body, not the air, so it's much more enjoyable to sit through. One thing—I was told not to wear contacts, and felt it was a reasonable follow-up question to ask if they'd melt onto my eyeballs. "We can't take any chances," an employee told me. Yikes—no chances taken! I really felt rejuvenated afterward, though, and my skin was glowing. Slowly but surely, this trip was morphing me into Gwyneth—maybe I'll even name my future daughter Pear.
If you were to book your own stay at this resort, definitely stretch it out much longer than I did. On any given day, there are so many scheduled activities like water skiing, yoga, beach cricket, tai chi, water volleyball, archery, wine and food pairings, musical performances, one-mile swim races, and so much more that it's impossible to fit everything in, but you'll regret not trying to.
On day three, my last day at the resort, I actually felt emotional about having to leave. I'd made great friends, had an incredible time, and truly felt as though my entire body had been re-set. It was immensely clear why celebrities flock to this retreat to decompress, and I'm excited about one day returning. I may not have given them my body for a week, but they certainly gave me back my mind.
This press trip was paid for by The BodyHoliday. Editors' opinions are their own.
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