written by
Anne Dimon

Beyond the miles of pristine shoreline and lush vegetation, Barbados boasts numerous nature trails for hiking, an underwater park and marine museum, tropical gardens, nature reserves with walking tours to witness animals in their natural habitat, and other natural attractions. And, of course, dozens of spas — many of which offer locally inspired treatments including exfoliation using the island’s own beautiful coral sands.

This past September, the destination introduced a Wellness Festival as part of the Year of Sports (2017). The two-day Beach & Wellness Festival included a variety of speakers, guided workouts and yoga sessions, and local chefs on hand to treat attendees to samples of healthy and authentic Caribbean cuisine.

For healthy-focused foodies who like to know exactly where the food on their plates originates, Agrofest — the National Agricultural Exhibition — is held every February in the Parish of St. Michael where the capital city of Bridgetown is located.

This system of Parishes is taken from the island’s religious roots under the Church of England, and today the country is divided into 11 parishes. But whatever Parish of Barbados yourtravels take you, you are bound to find a bit of “wellness” to enhance the enjoyment of the trip.

In the Parish of Christchurch on the island’s South Coast, for instance, Ocean Two Resort is a “four-star plus” boutique hotel hugging the shores of Dover Beach. The property is a 20-minute drive from the island’s capital city of Bridgetown, and just 15 minutes from the airport.

For the wellness-minded guests, group yoga is offered once or twice a week plus private classes are available, and select spa treatments can be booked in the privacy of one’s guest room or balcony, as well as beachfront or pool side.

Along with other water amenities available to hotel guests, boogie boards, snorkelling gear and kayaks are complimentary, and kayaking tours along the south coast of the island can be arranged, as can stand up paddle boarding. For those who prefer to take a dose of daily fitness indoors, a state-of-the-art gym is open 24-hours a day, plus there’s an option to book a personal training session with one of the resort’s certified fitness professionals.

On the food side, health-focused guests will discover that Ocean Two’s chef Michael Harrison is passionate about the “fresh, local, seasonal” culinary philosophy. Taste Restaurant, the resort’s main dining room serves seasonal signature dishes such as Braised Local Black Belly Lamb, Eggplant or Grilled Chicken Breast with Pistachio Dust, Pineapple Salsa and Sweet Potatoes, and the kitchen team can accommodate a variety of dietary restrictions. A bit of an island celebrity, Chef Harrison is the former head of the Barbados National Culinary Team.

And, for anyone interested in whipping up their own delightful dishes, the majority of the rooms in the 88-unit condo hotel come with full on-site kitchens, plus there are a number of local markets where guests can buy organic and naturally-raised products. The chef is also available to cook private, en-suite dinners.

To soak up the local vibe, guests can make the five-minute walk to St. Lawrence Gap, a mixedcollection of restaurants and bars and other nightlife spots. And, in the near-by fishing village of Oistins, fresh catch — such as mahi mahi — is available daily, while Oistins Friday Fish Fry is considered a “must do’ for those visiting the area.

For travelers who find “all-inclusive” properties more conducive to a stress-free vacation experience, Ocean Two’s sister property, also in Christchurch, is the Sea Breeze Beach House a beachfront oasis spread over two-anda- half acres of tropical gardens. Following a 10 million dollar renovation and expansion project, the 122-room property will reopen in December with an additional 44 luxury ocean-front suites, a new lap pool and The Drift Medi Spa.

The first of its kind in Barbados, the new Drift Medi Spa will offer a blend of quality medical advice and technology with traditional relaxation treatments designed to create an experience that rejuvenates guests from inside and out. They will also be adding a Health Bar serving fresh juices and smoothies throughout the day. There is a fully-loaded gym where solo or group yoga classes can be arranged, and all restaurants cater to alternative diets.

Sea Breeze is a family property with a Kids Club, but for adults looking for more than a little poolside peace and quiet, yes, there is a swimming pool dedicated to “adults only.”

The Parish of Christchurch also offers amenities such as the Raw Juice Bar Barbados, Art Splash Barbados for yoga, art gallery, and a wide variety of yoga classes that welcome island visitors.

On the northwest side of the island, the Parish of St. Peter is home to Port Ferdinand Resort and the Sandbox Tree Spa at Port Ferdinand. Located in Speightstown, the second largest town center of Barbados and just 12 miles north of the capital, the luxury resort and residence houses one to three-bedroom vacation homes in an upscale marina environment.

One of several resort restaurants, 13°/59°, so named for the latitude and longitude of Barbados, is an intimate and elegant farm and ocean-to-table restaurant serving dishes based on the fresh, local and seasonal philosophy. And nearby, the Hastings Farmers Market — where everything is homemade, home grown or home created — is open to islanders and visitors three days a week.

 Inspired by the nature that surrounds it, Sandbox Tree Spa offers a full menu of spa treatments and services mostly created using the Bamford line of products. In keeping with the line, the Sandbox Tree Spa is committed to the holistic approach to delivering spa treatments and services, and incorporates a range of traditional techniques and philosophies from Ayurveda and Meridian Massage to Reflexology and Shiatsu into their offerings. Additionally, one to three-day wellness retreat packages can be customized to include treatments plus private and group yoga, meditation and fitness classes.

Of course, the health benefits of seawater are scientifically proven and even the simple proximity to the ocean seems to create an overall sense of well-being. So for that reason alone, Barbados like other Caribbean islands is certainly an ideal consideration if the goal is to incorporate a bit of “wellness” into one’s travels.

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