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Island Spa Escape

Mary Bemis July 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine

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Perhaps it's the 230 miles of pristine white, sandy beaches. Or maybe it's the clean, fresh island air and sun that rarely wavers that make the Turks and Caicos Islands so appealing. Whatever it may be, one thing is certain: This British dependency made up of 40 islands—eight major ones and numerous uninhabited Cays—is a destination that’s growing in popularity, people and resort spas. In less than five years, the population of the Turks and Caicos Islands has nearly doubled, according to the Islands’ Department of Economic Planning and Statistics. In 2006, the estimated population is 33,202, compared with only 19,886 inhabitants in 2001. Tourism numbers also reflect the rise, with 171,456 tourists vacationing on the islands in 2004 compared with the 71,655 who visited in 1994.

“I came to the island 21 years ago to work for a development company,” says Valerie Hudson, managing director of Point Grace Resort, a luxury boutique resort on Providenciales that is home to the tiny, yet charming Thalasso Spa. “At the time, there were 1,200 residents—1,000 local people and 200 expatriates.” During this period, explains Hudson, the islands were experiencing a miniboom. “Club Med was just completed. Its deal with the government was for the latter to upgrade the airport and surface the road from the airport to Club Med. There were four small hotels. Our development company attracted a number of overseas investors. The recent boom—which is more of an explosion—started about five years ago,” she says.

The level of recent development is very high-end, attracting a certain set of travelers who are knowledgeable about spas. “The additional rooms also have greatly improved incoming flights, which is a huge bonus to us,” continues Hudson. “We find that our guests want a direct flight and that this is an important element in their decision-making process when choosing a destination.”

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Bush Medicine

Remedies concocted from barks and roots of trees, herbs and plants grown in the Turks and Caicos Islands are referred to as bush medicine. For centuries, the indigenous people passed down the knowledge of the healing properties of local plants and herbs to help cure their ailments. Bush medicine continues to be widely used, especially in Middle and North Caicos. Traditionally, herbs, flowers, plants, barks and roots were boiled down to extract the active ingredients, and then strained or mixed with other extracts. Two of the more popular plants utilized are basil and thyme. Basil, used as a tea, is meant to aid in relieving headaches and calming the nerves. As a bath, it helps to alleviate stress and fatigue, and also acts as a natural deodorant. When prepared as a tea, thyme typically is used as a pain reliever for kidney stones, and also is said to be effective for asthma and whooping cough.

Source: The Department of Economic Planning and Statistics, Turks and Caicos Islands.

On the Menu: Island-inspired Treatments

Island-inspired treatments from a selection of spas on Turks and Caicos Islands capitalize on the Caribbean beauty that encompasses the area.


Location: The Spa at The Palms

Time & Cost: 90 minutes, $215

Specially created by a Caribbean herbalist, this signature treatment is available after 6 pm. Zareeba, which translates into “protected enclosure,” is a unique island herbal steam cleansing and detoxification ritual. In a tentlike enclosure, guests inhale aromatic steam blended with freshly brewed therapeutic herbs. After the steam session, a cooling wrap and a lymphatic drainage massage complete the purification ritual. This service is ideal for guests with jet lag or sinus problems.


Location: Red Lane Spa at Beaches Resort & Spa

Time & Cost: 50 minutes, $130

A custom blend of island honey, sea salt, citrus and sand is combined in this scrub that is performed seaside. After exfoliation, guests take a dip in the warm Caribbean Sea, followed by an optional body application of suntan lotion, administered with Swedish massage strokes.


Location: The Thalasso Spa at Point Grace Resort

Time & Cost: 4 hours, $300

This package includes a body scrub, a choice of body wrap—the Micronized Marine Algae Wrap is the most popular choice of the four on the menu, a choice of facial treatment, and a pedicure or manicure. All treatments take place in one of two beachfront cabins.


Location: Spa Tropique at The Sands at Grace Bay

Time & Cost: 50 minutes, $80

Local sea salts from the flats of Salt Cay are used in this signature body scrub.


Location: The Spa at The Palms

Time & Cost: 30 minutes, $85

Hand-crushed local conch shells are mixed with a choice of aromatherapy oil in this luxurious treatment. Following the exfoliation, a Vichy shower washes everything away, and the therapist completes the treatment with an application of a hydrating lotion.

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