|SPAS WITH PANACHEThe Palms Spa, Turks & Caicos,
British West Indies
A large reflecting pool welcomes visitors to The Palms
Spa. Below: a spa treatment room.
Turks & Caicos, a pristine island chain just below the
Bahamas, is poised to become the Caribbean's next hotspot.
Posh resorts are springing up on the main island of Providenciales,
and one of the most talked-about new hotels is The Palms,
located on the island's most celebrated strand, seven-mile
Grace Bay Beach. The resort, with a neo-Palladian look inspired
by British set designer Oliver Messel, has 72 rooms featuring
custom mahogany furnishings, marble floors and terraces overlooking
the azure Caribbean Sea. There is also a large, lagoon-style,
infinity-edge pool (with white, circular mattresses for ultra-comfortable
sunbathing) and Parallel23, a hip restaurant serving fusion
cuisine by chef Jasper Schneider, a protégé
of Eric Ripert.
But perhaps the biggest buzz concerning the Palms is centered
on the 25,000-square-foot spa, set in its own building and
surrounded by lush gardens and towering date palms. Conceived
by Angel Stewart (of Golden Door fame), the spa features eight
hand-cut coral-stone cabanas around a peaceful, torchlit reflecting
pool. One of the signature treatments is the Zareeba, a steam
ritual developed exclusively for the resort by a Jamaican
herbalist (zareeba is Arabic for safe enclosure). The 80-minute
treatment, which is known for its detoxifying and soothing
properties, takes place in a private canvas tent. The participant
stirs a boiling clay pot of therapeutic herbs (lemongrass,
wild basil, rosemary, eucalyptus, etc.) that releases steam.
The rhythm at which the herbs are stirred produces the intensity
and amount of herbal steam received. A light massage follows.
Another treatment found only at the Palms is the Mother of
Pearl Scrub, which incorporates hand-crushed local queen-conch
shells, said to act as an exfoliant. You'll also find
a wide range of massages (hot basalt stone, Balinese, Swedish,
Thai), facials and salon services. Guests can enjoy yoga,
Pilates or tai chi in a shoji-screened studio or burn a few
calories in the fitness center – there is even a traditional
barbershop for men. And, certainly, the spa's most luxurious
elements include the two couples' treatment rooms –
which come with private Jacuzzis and flower-filled patios
– where you can unwind after a side-by-side aromatherapy
massage or an aloe wrap. Plus, you don't even have to
dress for dinner – stay in your robe and attendants
will serve a meal by candlelight right in your spa suite.
By Jill Fergus