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The Hermitage Bay spa in the Caribbean.
The Hermitage Bay spa in the Caribbean.

In Antigua, let go, relax and get your chakra fixed Add to ...

Overworking often overthrows your best intentions for maintaining mojo. Visitors to Hermitage Bay Antigua are drawn to the rustic purity and holistic approach of the hotel's wellness program. Artfully fusing the serene and sensuous, the spa's colour rituals correspond with the chakra system of the body. I opt for the Yellow Solar Plexus Chakra Ritual, which - in the words of the menu - "inspires self-confidence, encourages concentration and relieves mental fatigue." A tall order for a tall-latte addict.

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My therapist starts with a full-body exfoliation of honey and Himalayan salt, which to my relief is more hydrating than stripping. Warm oil infused with eye-opening frankincense and lemon enables a high-octane cocktail of light Reiki and deep Swedish massage.

I'm then enveloped with a silken baby blanket of a body mask while she performs nursery-rhyme-sweet hand reflexology. My eyes flit open as she thumbs my palm, glimpsing a gentle yellow light emanating from a light box on my right -which conjures a lost memory of my mother's lemon chiffon cake in my sedated mind. The vision hovers over my heart, the faint scent of citrus in the air.

My therapist makes a perfectly silent exit. This is a rarity in an industry plagued by the ghastly practice of propping up the bed even while your eyes are still closed. Nothing says "Next client, please" like the electronic prop-up, or worse, the manual one. As I slip off the bed in sweet privacy, I catch a dazzling Brazilian citrine that must have been resting on my sternum at some point. There's nothing quite so euphoric as a spa visit that unravels like a subliminal journey sans timers or set endings.

The Benefits

According to the Hindu chakra system, the solar plexus chakra is related to the metabolic system, pancreas and adrenal cortex, and involves personal power, introversion, transition from base emotions to complex. I'm caught off guard as my therapist invites me to make a joint affirmation: "I let go and relax. I will leave this room strengthened with new energy. My goals: release of unnecessary burden; self-confidence and spontaneity." Every aspect of this treatment bears a ceremonial weight that I choose to embrace rather than giggle off.

The spa

More posh cottage colony than typical beach resort, Hermitage Bay takes the slow food movement to hotel development. Six years ago, the owners cleared the land by hand, sourcing sustainable materials and conforming buildings to the landscape instead of the other way around. The practice continues to this day with the use of natural detergents and beauty products, solar energy technologies and organic fruits and vegetables from the hotel's own garden. The spa director's choice of Dorissima products is a perfect fit; created by Gianni Versace protégé Doris Brugger, the line uses aroma and chroma- (colour) therapy in a range of natural oils to balance the body's energy centre. The spa villa is set in lush vegetation, adjacent to just 25 private, spacious terrace pavilions scattered down the hillside and onto Antigua's most secluded beach.

The Basics

Hermitage Bay at Jennings New Extension, Saint John's, Antigua; 268-562-5500; hermitagebay.com; $240 for two hours.

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