While for some, the promise of sun, sand, and surf is incentive enough to book their next getaway, others want that along with a daily dose of wellness. According to Expedia’s 2023 Travel Trend Report, wellness getaways are growing in popularity with a more than 30 percent increase from 2022 demand. In fact, nearly half (46 percent) of global travelers are more interested in wellness getaways than ever before. While I may be somewhat biased, having covered the wellness industry for years, I can certainly relate. Whether it’s waking up to practice my sun salutations, getting back to nature, learning to make a healthy dish at a cooking demonstration, or enjoying a soothing massage in the spa, I find wellness retreats to be one of the best antidotes to our all-encompassing hustle culture.
Recently, I had the opportunity to experience Carlisle Bay’s newly launched wellness retreat, which left me with several takeaways, the number one being that I needed more than a mere reset. We’ve all heard the quote often mistakenly attributed to Albert Einstein, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” For as long as I can remember, I have felt the need to be productive. That may not sound like a bad thing except when it becomes an unhealthy source of anxiety—the constant pressure to do more. A transformative retreat is one that gives you the time and space to recognize harmful patterns (in my case, toxic productivity) and set about changing them.
If there is any place that demands you slam the laptop shut and just be, it’s a beautiful island in the Caribbean. Carlisle Bay, set on a picturesque bay on the southwestern shore of Antigua, overlooks turquoise waters, a white sand beach, and a lush rainforest. The family-friendly resort set the stage for a relaxed and comfortable stay. With wellness on the menu, I was excited to put aside my to-do list and embrace island life.
What We Love
- The Healthy Bowl, featuring a sunny-side-up egg, quinoa, toasted mixed nuts, avocado, mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes, for breakfast at Indigo on the Beach
- Daily yoga in the garden yoga pavilion
- The expansive balconies
- The relaxed family-friendly vibe
- The complimentary water activities
- Relaxing on the beach
What Not to Miss
- A guided rainforest hike up Signal Hill, which can be arranged through the resort
- Sunset at Shirley Heights Lookout, which overlooks English Harbor
- A healthy cooking demo with the chef
- Boat ride
Upon arrival, I was escorted to an Carlisly Bay Suite, which was to be my home for the next few days. There, I found a green juice waiting to welcome me. The light-filled suite featured floor-to-ceiling windows that overlooked the ocean and an expansive balcony with a table and chairs and a daybed for lounging. At 770 square feet, it was spacious with an open-plan bedroom and sitting area. The bathroom featured both a walk-in shower and a soaking tub, something of a rarity in today’s newer resorts. I especially loved that I could open the windows at night and be lulled by the sound of the crashing surf. Unable to completely disconnect from work, I would wake early and write outside on the balcony. Somehow, the scenic view, ocean breeze, and birdsong made working more a pleasure than a chore.
Healthy dining options are part of any well-designed retreat, and at Carlisle Bay, I had plenty of opportunity to experience the many venues. Each morning would begin with a fresh green or carrot-ginger juice before yoga. After, there was a nourishing breakfast at Indigo on the Beach. As a creature of habit, I couldn’t resist ordering the same Healthy Bowl every morning. It was that good! The pizza at Ottimo! was another favorite. Of course, I can never say no to Asian cuisine, which made the Indonesian, Japanese, and Thai cuisine at East an absolute must.
Beyond the delicious food, Carlisle Bay’s four restaurants all feature a distinct style. Whether you want to enjoy casual, adults-only dining with stunning views at The Jetty Grill or are in the mood for a more sophisticated experience at East, you’ll find plenty to savor at Carlisle Bay.
Spa and Fitness Facilities
No wellness retreat is complete without a visit or two to the spa. In this case, I found myself enjoying a massage at CARA Organic Beauty Spa, which offers a selection of ESPA services. While the treatment was lovely, the spa itself could use a little love. From the reception area to the locker rooms, it all felt a bit dated. I also couldn’t help but think that the spa would be much better situated away from the tennis courts. Unfortunately, the spa, as is, feels as though it’s merely an afterthought. With a refresh, however, it could truly shine.
As someone who enjoys being active, I loved the many activities available at Carlisle Bay. I especially enjoyed starting each day with a yoga session led by Tara O’Rourke in the Spa Yoga Pavilion. Based in Ireland, O’Rourke was brought in to guide us through the retreat with mindful meditation, intention setting, daily yoga, and more. She also shared her own insights for overcoming burnout, having reinvented herself after leaving the corporate world.
The retreat also involved opportunities to explore the island, such as a boat trip complete with a picnic lunch and a visit to Shirley Heights Lookout to enjoy the sunset. My favorite island activity involved a guided rainforest hike to Signal Hill, the second highest point on Antigua. After a bit of exertion, I was rewarded with beautiful views and the refreshing scent of lemongrass, which lined the trail.
Carlisle Bay will be hosting another Wellness Retreat May 19 to 22, 2023.