The charming Coral Reef Club on the West Coast of Barbados has long been known as one of the best hotels in the Caribbean. Its spa is outstanding too.
Morag Turner settled into a session at the spa on a recent visit. Read on to discover why it’s earned its place as our Spa of the Month this May.
THE PACKING EDIT
Perfectly positioned on the stunning West Coast of Barbados, the Coral Reef Club is one of the island’s most fabulous, and famous, hotels. With a beachside location and a classic Caribbean style this refined, family-owned luxury resort has been welcoming guests since the 1950s and – while many aspects of Barbados have changed over the years – the Coral Reef has retained a timeless charm, ensuring that guests return again and again. From water sports and tennis to the top-class spa and beautiful suites, this hotel is a destination in itself.
The Coral Reef Club Spa truly is an oasis of calm. Housed in its own pavilion, set back from the beach amongst the palm trees in the hotel’s lush gardens, you’re instantly welcomed into a serene space complete with mini waterfalls and foliage that make it feel as if you’re in a tropical garden. The décor takes inspiration from nature, and the colour palette is a soothing cream, sand and green mixed with dark wood and linens. There’s also an outdoor hydro-pool, a thermal suite with steam room and a tranquil relaxation area to enjoy before or after you’ve used the facilities.
The spa menu here combines an extensive selection of body and facial treatments: the signature Muscle Melt massages are exceptionally good and can be tailored to meet your choice of pressure, area of concern and preferred duration. To really give tired muscles an extensive work over, choose the 80-minute option. The session will start with a wonderfully relaxing foot cleanse – just what you need when you’ve come straight from the beach with sandy toes – followed by a deep tissue massage. Feel free to chat to your therapist and ask them to concentrate on whatever you feel your body needs, such as focused time on the lower back (always a bit niggly after a long flight) or lymphatic drainage which can also be beneficial after a long-haul journey.
The hotel’s therapists are all excellent, highly trained, extremely knowledgeable and attentive to guest needs; it’s clear their aim is to make sure you are comfortable and relaxed at all times. Expect a holistic experience no matter which of the spa’s signature treatments you decide on – each of them considers and works on the whole body. You’ll leave feeling refreshed and considerably less tense than when you walked in; it’s the ideal way to start a holiday.
The Coral Reef Club spa uses an exclusive range of natural, locally-produced products, and the oils they use are designed to nourish your skin. A plus when you’re in a hot, sunny climate that can sometimes be dehydrating.
If you choose to opt for a facial instead of, or as well as a massage, you won’t be disappointed. The choice of facials is superb and each uses products from the award-winning Natura Bissé. The Diamond Radiance Facial includes hyperpigmentation-fighting ingredients to both treat hyperpigmentation and to stop it from forming in the first place. Mums-to-be are well catered for here too, with pregnancy treatments including massage and reflexology. There are also options specifically catering for men and couples, as well as a selection of beauty treatments including manicures and waxing.
This hotel is chic Caribbean style at its best: hints of tropical fabrics with touches of coral pinks, bright greens and blues are set against fresh white walls and finished with window shutters and rattan furniture. Each room or suite is tastefully designed and well-equipped. Smaller garden cottages are ideal for couples while larger suites and villas easily accommodate families. No matter where you choose, you’re never more than a few steps away from the beach or from all of the hotel’s facilities.
Dining is a real highlight at the Coral Reef Club. Start with a cocktail at the bar overlooking the ocean before moving to the wonderfully stylish old-school restaurant where white table linen and silverware is still very much the order of the day. It’s a truly elegant experience with an à la carte menu offering delicious and sophisticated dishes, made using local produce.
There is an element of formality (men must be in long trousers) which adds to the sense of occasion and is ideal for those who love to dress for dinner. Well-behaved children can join their parents and are made to feel very welcome as the staff go out of their way to accommodate them too. Youngsters will love the non-alcoholic Shirley Temple cocktails and the children’s menu hits the spot, even for fussy eaters. The team are also happy to make adjustments to suit little ones’ tastes. This is a special place to dine and, while the price reflects that, it’s absolutely worth it for a magical evening on the beach enjoying exquisite food. Breakfast and lunch are equally marvellous, though a little more casual, and can be taken in the restaurant, beachside or poolside.
Located on the exclusive West Coast of the island, the hotel benefits from gorgeous views and calm, warm sea. From snorkelling, sailing, water skiing and fishing – water sports are plentiful here and there’s nothing the beach team can’t organise. Excellent golf courses are located nearby: ask the concierge for help arranging a game or two at the famous Sandy Lane or Royal Westmoreland courses. Day trips and excursions around the island are a must, while back at the hotel try out the gym, a game of tennis, or simply relax on a lounger on the beach or by the pool. Children are well-catered for with lots on offer in the hotel’s kids’ programme and plenty of action-packed activities for older kids too, such as jet skiing or tennis lessons.
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