Curtain Bluff, Wellness Tour, Antigua

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Constructed back in the mid 1960s when it was still possible to build a hotel on the beach, Curtain Bluff sits on an enviable piece of oceanfront.  As far as hotel accommodations go, one cannot get much closer to the meeting of sand and sea.  Story and photos by Anne Dimon  

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The image above was snapped from the balcony of my guest room and I could have jumped over the railing and landed in the sand. Below, one of their beautifully appointed guest rooms.

curtain bluff, antigua, wellness tour

First opened as a tennis club – the 72-room luxury boutique resort, remains a draw for tennis enthusiasts – especially during their annual tennis events in May and November. There are four tennis courts on the property plus one squash court and half a basketball court.  But there are also fitness options for those wellness-minded travelers not so much into those particular sports.

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Classes including yoga, Pilates and aqua aerobics are each offered several times a week. If guests are speed walkers – such as myself – or simply walk at a steady stroll, a twice weekly power walk is customized to suit participations.  They can also arrange for private yoga and meditation classes, and recently introduced a yoga class for children, available upon request during peak family travel times. Yoga and Pilates instructor, Girlette (photo on left), leads classes five days a week from a wooden platform embraced by foliage and overlooking the sea and hills beyond.  She tells me they can also host private yoga groups. And if tennis, squash, basketball, yoga and Pilates are not enough, there is also an onsite gym.

Of course, first and foremost in the minds of the wellness traveler is the availability of healthy food options, and I was delighted to see a good number of menu offerings with that specific traveler in mind. For instance, at the hotel’s Tamarind restaurant – a fine dining room with servers looking elegant in their black suits, white shirts and bow ties –  the menu items include dishes such as Ginger Flavoured Carrot-Coconut Soup, Antiguan Black Pineapple Gazpacho with Ginger, Grilled Vegetables with Roasted Garlic Hummus and Grilled Pita, Mushroom & Asparagus Risotto as well as grilled local fish and lobster. To name just a few.

curtain bluff, antigua, wellness tour

Additionally, on set days guests can select to dine at a Mediterranean-themed evening at their Sea Grape Restaurant, and Wellness Concierge, Shemelia, tells me that if guests fill out the online form, the resort can also customize a menu based on allergies or dietary restrictions.  For a fee of $70 U.S. guests can also sign up for a cooking class with the executive chef.

Tonight a live combo is playing appropriate background dinner music.  The words of Stevie Wonders’ famous song, I Just Called To Say I Love You, float through the air as take a sip of red wine. Yes. Wine – in moderation – can be incorporated into a wellness tour. In fact, during my recent visit to LifeWorks Health & Neuroscience in Montana I learned that one five ounce glass a red wine each day is actually beneficially in the maintenance of a healthy brain. (You can read about my experience at Lifeworks here, plus learn about simple ways to keep your brain healthy.)

There is a feeling of family here. In an industry that tends to be transient, many of the 200 plus staff members began working here in their teens and are now in their sixties and seventies. Resident Manager Wendy Eardley has, herself, been at the resort for 31 years.

One of the Caribbean’s top spas, The Spa at Curtain Bluff is sandwiched between two beautiful beaches – one calm, the other surf-ready. It’s an intimate space with five treatment rooms and a lounge facing the sea.  Guests are offered a chilled towel infused with lemongrass and ginger tea with honey, made using local bush lemongrass.

curtain bluff, antigua, wellness tour One day as I was leaving exiting the lobby to head to a yoga class, a statuesque white heron seemed to be patrolling the front entrance. Michelle Hilford, who opened the hotel with her husband in the 60s, tells me the noble bird has staked his territory and is a frequent guest.

We sit for a brief chat and I ask her to tell me about the biggest overall change with guests she has witnessed over the 50 plus years she has owned the hotel.  “Way back then, guests were more adventurous,” she says, “as the Caribbean was not yet developed for tourists.” Confirming the global shift in travel that we are current seeing, she added that “guests are looking for more health and fitness amenities. They are watching their diets and walking more instead of taking the shuttle.” Also, she pointed out that “everyone is now a photographer and a critic.”

At 57-years young, the resort belies its age “like a well-preserved woman,” say Mrs. Hilford. And the name Curtain Bluff? It was named for “the way the waves break on shore – scalloped like the bottom of a curtain,” says Eardley, “plus we’re on a bluff.”    More on Curtain Bluff

And other stories from this Wellness Tour of Antigua and Barbuda – Wallings Nature Reserve,  Colesome Farm to Table Experience and  Sugar Ridge as we make our way around the twin-island country experiencing what is offered under the umbrella of wellness.

If you’d like to share comments and/or have questions please connect with me on Twitter @AnneDimon or email editor@traveltowellness.com