5 Spring-Break Tips for a Rejuvenating Beach Vacation

The beach at Grace Bay in Turks & Caicos is magnificent.  Photo© Laurel Kallenbach

Time for a break! Winter-weary travelers seeking a sunny, healthy recharge on a tropical island need look no farther than The Palms Turks & Caicos on the Caribbean island of Providenciales. Here’s how it stacks up as a relaxing, revivifying destination—whether you’re traveling with your sweetie, BFFs, or kids.

Tip #1: Bliss Out on a Beautiful Beach

Nothing’s more restoring in winter than a sun-kissed beach. The Palms is located on Turks & Caicos’ Grace Bay, consistently rated among the best beaches in the world. It’s got white sand—miles of it to walk or jog on—and a barrier reef a mile or so offshore that creates a naturally sheltered area with calm water. Oh, the color of that water! If you like water that changes from luminescent light-aqua into ultramarine blue the deeper you go, you’ve found paradise.

Tip #2: Chill by the Perfect Pool

Yes, resort waiters will deliver food and drinks to the beach, but sometimes nothing beats hanging by the pool. The Palms’ serpentine infinity pool offers gorgeous ocean views; a hot tub; and Plunge, the pool bar/restaurant that offers in-water tables so you can sip and beat the heat!

Tip #3: Rejuvenate at a Holistic Spa

If you want to shed stress and nurture your skin with all-natural and organic treatments, get thee to a spa! The Palms’ world-class spa offers innovative treatments—including a conch-shell body polish and a bamboo massage—created from Asian and Caribbean healing traditions. Just reclining in the spa’s outdoor lounge and looking at the tranquil reflecting pool shaves 10 points off your blood pressure.

The outdoorsy spa at The Palms is centered around a gorgeous reflecting pool lined by private treatment cabanas (the white buildings that flank the pool). Photo© Laurel Kallenbach

Tip #4: Lounge in a Luxurious Room

Vacations are all about catching up on your shut-eye. Everything about the rooms and suites at The Palms Turks & Caicos says “relax”: from the spacious bathrooms with all the amenities to the fluffy beds to the daybeds on the balconies. Plus the bougainvillea-draped property is beautiful to wander through.

Tip #5: Eat Healthy, Delicious Food

The Palms’ courtyard is colorful with bougainvillea, which brightens the indoor/outdoor restaurant, Parallel 23. Photo ©Laurel Kallenbach

You need to eat right—even on vacation! Parallel 23 restaurant at The Palms serves innovative fine cuisine, and the resort sources about 40 percent of its ingredients organically. The spa has a separate menu that includes light but flavorful fare. And here’s another idea: Sign up for a cooking class and take home some of the chef’s healthy cooking secrets.

Eco-Efforts

Island life always makes people aware of resources. The people at The Palms take care to conserve where they can, including:

  • Kitchen food-scrap composting
  • An organically grown kitchen garden for herbs and tomatoes.
  • Rainwater collection for use in watering the landscaping.
  • The resort recently installed new air-conditioning controls that adjust automatically to minimize A/C use when guests leave their rooms.
  • Switching to energy-saving bulbs as current ones burn out.
  • Bottled water is widespread among guests, and recycling all that plastic is difficult on an island. However, the hotel management is investigating ways to recycle plastic bottles.
  • The staff participates in island-wide clean-up crews that collect trash on land or that washes up on the beach.

Laurel Kallenbach, freelance writer and editor

The serpentine pool at The Palms Turks and Caicos.  Photo © Laurel Kallenbach

 

 

Legendary Green Spa in Ireland

With St. Patrick’s Day approaching, it seems only appropriate to mention a green, holistic resort and spa on the Emerald Isle: Delphi Mountain Resort & Spa. (And by “green,” I’m thinking of the eco-friendly type, although in Ireland, the term certainly applies to the foliage too.)

The Delphi Mountain Resort and Spa ©Laurel Kallenbach

The Delphi Mountain Resort and Spa   ©Laurel Kallenbach

I couldn’t help but envision legendary Irish heroes at Delphi Mountain Resort & Spa, a contemporary timber-and-stone lodge hidden in Connemara’s remote fjords a little more than an hour’s drive from Galway.

In fact, on a hike through the mountain terrain, our guide regaled us with the romantic tale of Diarmuid and Grainne, lovers who escaped the wrath of Grainne’s husband-to-be (legendary chieftain Fionn MacCool) by fleeing to hiding places throughout Ireland. Diarmuid, a fabled warrior, is said to be buried on Mweelrea, the mountain that towers above the resort.

Delphi’s architectural style draws from Ireland’s ancient standing stones and Celtic tree lore—reflected in its use of storm-felled oak, ash, beech and elm and (what else?) local stone.

The spa's relaxing area offers views of the Connemara foothills. ©Laurel Kallenbach

The spa’s relaxing area offers views of the Connemara foothills. ©Laurel Kallenbach

The spa, which offers fabulous mountain vistas, is the ideal resting place for modern-day athletes just returned from kayaking, hiking, rock climbing or surfing.

Pampering body and beauty treatments are done in candlelit treatment rooms designed like early-Christian monks’ “beehive” cells. The therapists use certified-organic and herbal products, including Irish seaweed hand-harvested from Ireland’s west coast.

The health-minded gourmet cuisine—much of it local and organic—is fantastic. I happened to visit on my birthday, and I dined on an exquisite lamb dinner with chocolate gateau for dessert.

Relaxing yoga, tai chi and meditation complete this spa experience, which is nearly as epic as the tale of Diarmuid and Grainne themselves.

Legendary Environmental Policies at Delphi

  • Waste reduction and recycling programs
  • A mechanical water-treatment plant that ensures that the water leaving the resort is as clean as the water coming in.
  • Solar panels (for preheating water) and wood chip boilers that use wood from the resort’s sustainably managed forest. Electricity comes from Air-Tricity, a wind-farm operation in the U.K. and Ireland.
  • A recent addition was constructed with recycled-copper roofs, recycled-newspaper insulation in the attics, and wood came from certified managed sustainable forests.
  • Compact fluorescent light bulbs to save energy.
  • New rooms are fitted with energy-saving cards that ensure that there’s no energy wasted when units are occupied.
  • Outdoor activities designed to minimize impact on the environment.

Laurel Kallenbach, writer and editor

Read more about my travels in Ireland:

P.S. For more tips on places to visit in Ireland, visit Discover Ireland.