My planned stay at The BodyHoliday in September felt like a momentous, if scary, new step for me, marking the end of one way of life and the beginning of something brand new. This was to be my very first holiday as a solo traveller, following the pivotal declaration that no single mum really wants to hear – teenage sons announcing a non-negotiable end to trips abroad with their ancient and, of course, highly embarrassing mother.
To say I had been dreading the holiday before I boarded the plane would be an understatement. And yet, 11 days later, I had experienced one of the best holidays of my life and didn’t want to go home.
I asked my travel agents, Travel Designers, to find a solo holiday that might suit me. It had to be a hotel somewhere warm and sunny, reasonably luxurious and with plenty to do. When they suggested The Body Holiday in St Lucia, it sounded interesting enough for me to book, but I wasn’t holding out too much hope.
I vividly remember landing in St Lucia after a fairly turbulent flight, still feeling anxious and wondering what I had got myself into. But things improved rapidly from that point. I’d booked a helicopter transfer, having been advised that the road transfer is long and bumpy. While admiring the gorgeous views from the helicopter, I met a friendly, inclusive group of women, all return visitors to The Body Holiday. Their warmth and useful tips would prove to be typical of the single travellers staying at this resort in September, which is Solos Month. The atmosphere created by the other guests and the staff was universally welcoming and my anxiety receded faster than I had ever expected it could.
I loved the welcome we received when we reached the hotel. I can’t count the number of times in the past that I have arrived somewhere, utterly exhausted, to then spend up to an hour stuck in reception sipping a lukewarm, sickly-sweet “welcome drink”, filling in forms and producing my credit card. Well, not at The Body Holiday! I was whisked directly to my room and advised, gently, to return to reception at any stage over the next few hours to finish checking in. With the bikini that my new-found friends had advised me to move into my hand luggage, I headed straight to the pool for the last of the day’s sunshine. As I relaxed in the balmy evening heat, I felt incredibly lucky rather than terminally nervous. Maybe this wasn’t something to be frightened of, after all.
The idea of this resort is to offer guests a wonderful and quite unusual combination of a healthy, sporty holiday in a plush hotel where you can drink as much wine as you want and eat plenty of gorgeously indulgent food, if you so choose. There’s none of the austerity of the usual health-oriented holiday where you are confined to drinking juice or barred from alcohol.
And you can do as much exercise, of a wide range of intensity, as you wish – nobody will insist you attend any exercise classes if that isn’t your thing, or stop you from getting up at 7 am to do a beach bootcamp or sunrise yoga if that floats your boat (it does mine!) There are also plenty of activities such as walks and cycling trips. This is an all-inclusive holiday (another first for me) and a daily spa treatment is included in the price. I wouldn’t normally bother too much with facials and massages, but this became a regular treat that I really looked forward to.
The choice of daily activities was massive and while it was impossible to do everything on offer, I had a jolly good try. The food was of a really high standard, especially given the all-inclusive status, with a mix of buffets, mostly at lunchtime, and a la carte in the evening. Evening meals could be taken on a communal table with other solo travellers – which I found rather daunting, although a great way to meet new people – alone, or with new-found friends. The only thing I missed was room service, which is not provided as, I think, the hotel wants everyone to mingle rather than hide in their rooms. While this is completely understandable, and adds to the brilliant atmosphere at the hotel, there were two evenings when the exercise I had done in the day had left me exhausted. I would have appreciated the opportunity to order a meal in the room on those occasions.
It’s almost impossible not to make friends as a single traveller here – there’s lots to talk about, such as which treatments are the most enjoyable and which activity has proved the most fun – yet it’s also very easy to find quiet spaces to unwind, which, for a single mum with teenagers at home, was an essential part of the package for me.
Hotel staff, especially the Body Guards, who run all the activity programmes, are kind, helpful and often hilarious company. Managers are highly visible, which became very important during our last day when a hurricane hit the island. While we were asked to stay in our rooms, most guests came knocking with bottles of wine and impromptu Hurricane Parties took place in countless venues. But on a serious level, we heard that staff members had often insisted on staying at work despite their homes being endangered by the storm – this is the sort of attitude that money can’t buy. I couldn’t recommend this hotel more strongly for the way its staff treat their guests. It’s like being part of a family.
As a single traveller, I thoroughly recommend The Body Holiday and hope to return soon. The teenagers don’t know what they’re missing!
Room Tip: I loved the luxury room right by the beach but it is a longer walk