Peter Island’s Secret (Holistic) Chic

Deborah Frank

The private resort and spa offers new reasons for the fitness-focused to check in.

When we wrote about Ayurveda back in 2007, sending a writer to Kerala, India, where the practice began more than 5,000 years ago, it was a traditional system of medicine unfamiliar to most Americans. It may still be relatively foreign, but for those in the know, it’s a detoxifying and rejuvenating therapy that must be personalized to be truly effective. And an experienced practitioner like Sabaree Santhanam at Peter Island Resort and Spa, a 30-minute boat ride from Tortola in the BVI, can make a week of treatments truly effective, especially when administered in a beachside cabana with herbal oils imported from India.

As part of the detox package, an hour-long in-depth consultation with Sabaree helps him create a customized program. “It’s all about balance,” he says, “and one’s state of mind. I look at signs from the nails, skin, eyes, tongue to find symptoms. Then I make recommendations to readjust the body.” Our week included morning yoga under a palm tree; daily oil treatments with neck, shoulder and head massages; Ayurvedic lunches of lentil soup, green salad, chicken and rice. Sabaree tailors each package (from $450 for a one-day program) in a loose format as a non-stringent starter to a healthier lifestyle. “I prepare a detailed study about your health, the treatments, how they benefit you in the long-term, dietary recommendations, lifestyle modifications, so you can follow them at home,” he says. And if you’re not interested in the whole package but rather a treatment or two, a quick diagnosis determines the best oil to use for a results-oriented massage.

Beyond the wellness programs at the spa, which also recently introduced a new Natura Bissé Diamond Lifting Experience facial ($260) with wrinkle-reducing and skin-lifting properties, executive chef Lisa Sellars has created a menu of healthy dishes infused with vegetables and herbs from her tiered box garden near the resort’s Tradewinds Restaurant, already considered the best in the area. We worked off the nutritious meals with a daily hike along the island’s scenic five-mile loop. The steep inclines are more intense than any Stairmaster, and the payoff of views is a gratifying reward. The loop, with its strategically located watering stations, has become so popular with active guests that the resort has introduced the Peter Island–Athlon Challenge. A dedicated Athlon coach monitors and times guests throughout such activities as a half-mile kayak course, a one-mile swim and a ten-mile bike loop. When guests complete the workout, the resort will make a donation to a local charity on their behalf. All this, plus three exclusive villas to rent, is making Peter Island the BVI’s most sophisticated fitness escape. Villa rentals start at $2,260 a night for up to six people; 800-346-4451;