By Candyce H. Stapen
Pedaling a stationary bike in an outdoor pool at CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa, Anguilla, freed me from Exercycle boredom. The Caribbean glistened in front of me, gulls glided on air currents in the impossibly blue sky, and the sea breezes and water immersion kept me cool. I morphed into a happy cycler and also a more efficient one since the water added resistance and softened the impact on my knees.
The blend of destination spa facilities and luxury resort amenities pulled me to CuisinArt, as did the property's location on Anguilla, a laid-back island of 16,000 people known for its sugar-soft beaches and top-rated restaurants.
A rebuilt and enhanced CuisinArt, destroyed by 2017's Hurricane Irma, debuted in November 2019. The property sprawls on 400 acres laced by a long swath of white sand on Rendezvous Bay. For this work-weary urbanite, de-stressing meant mixing and matching massages, treatments and exercise classes with resort activities. No mandatory dieting, forced exercise, digital detox or monklike asceticism here. I craved rejuvenation as well as great food, swimming, entertainment and local culture.
The outdoor exercise, part of the Spa at CuisinArt, an impressive 27,000 square feet with 16 treatment rooms, invigorated me. I signed up for stand-up paddleboard yoga, but the afternoon rain dashed my hopes of doing downward dog while floating in the Caribbean. I even considered morning boot camp at the tennis courts, but I opted for sleeping in and complimentary breakfast on my oceanfront balcony instead. This trip was all about choices.
While friends boarded a boat for a half-day sail and snorkel outing to Little
Bay, I headed to the spa to unwind in the saltwater hydrotherapy pool, nicely warm instead of hot, and in the steam room (alas, there's no sauna). After a soothing facial with lavender, I lunched at Mosaic, CuisinArt's main dining venue. Forget about mini-bite weight-loss portions. I devoured an entire dinner-plate-size BLT pizza. The "L" stands for "lobster." Delicious.
Then I resumed my spa day with a heated bamboo massage. Wooden sticks helped knead away knots of tension and concluded my coddling with a thermal mineral wrap complete with seaweed cream and an outdoor shower in the sun. Back at my room (most are oversized), I napped, lulled asleep by the breaking surf.
One afternoon at Tokyo Bay, the resort's Asian restaurant, my friends and I cooked our teppanyaki lunch. The chefs schooled us in slicing, dicing and grilling peppers, carrots, beef, shrimp and chicken. In the evening we returned to dine on Tokyo Bay's shrimp tempura, local crayfish soup with homemade noodles and Japanese-style sea bream with truffle oil. Another night the resort's rum expert detailed the beverage's birth in the Caribbean before pouring four distinctly different Caribbean rums to sample.
The evening continued with Anguillan singer/songwriter Omari Banks performing at CuisinArt's lobby bar. Son of musician and Anguillan legend Bankie Banx (despite the different spelling of their last names), Omari's style, a blend of reggae, blues and folk elements, is uniquely his own. On Friday nights, he often shares the stage with other local musicians at the Dune Preserve, his father's Rendezvous Bay beachfront bar that happens to be next door to CuisinArt. I listened to the music from my room's balcony perch and simply closed my doors when I wanted quiet.
In addition to Rendezvous Bay, some of Anguilla's spectacular 30-plus beaches are Meads Bay, Maundays Bay and popular Shoal Bay. Along with dinner at Mosaic and Tokyo Bay, I found meals to remember at Blanchards, Straw Hat, Veya and Hibernia.
A stay at CuisinArt comes with access to its sister property, The Reef by Cuisinart, an 80-room hotel fronting Merrywing Bay, a smaller sliver of sand than Rendezvous Bay. The Reef's rooms, also on the 400-acre campus, generally cost 20 percent less than those at the main resort. Guests at both facilities can play at CuisinArt's 18-hole Greg Norman-designed golf course.
Mellow from my treatments, I watched the sunset from my balcony and thought of my family. I could see the young kids romping through CuisinArt's Splash Pad, a child-friendly array of water geysers, sprays and fountains crowned by a bucket dump. I envisioned my son and husband swinging through golf and all the adults dropping out at different times for a pampering spa day. I vowed to bring them here. But at that moment, the magic was all mine.
WHEN YOU GO
For general information: www.ivisitanguilla.com
CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa offers 91 suites and seven villas in a series of Mediterranean-style buildings. Rates include full breakfast at Mosaic restaurant or a continental breakfast delivered to your room: www.cuisinartresort.com.
Candyce H. Stapen is a freelance writer at www.gfvac.com.
Follow her on Twitter and Facebook @FamilyiTrips, on Instagram @CandyceStapen, and discover www.hennyskids.org, Stapen's non-profit that gives solar-powered computers to rural schools in Africa.To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
The CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa can be spotted from Rendezvous Bay in Anguilla. Photo courtesy of CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa.