Zemi Beach House’s spectacular new spa
By Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon
CJ Travel Editor
“Could I be part Taino?”
That’s what I’m wondering as I exhale and recline, my body slathered in a warm mud mask that encourages every muscle to relax as I sink further into a sensuously curved chaise.
This is just the beginning of the Taino Bathing Ritual at the Zemi Thai House Spa at Anguilla’s Zemi Beach Club, a swanky resort on the island’s Shoal Bay East. But I’m already convinced that if this is how the indigenous Caribbean people relaxed, I must have some connection to the tribe, because this process feels so natural, so instinctual … so me.
Arriving at the spa – which uniquely comprises five treatment rooms in a trio of 300-year-old Thai houses that were dismantled, shipped and reassembled on island – I’d first stripped off and slipped into the marble-clad hammam (the only one on island), where clouds of steam enveloped me and the scent of eucalyptus instantly relaxed my frazzled brain. After a few minutes I was guided by a spa attendant to a breezy and palm-shaded outdoor mud deck and presented with a pair of bowls, one containing a salt scrub scented with lavender and rosemary, the other an unctuous mud body mask.
After applying the scrub I’d felt fresh and new, my skin like velvet under my palms as I rinsed below the outdoor rain shower. And now the mud was working its magic, warming on contact with my limbs as I lay there with my eyes closed, feeling as relaxed and gelatinous as a wet noodle. Truthfully I would have been perfectly happy to remain in that spot, but there was even more bliss to come.
It arrived in the form of my massage therapist, who suddenly appeared by my chaise to accompany me to an upper floor treatment room. And there, in the climate-controlled confines of the Indigo Suite, as Severin’s strong hands kneaded my muscles with a fragrant oil, I had a realization: If, centuries after their unfortunate demise, you can still relax and unwind according to Taino traditions, whether or not you share the Indians’ proud heritage is simply beside the point. Because when it comes to spa treatments, Zemi’s unique therapy is, fortunately, an equal-opportunity indulgence.