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Holidays are rarely conducive to health and wellness – that is, unless your idea of wellness constitutes sipping margaritas and eating everything in sight, all the while barely moving an inch off your sunbed.
That’s why, when i heard about sandals royal barbados’ new tranquillity collection – a health and wellness themed concept within the resort – i had every intention of spending my holiday masquerading as that girl: smoothies for lunch, sunrise yoga, beach meditation, you know the drill.
But, with sandals being a five-star, all-inclusive, adults only resort, with 20 restaurants dotted around sandals royal and its sister resort, sandals barbados, which guests from both resorts are able to access, and countless poolside bars, i soon realised that i may have been a little naïve.
Arriving on a rainy wednesday afternoon, sans suitcase thanks to the uk’s airport troubles, my partner and i were greeted by monique, one of three butlers who would be taking care of us during our trip, who showed us to our room, a south seas hideaway crystal lagoon oversized butler suite with balcony tranquillity soaking tub, aka, a huge bathtub-for-two ideal for relaxing.
From the off, we knew that relaxation was the main focus and, after being handed our ‘butler phone’, which we could use to contact any of our assigned butlers to help with making reservations, leaving the resort and other basic necessities, we knew we were going to be looked after.
Despite rarely using the butler service, except to reserve early-morning sun loungers at the beach or pool, we barely lifted a finger, something neither of us are used to.
A room geared towards relaxation
Our room had ocean views, a large balcony with an alfresco dining set and soaking tub, as well as another, soaking tub indoors.
The main attraction, though, had to be the Sandals Tranquillity Blissful Bed™, the comfiest king-sized bed I’ve ever had the pleasure of sleeping on. Genuinely.
The room also featured an aromatherapy system, blackout blinds and curtains, a spa-level bathroom and a fully-stocked minibar.
Staying in the South Seas Hideaway, health and wellness was at the forefront, with two health-focused eateries as well as a quiet pool tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the livelier parts of the resort.
Healthy food options
The greenhouse restaurant had a quaint, rustic feel, with healthy breakfast and dinner options including a lobster omelette for breakfast and seared salmon with bell pepper and almond romesco, sundried tomato, charred kale and farro salad (a personal favourite).
For lunch options, the heart & sol deli serves to-die-for sandwiches and wraps and fresh juices and smoothies.
On our first morning, we decided to go for breakfast, opting for overnight oats and an acai bowl. Both were delicious.
There were also tons of other healthy food options at other restaurants across the resort, especially for breakfast.
Wellness facilities and activities
In terms of hard wellness offerings, there were four morning yoga sessions per week, starting at 7:15am over on the sandals barbados site.
Stationed outdoors on a wooden pavilion, the yoga area is gorgeous, and, when i did manage to wake up early enough to take part, even a torrential downpour didn’t stop our instructor from teaching the class, which left me feeling loose and relaxed all da
There are two fitness centres across both sites, and both have better facilities than you would usually see in a hotel gym, especially if you’re into strength training.
We nabbed ourselves a training session with personal trainer ian alexander (not included in the price of the holiday), who was both super friendly and extremely knowledgeable, and forced ourselves to work out in the gym – which is metres away from a doughnut store, fyi – a few more times.
One of our favourite experiences at sandals was our very first couples massage, which also isn’t included in the price of the holiday.
We opted for the new himalayan salt stone massage, a full-body hot stone massage centred around balance and relaxation (it also sorted out the stiff neck i’d acquired on the flight over).
While the wellness offerings were great and very well-rounded, they’re hardly the main attraction of Sandals Royal Barbados.
The resort features nine restaurants, plus 11 more at Sandals Barbados, all serving high-quality, fresh ingredients by chefs from all over the world.
Two highlights had to be Chi, an Asian fusion restaurant where I had the nicest sushi I have ever tried as well as a delicious seafood Thai red curry, and Kimonos, a teppanyaki restaurant perfect for making friends with other holiday goers. But our favourite restaurant – and seemingly that of the staff – was Butch’s Chophouse, a New York style steakhouse.
While sometimes a little windy, the beautiful white sands and crystal clear waters of Maxwell Beach were an absolute dream, with paddle boarding and windsurfing activities available most days.
There are three more pools: a beach-side infinity pool, which is the liveliest of all the pools, featuring a live DJ, poolside games and a water aerobics class, the South Seas pool, which features a swim-up bar and, best of all, a small rooftop pool overlooking the main infinity pool, with insane views of the Atlantic.
And of course, while resorts are great, and wellness isn’t so easily attainable while exploring a new place, we made sure to get out and enjoy the culture of Barbados, spending Friday evening at Oistins Fish Fry, only a 30 minute stroll away from the resort.
We also explored the island and swam with turtles on the Sandals Catamaran, spent a (very hot) afternoon exploring Bridgetown, the country’s capital, and took a driving tour around the island, seeing Rihanna’s old neighborhood and experiencing the blissful beaches of the west side of the island, also known as the Platinum Coast.
When i heard about the tranquillity collection, i expected a full-blown wellness retreat.
Considering its wellness offerings, i absolutely could have done that; with an onsite gym, spa facilities, morning yoga classes and two health-focused eateries, sticking to any kind of healthy lifestyle while holidaying at sandals would be far from difficult. That is, if you have self-restraint.
Beyond the greenhouse restaurant and heart & sol deli, there are 18 more restaurants, with all-you-can-eat pancakes at breakfast, wonderfully extravagant dessert options and, not to mention, all-inclusive bar access.