When you think of luxury spas in the Caribbean or at all, you likely think of high end resorts on some island a little off the beaten path or you might think of a well known hotel chain like a Ritz Carlton who has properties scattered throughout the world and those who have experienced one of their spa treatments know, they’re hard to beat.
That said, while I have loved every spa treatment I’ve had at a 5 star chain (and we’ve written about many of them here), there’s something incredibly raw about island energy and getting as close to nature as possible 4 or 5 star property or not, can be very healing and pampering.
I was introduced to a few basic but oh so lovely spa experiences during my recent jaunt to Jamaica for a Yoga Retreat. It shouldn’t be surprising that some of the properties who hold yoga classes and retreats have spa services on-site or in some cases, a full blown spa where you can experience it all. Be sure to read my Yoga post on Jamaica for more highlights of the trip, which while it focuses mostly on yoga, I have referenced where you can get spa treatments at each. A few more details and photos below.
Not far from the Negril Yoga Center lies the pristine Rockhouse Hotel, which not only boasts glorious views but will send you back in time to where serenity and tranquility were the only order of the day. They consider themselves a casual hotel but it exudes touches of luxury in that chic boutique kinda way, with small huts that overlook the ocean, all of which are perched perched upon the scenic cliffs of Negril’s Pristine Cove.
If this secluded property facing the wide open sea isn’t enough to get you excited, imagine having a massage from one of these thatched bungalows while you listen to the waves crash up against the shore.
They offer a signature tropical massage, which is a fusion of three powerful massage techniques; combining healing herbs, aromatherapy oils, hot poultice, bamboo and warm stones. Additionally, they have a wide range of individual massage treatments including Aromatherapy, Swedish, Deep Tissue, Hot Stone, Pregnancy and Sports Massage.
Run by Australians, their focus is on responsible and sustainable tourism and they have a fabulous restaurant on-site as well that focuses on farm-to-table practices — they try to support local farmers as much as possible and they have a fabulous growing farm on the premises as well which we took a tour of. For pampering and ocean-facing massage, it’s hard to beat — they also offer a number of great yoga classes on site as well.
West End Road
Tensing Pen Resort
I’ll be honest with you – while the yoga class I took here was harder than the others (or perhaps my body just wasn’t ready for it on the day of…), Tensing Pen was my favorite venue. The small but effective wooden floored floor where we got it “on” with Downward Dog for an hour and a half,was so serene that it just took me away to another place and time. In other words, I was able to relax, which is hard for me to do in the best of environments.
While yoga and great breathing exercises on a daily basis can be life transformative, combining these practices with awe-inspiring views while facing the soft breeze from the ocean on your face seems to transcend you even higher somehow. And, allow you to go deeper into yourself and reflect on the most important things in your life. Their local yoga instructor Fanette Johnson teaches the IYENGAR style of yoga which emphasizes alignment, balance and breathing.
The most remarkable thing about Tensing Pen is the fact that it so beautifully combines luxury and pampering with solitude. Its boutique property has thatched hut bungalows which overlook the sea, and given its idyllic location, you face cliff and ocean views at every turn. The bright blue/green crystal clear water combined with the stunning limestone cliffs off Negril’s West End are enough to turn off your work and family woes and worries for awhile.
They have a salon and a spa on-site as well, so you don’t have to be a serious yogi to have an enriching wellness experience here. Massage services are offered in a massage hut on the far north side of the property. Gentle ocean breezes glide across your body as trained therapists help you de-stress and truly relax into your vacation. Salon treatments such as manicures, pedicures, facials and hair styling may be arranged in the privacy of your cottage.
They offer traditional Swedish and deep tissue massages but you can also get a back relaxation treatment, a reflexology foot massage, a Japanese Hot Stones Massage (my favorite btw), or a four hands ultra body massage. (so wished I had time for this one).
There’s also body scrubs with sea salt and apricot and brown sugar and coco butter, and facials, ranging from facelift style and relaxation to cleansing with mud and spices.
Tensing Pen Resort
Jake’s at Treasure Beach
Jake’s focus on yoga is very integrative to the experience they provide at their boutique resort — most of the rooms face the glorious open Carribbean sea, which is core to why you sign up for a stay here, whether it be for yoga, or if yoga isn’t you thing and you just want a relaxation and spa experience. Below, the view from my room.
Below is a shot of their dock where you can relax in an old fashioned Adirondack chair.
Outside my room, I was greeted by a tiled patio which faced French wooden doors, and here, there were relaxing Adirondack chairs, comfy lounge chairs with cushions and a day bed. Lovely trees, dancing butterflies and an abundance of bougainvillea flowers lie scattered to the left and the right, with a tranquil view of the ocean straight ahead. There are many wonderful walks that you can take from any of the villas on the property and it all feels just a little “off-the-beaten” path.
Wellness is an integral part of Jake’s with a full service spa on-site. Driftwood Spa is energetically perfect, with soft turquoise blues plastered on the walls, massage tables which face the ocean and a team who genuinely care about your well-being. I had a fairly traditional massage that focused on upper body work, although you can customize your massage, whether that be deep tissue or more restorative in nature.
They also boast a number of body scrubs, body wraps, facials, reflexology and have a separate room facing a lovely courtyard where you have manicures and pedicures done and there are stunning views of the ocean from the open air massage room.
Below the inside quarters where massages and facials are done — all open air, facing the ocean….
Alas, the view from the outdoor sitting area at the spa….
A yoga class at Jake’s at sunset….
Yoga is a highlight at Jake’s since they have a couple of different locations where you can take classes, both of which face the wide open sea and seasoned instructors. We took classes in the early morning and at sunset to experience both. The yoga instructors are aware of where your practice is at, even if it’s as a beginner, and proactively recommend different postures and poses that best match your skill level and body type.
Because they have the space, they hold a lot of yoga retreats here, so it’s something to consider if you’d like to plan a getaway with a group of friends where you can eat, breathe and live yoga for a week under the Caribbean sky. I particularly liked Dr. Empress Thandi Wise as an instructor, who is also a certified colon hydro-therapist as well as a Full Lotus Birth Doula and an expert in Muscle testing EFT (Emotion Freedom Technique) and Tapping among other things.
Above the spa is one of their main yoga decks, which has 180-degree views of the ocean. There’s also a couple who teaches yoga therapy, tantra instruction and qigong and seasonal teachers offer mixed level Hatha, Vinyasa, Qigong and Pilates which can be done on one of the two yoga decks or you can also do a private class on site or in your villa. Below, before leaving….sitting on the main dock…
Jake’s at Treasure Beach
Jackie’s on the Reef
Near the center of Negril, you’ll find Jackie’s on the Reef, which is considered a spa and yoga getaway. The rooms are inside the main property for the most part although some of them are in nearby bungalows and huts on the property.
This is more of a solo wellness getaway than a romantic escape, and makes for a great choice to rejuvenate your mind, body, and spirit through alone time, which can consist of plenty of reading on the outside colorful beds, or in nearby hammocks, or taking a yoga or meditation class, which we did one warm and sunny afternoon. Below is a small pool where you can “feel” the ocean’s edge and then some. Yoga, meditation, breathing or simply reading a great book is only yards away…
Massages here are glorious and a stone’s throw from the above ocean view…..you won’t want to leave! Below, after our massage, facing the wide open sea.
Jackie shows us one of their rooms……
Outside Jackie’s veranda lies the ocean. It’s about as close to raw nature as you can get with no other sounds in the world except for the ocean calling you to be present with the earth…and with yourself.
The views were spectacular and I felt rejuvenated and then some after the magic hands of my masseuse took the pain out of my overworked muscles.
They offer a wide range of massage and treatment options on-site for it is a core part of staying here. There’s the Ion Cleanse which detoxifies the body, deep tissue and meditative massages, Reflexology and everything in between. For example, they offer Aromatherapy, which I wished I had time to try since I’m a huge believer in the value of essential oils. One of my favorite massages is hot stone, largely because they help to ease the pain in my neck and shoulders so much faster than a standard massage can do alone. It helps to balance energy and chakras, deepens the impact to ligaments and tendons and helps restore circulation.
There’s also the Bamboo massage, which is a technique that incorporates bamboo stalks of varying length and diameters to provide deep-tissue work. The massage itself promotes circulation, sensory nerve perception and lymphatic drainage and provides a deep sense of relaxation and well-being. Chinese, Indonesian and Japanese rituals and myths abound with bamboo symbolizing life energy, longevity, sexuality and fertility. In China, stalks of bamboo still symbolize eternal youth, strength, prosperity and peace. I LOVE this, although in the end, we had a fairly standard massage due to lack of time, but it was oh so blissful!
Other alternative therapies and treatments they offer at Jackie’s includes Facials, Reiki, which is energy work, Past Life facilitation, something I’ve always wanted to try, and Live Cell Analysis with nutritional counseling, which is rarely found at spa retreats. I tried this years ago at a holistic retreat in Fiji and found the results to be incredibly effective – it’s amazing what they can learn from your past health and life balance from a finger prick of blood.
Additionally, they offer an old Lakota tradition called the Rain Drop Technique, which an effective method of using seven different Young Living Aroma Oils on the spine for balancing and rejuvenating the mind, body and spirit. Cranio Sacral is available too (I believe in the power of this very subtle but effective practice) and Watsu, which is a water treatment that takes weight off the vertebrae and allows the spine to move in a way impossible on land. Stretches are applied as a way to open channels though which our chi energy flows.
Jackie’s on the Reef
West Cliff West End Road