Beauty and hospitality is good for the soul at Turks & Caicos’ Amanyara.
It feels as though I’ve spent the last year and a half holding my breath. From the physical impact of frequent mask-wearing to the emotional fall-out of wondering what would happen in the world and if I’d travel again, it’s been a time fraught with worry. So a trip this summer to Amanyara, on a secluded 18,000-acre nature preserve on Turks & Caicos’ Providenciales Island felt like a glorious, nourishing breath of fresh air.
Katie, a friend I’ve known since preschool, flew from her New England home to join me. We cleared customs, which is more complicated these days, since all visitors to the island nation must have a negative COVID test and pre-authorization from the island’s government. Then we hopped into a private car and 25 minutes later pulled up to the resort. Greeted by a wide reflection pond framed by open-air buildings and mahogany trees with glimpses of the turquoise water beyond, I felt myself inhale the beauty on display.
We were whisked to our accommodations by golf cart, admiring the dense tropical foliage as we went. All of the 38 guest rooms are situated in timber-shingled pavilions, stand-alone structures surrounded by lush landscaping that affords complete privacy from other guests. Ours, outfitted with a freestanding soaking tub, king bed draped in soft linen and floor-to-ceiling windows with motorized blackout shades, overlooked a tranquil lagoon.
For my getaway, I opted for the Wellness Immersion, a fully customized experience. Since I only had three days on property, Wellness Program Manager Raimonda Kersyte decided to focus on general stress reduction. My program included a dizzying (in the very best way) array of private workout sessions, spa services and detailed evaluations with Kersytse, who has studied Eastern practices, herbal medicine and nutritional therapies.
I started with a one-on-one Pilates session with visiting instructor Nicole Silver, who specializes in the Erika Bloom Method. She put me through the paces on equipment including reformer, trapeze table and ladder barrel. I was amazed at how, with her gentle instruction and assisted stretching, I breathed into muscles I’d forgotten I had and left feeling longer and leaner. Later that day, after discussing some particular areas of potential growth with Kersytse, she gave me a sublime ultra-hydrating facial at the spa, an oasis-within-an-oasis, with four double treatment rooms and outdoor meditation spots situated around a glittering lagoon. That afternoon, I returned for a 90-minute nourishing scrub and wrap ritual. I imagined my therapist sloughing off a layer of pandemic-induced stress as I inhaled the palo santo-scented air.
The next day I was back with Kersyte for a morning breathwork session outdoors as tropical birds chirped in the background. Katie and I maximized our time soaking up the sun and natural beauty on Amanyara’s half-mile-long white sand beach. The water is among the prettiest I’ve seen: The effect is like millions of cut crystals, with visibility straight down, all the better for spotting the elegant sting rays that venture close to shore.
We tested our balance on stand-up paddleboards to explore the pristine coastline. We got an even better view of our surroundings on a private snorkeling excursion on the resort’s motorized boat. We dove into the azure water and followed as captain Claudin Noel led us out to search for colorful yellowtail damselfish, blue chromis and rainbow parrotfish. I love to snorkel but always stay on the surface. This time, Noel encouraged me to learn how to take a deep breath before diving beneath the surface for a closer look at the sea life. Breath rose again as a theme, and I was proud of conquering something I’d feared in the past.
For our last night, Katie and I watched from the edge of the infinity pool as the sun dipped below the horizon, painting the sky in an everchanging palette of brilliant orange, yellow, peach and red. We drank it all in, relishing the discovery of a new place, the gift of being present and the freedom to just breathe.
Senior Contributing Editor and Beauty Columnist at Simply Buckhead. Travel, Food and Design Writer and Author.