“I felt a strong need to come by here today,” yogini and healer Diana Bourel announces as she enters the spa at the Hotel Guanahani on St. Barts. “Now I know why.”
Bourel and I met years ago on Anguilla, but I did not contact her when I arrived on St. Barts. The trade winds have brought us together again.
Though known for its celebrity parties, high-season fashion, and topless beaches, St. Barts also has a quieter, more wholesome side. The French West Indies isle has long been a haven for some of the world’s top healers, who are now starting to step into the spotlight themselves. “Wellness and spas have always been here, but they have never been driven by a corporate culture,” says Bourel, who moved to St. Barts in 1988. “Like the painters in Aix[-en-Provence], people are drawn to this island’s light—and that has nothing to do with the flashing cameras of the paparazzi.”
Healers like Bourel, astrologer Hubert Delamotte, bodyworker Thierry Liot, and osteopath and masseur Christophe Marchesseau have been working for decades on St. Barts, but they have been known primarily by word of mouth. This summer, however, Bourel is partnering with some of the island’s top resorts, where she will offer her Summer Yoga Camp that has been popular with St. Barts regulars. Bourel’s five-week camp, which is available to guests of Hotel Christopher and Le Sereno on a day-to-day basis, focuses on yoga, meditation, island hikes, ocean workouts, and spiritual development. The program is part of a recent push by both resorts to expand their wellness offerings after the opening of new spas late last year. Le Sereno, a sleek 40-room resort in the eastern Grand Cul de Sac neighborhood, debuted in November a 2,300-square-foot spa with products by Ligne St. Barths, a line made from the island’s indigenous botanicals. The 42-room Hotel Christopher, set at the bottom of Pointe Milou, opened its spa in December. Combining ancient wellness techniques with contemporary practices, the facility features three ocean-facing treatment rooms with private patios.
Set on a private peninsula overlooking Grand Cul de Sac, the 68-room Hotel Guanahani unfolds across 16 acres of tropical gardens. Part of a renovation completed last year, the resort’s new Serenity Suite is equipped with an oversize jetted tub and a private pool. Guests staying in the Wellness Suite have after-hours access to the resort’s Clarins spa, where Bourel sometimes offers private yoga instruction.
“The whole island is a spa,” Bourel says the next day as she takes me through a series of energetic exercises. “The beauty of the place melts away the armor, and people, regardless of their net worth, are able to drop the persona and reboot into who they truly are.”
Diana Bourel, 514.651.7205; Hotel Christopher, +590.5220.127.116.11, www.hotelchristopher.com; Hotel Guanahani and Spa, +590.518.104.22.168, www.leguanahani.com; Le Sereno, +590.590.29.83.00, www.lesereno.com