First, a word about the lovely boutique hotel Carl Gustaf, home to a scaled-down version of the famed Carita Spa Paris.
In short, we loved its perch, high on a hill overlooking all of Gustavia, the island capital, far below with its picturesque harbor filled with yachts. We enjoyed this view every chance we got from our suite’s own plunge pool, which we count as part of our spa experience.
After a great tour that included a peek at the two-story Royal Suite, where the Black-Eyed Peas stayed when they were in town, we had a lovely “mystery dinner,” called a blind menu, at Victoria’s restaurant.
The next day, before departure, we each had back back-to-back, 45-minute massages with Astrid, who used Decleor Aromatic Massage Balm.
St. Barth is a French island, so it makes sense the Carl Gustaf Hotel would feature a version of the famed Carita Spa of France, a brand with a long history.
In 1945 from their salon on Rue du Faubourg St Honoré, Maria and Rosy Carita, a pair of farsighted, hard-working sisters, opened shop and soon became the leading female hairdressers in Paris at what became famously known as The House of Beauty. Reaching beyond their interests in hair dressing, they took on the world of fashion and beauty by linking with daring designers who became the future stars in French haute couture. Today, their global beauty concept features three essential components – face, body and hair – with products and services for all three.
St. Barth’s Hotel Carl Gustaf was the first property to host a Carita Spa, named the Boutique Spa by Carita and housed in the lower level of the hotel’s main building. Accessed from both sides of a double staircase, one side from the lobby and the other from the restaurant, the spa’s entrance favors that of hidden shrine, in this case to beauty and health.
The exterior, flanked by potted plants can be seen while walking up the steps from the suites below.
Our first impression was that the Boutique Spa was small, but our tour with Astrid revealed much more than first met the eye. Alongside the reception area is a well-equipped fitness center , and adjacent to it is a hydro-zone area, (both pictured below) with a huge whirlpool bath, a Hammam or steam room, and Essential Oils shower, a jetted foot bath with pebble floor, and an ice fountain that sounds great for summer days or when you’ve been in the Hammam too long.
The spa actually has two levels totally about 2,150 square feet, not at all that small, and it’s well laid out to suit the needs of a boutique hotel the size of Carl Gustaf.
The changing rooms were comfortable, tastefully decorated and well designed,. The same goes for the treatment rooms.
Yet the proof of any great spa is a great treatment, and both of us totally enjoyed our 45-minute massages by Astrid. The Decleor Aromatic Massage Balm teamed with her balanced sense of pressure and technique proved professional and therapeutic, leaving us feeling pampered and relaxed.
When you visit Gustavia or stay at the Carl Gustaf, allow some pampering time in The Boutique Spa by Carita.
About St. Barthelemy
After David Rockefeller bought a property here in 1957, this little island of eight square miles quickly grew into an upscale tourist destination. Today, distinctly French in feel, it remains a chic but casual hideaway with many villas and hotels welcoming French and other visitors (about 200,000 a year).
There are beautiful beaches, plenty of watersports, plus wining and dining in the island’s varied restaurants, shopping in Gustavia’s trendy boutiques, and a variety of cultural events year-round.
Warm Caribbean temperatures vary just slightly from 86° in the summer, (July/August highs of 90°) to just 80° in the winter. Summer ocean temperatures can reach as high as 84°.
If You’re Going: St. Barthélemy lies about 150 miles east of San Juan, Puerto Rico, in the French West Indies. Flight by small plane, like St. Barth Commuter and Winair, arrive from St. Martin, Anguilla or San Juan. The island is also accessible by 45- to 90-minute ferry from St. Martin. For additional island information, visit www.saintbarth-tourisme.com. For more on Hotel Carl Gustaf, visit www.hotelcarlgustaf.com. To make a reservation, or request brochures, call 866-297-2153, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.