Lost in Belize VIII: Finding R&R in Placencia

Belize, Dispatches from the Road, Food & Wine, Hotels & Resorts, Spa & Beauty — By on March 23, 2010 at 2:00 pm

After going on so many adventures, I decided to check out Placencia’s spa scene. Besides having kayaks, windsurfing boards, and a dive center, The Inn at Robert’s Grove has the Sea Spa to help counteract all that adrenaline. Treatments range from natural facials to seaweed body wraps to a “sunburn treatment” that uses plants native to Belize to soothe tender skin. I didn’t check out the spa myself, but I did wander into the village in search of the Secret Garden Day Spa.  The village itself is a hodgepodge of tourist shops, beach bars, and fruit stands. Placencia boasts the “world’s narrowest main street,” where people wander along the concrete sidewalk that weaves through the center of town with seemingly no agenda.

The Secret Garden Day Spa is located behind Wallen’s Market and across from the soccer field. The relaxation area is simply a round table set in a tiny garden, and the treatment room is rustic: an open-air room with two massage tables placed in the middle, and veiled only with gauzy curtains. Without the luxurious spa setting, I didn’t expect the massage itself to be so blissfully relaxing. My trained therapist used a combination of long strokes and deep kneading to release knots in my muscles and left my body buzzing. Massages here are an amazing deal: Just US $50 for an hour.

If you’re more into luxury ambience, check out the Sunset Spa at Francis Ford Coppola’s Turtle Inn. You can get a Thai massage in the open-air Balinese rice house overlooking the lagoon. Both of their trained therapists came from Thailand. Treatments are pricier, of course, and start at US $100.

Or save your money and indulge in dinner, instead, at the Turtle Inn’s Mare restaurant. You can eat while looking at the ocean and feel the warm wind breeze through the Balinese-inspired leaf-thatched roof dining area. I loved the grilled seafood with veggies that were grown in their own organic garden, and the thin-crust Italian-style pizza cooked to crispy perfection in the wood-burning oven.  And you can wash it all down with wine from the Coppola’s extensive list, including a Riesling laced with white pears and apricots, or a spicier Malbec with hints of dark cherries and cassis.

Photo credit: Mike Bristol

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