By Angela Caraway-Carlton.
Surrounded by black reflecting pools and engulfed in morning sunlight on the spa deck, I’m attempting to mimic the graceful movements of my trainer who’s leading me through a gyrokinesis session. “Pretend that you are seaweed swaying in the waves, very fluid and soft,” she says while rhythmically waving her upper body back and forth as if part of a beautiful underwater dance. “This helps us reconnect the natural wave motion of the spine, and we’re stimulating the nervous system.” I relax my body and begin to easily flow through the different gentle movements and breath work which leaves me calm yet energized by the end of the session.
It’s the first full morning of a three-day wellness immersion at Amanyara, an ultra-luxe resort on the island of Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos archipelago that’s a two-hour flight from Miami. After almost two years of enduring the pandemic’s stressors, I needed more than a typical vacation of lounging on a beach and downing tropical drinks: I desperately needed a reset.
There’s good reason why celebrities, athletes and even authors retreat to the indulgent island resort where rooms start at $2,500 a night. The Aman brand is known for its locations catering to nature and seclusion, and Amanyara’s position on the extreme northwest tip of Providenciales offers off-the-grid privacy. With black reflecting pools, Indonesian-style floating pavilions made of teak, and winding wooden walkways, the oceanfront property simulates a hideaway in Southeast Asia instead of the colorful Caribbean. Overlooking the Northwest Point Marine National Park, the resort fronts an abundance of otherworldly limestone cliffs, rocky coves, a private scallop-white beach, and the water is so ridiculously clear that it’s like floating in an aquarium.
While Amanyara’s atmosphere fosters sun-filled days spent lounging by the pool or at the beach club, guests can dig deeper with wellness immersion plans that offer access to top experts and focus on three pathways: weight management and transformation; detox and cleansing; and mindfulness and stress management. After a phone call with Amanyara’s wellness manager Toby Maguire the month before my trip, we decided I desperately needed to dispel stress. He built a tailored itinerary that addressed my anxiety and tightly wound body.
Under the brand’s wellness plans—which can range from one day to the entirety of one’s vacation—guests take part in three sessions a day that focus on mindfulness, movement, and therapeutic treatments. Movement sessions include yoga, Pilates, gyrokinesis and qigong, to more rigorous training like bootcamp, boxing or HIIT workouts, to actively enjoying the property by snorkeling, playing tennis, paddle boarding or hitting trails on mountain bikes. Spa treatments fluctuate between intensive therapies like lymphatic drainage or abdominal massage for improved digestion, to more traditional massages that melt away tight muscles. Mindfulness sessions embrace meditation, breath work and even hypnotherapy.“People aren’t staying here a long time, so we want to find something that they genuinely enjoy so when they return home, they’ll keep doing it,” Maguire says. “We want to help guests make small changes that can have huge effects on their lifestyle.”
I started one morning with a round of acupuncture and meditation in Maguire’s office, where he taught me breathing and counting techniques that I could harness when anxiety hits. We also talked about recognizing situations that were sending me into a constant “fight or flight” mindset, and how to manage those thoughts. Since I had slept in and missed my earlier yoga class—after all, this is still vacation—I opted to use my movement time for a snorkeling trip, allowing my mind to further relax as I watched colorful fish and marine life dart around the reefs. (Though, I admit, I did need to call upon my newly learned counting and breathing exercises as I scanned the water for sharks.)
The day of my aforementioned gyrokinesis session, I moved on to a therapeutic session with Eduardo Garcia who specializes in spinal release therapy and working with soft tissue and has even created his own style of massage that you won’t get anywhere else. “This is therapy, not pampering,” Garcia warns, as he launches long, rapid strokes up and down my body coupled with deep tissue massage, myofascial release, and osteopathic maneuvers that rival encounters I’ve had at a chiropractor. “The blood flows faster and the body temperature increases, and by doing this the whole treatment, I literally stress the muscle and the muscle sweats. The result from fast and deep pressure is the muscle drains the toxins and ultimately relaxes,” he explains. I’ll just say it—it was the best massage of my life. I went in with neck pain and my upper back plagued with knots but felt like I had a new body as I headed from the spa to the pool to sip on rosé instead of something healthy that goes along with the wellness plan. Again, balance.
Amanyara is a place where guests could literally not see anyone else if they so desired. Individual pavilions and elaborate villas made of walls of glass and teak are purposefully hidden behind thick vegetation for ultimate privacy. Rooms serve as a haven of relaxation with soaking tubs, platform king-sized beds, and amenities such as retractable shades that slide down with a touch of button, wrapping you in a restful cocoon for the night. My oceanfront pavilion fronted a path that led to a slab of craggy rocks overlooking the water where I’d perch to watch the sea life or take dips in the turquoise sea in the mornings. The resort’s natural beauty simply adds to the wellness immersion—it’s almost impossible not to unplug and relax.
I left with a newfound interest in the gentle movements of gyrokinesis—my instructor tipped me off to some classes on YouTube that I could delve into at home—along with new tools to help keep my stress at bay. And with a new Aman hotel and residences slated to open on Miami Beach in 2024, I’m hoping for a more permanent solution when I need a wellness getaway. aman.com