Lucy Douglas

Lucy Douglas has 6 articles published.

Lucy Douglas

Lucy is a freelance journalist with an impressive resume writing about beauty and travel. She’s been lucky enough to road-test some of the world’s most spectacular spas, luxurious hotels and weird and wonderful beauty treatments to let discerning readers know what’s worth their cash.

What to expect in a Maldives villa

in Villas by

When is a villa not a villa? When you’re booking a luxury Maldives getaway, it can be hard to know exactly what it is you’re booking. Villa, suite, bungalow, residence, condo, resort… everywhere you turn someone is using a different word to describe the same thing, or what you thought you were looking turns out to be something different.

So to help you out, here’s a quick cheat sheet to help you choose.

Resorts

Being made of up of more than 1,192 islands, the Maldives is rich pickings for private resorts from the big hotel brands. On the larger islands, you’ll find them lining private stretches of beach, only accessible to guests. More exclusive resorts take a smaller island to themselves, so the only people you’ll see on the island are other guests or staff of the resort.

Either way, they’ll offer a full service with restaurants, a bar and facilities for guests, plus a range of rooms, from hotel style blocks to free standing suites.

Bungalows & water villas

This is usually resort-speak for watertop, stilted suites. It’ll usually include a spacious, en-suite room, plus a balcony with stunning views across the Indian Ocean. More premium suites might feature a separate living space or dressing room as well. Some resorts may use this lingo for detached suites on the shore with a private pool.

They’re still part of the resort, so the accompanying dining options will be the resort’s house restaurants and bars.

Residences

What you might identify as a villa (if you’re European) or a condo (if you’re from North America). The Amilla Beach Villa Residences are four-, six-, and eight-bedroom properties, with their own stretch of crystal white sand beach and private pools, and fully self-sufficient with kitchen, bar and facilities.

The Amilla Beach Villa Residences are on a tiny swathe of land in the Baa Atoll, to the north of the Maldives archipelago. There are eight villas in the collection: six with four bedrooms, the six-bedroom Amilla Villa Estate, and the eight-bedroom Great Beach Villa Residence. The expansive pool-side terraces lead down directly on to each villa’s private stretch of pristine beach.

Each villa is run by a team of staff, headed up by the katheeb (or housemaster) who’s responsible for overseeing guests’ stay at Amilla’s residences,

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Maldives Spa Massages and More

in Leisure by
Comfortable loungers at Maldives beach

It’s hard not to relax at Amilla Beach Villa Residences, surrounded by the pristine sand and glassy waters of the Maldives’ Baa Atoll. But to go the extra mile, check out the Residences’ Javvu Spa.

Everything on offer at Javvu Spa reflects its commitment to the three pillars of wellness: movement, spirituality and spa. The menu offers a holistic approach, with a wide variety of fitness classes and wellness consultations to boost body and mind, and a carefully chosen range of the best therapies harnessing powerful techniques from around the world.

MOVEMENT

A luxury villa retreat on a tropical island paradise may not be the first setting that springs to mind when your goal is getting into shape, but Javvu Spa at Amilla Beach Villa Residences is the perfect place to boost your fitness level. The Maldivian Warrior Workout, for example, makes use of the natural surroundings on Baa Atoll to target different muscle groups; climbing, pulling and pushing against trees on the beach, and sea swimming to increase resistance. There’s also powerful kickboxing classes, to whip yourself into shape, and functional training to build up strength in the muscles you use day in, day out.

SPIRITUALITY

Of course, we could file yoga and Pilates away under movement and fitness; they’re both proven techniques for improving muscle strength and flexibility. But start the day with a round of sun salutations on a yoga deck in the Indian Ocean, and even a hardened sceptic of yoga’s spiritual benefits will crumble. Private sessions in Javvu Spa’s yoga pavilion focus on breathing and meditation to bring you to a state of complete calm and presence.

Maldives massage at Amilla

SPA

Saving the best until last. Javvu Spa’s highly skilled therapists are trained in the Pure Massage Style as well as being fully committed to giving you the best quality treatments with your preferences in mind.

Pure Massage, designed by London-based massage expert Beata Aleksandorowicz, is rooted in the Swedish Massage style, perhaps one of the best-known massage techniques and for good reason. It focuses on healing muscles, with long, gliding massage strokes that follow the direction of blood circulation around the body. These movements not only work out the knots and tensions in muscles, but also decrease toxins and improve circulation,

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Ayurvedic Massage in Sri Lanka

in Leisure by
Villa Pooja Kanda setting for ayurvedic massage

As well as its wealth of historic temples and rich culture, Sri Lanka’s wellness traditions are a feast to discover on a trip to its picturesque shores. Among them is the ancient healing system of Ayurveda, which is still practiced widely in Sri Lanka and neighbouring India.

Ayurvedic traditions are thousands of years old; some estimate they have been passed from master to disciple for more than 5,000 years and that Ayurveda is the oldest healing methodology in the world. The beliefs and practices central to Ayurveda have given birth to other natural healing methods, such as homeopathy and polarity therapy, while Sri Lankan massage therapies use the age-old healing techniques of Ayurveda to restore the body and balance the mind.

Indeed, Ayurveda means ‘knowledge of life’, and the core philosophy of the Ayurvedic system is that the key to health is a balance of your three doshas – energies we all have in our bodies, known as Vata, Pitta and Kappa.

As a form of traditional medicine, Ayurveda uses plant-based treatments to heal and boost physical and mental strength to prevent illness. For many locals in Sri Lanka, Ayurveda is a total way of life that incorporates diet, daily yoga practice and regular meditation. But you don’t have to go the whole hog to appreciate the benefits of Ayurveda. Massage therapies are an important part of Ayurvedic medicine, and as well as having many reputed health benefits, they are also deeply relaxing.

We’ve got the low down on ayurvedic massage treatments and what to expect.

Ayurvedic Body Massage

Ayurvedic massage is a great introduction to the ancient practice of Ayurveda. Aficionados believe massage plays an important role in healthcare, helping to detoxify the skin and body, and improve digestion. Hard-core Ayurveda purists will have a full body massage – known as abhyana in Sanskrit – everyday, for general mind/body support.

We’re not saying a daily massage is de rigueur (although there’s no reason why you shouldn’t –you’re on holiday after all, so why not treat yourself?). One will be enough to give you a taste of the traditions that are interwoven in Sri Lankan culture, plus it’s a wonderful way to relax on vacation. That said, once you’ve tried it, chances are you’ll soon be booking another.

WHAT TO EXPECT: You may start with a consultation about your health,

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Beach reads for your trip

in Tips by
reading in a hammock

Want some tips on what to read this summer? To keep you company in the airport lounge or by the pool, here is our pick of new book releases for summer 2017, plus some classic reads that bring to life the island paradise in Bali, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness – Arundhati Roy

The writer’s eagerly anticipated second novel comes 20 years after her breathtaking first, award-winning The God Of Small Things. It’s a sprawling story; its various settings across India, from the hubbub of Old Delhi to turbulent Kashmir, serve as backdrop to a vast cast of unique characters. It deals with issues from the personal – abandonment, transgender issues – to the social – partition, Kashmir independence – vividly brought to life in Roy’s superlative lyrical prose.

Standard Deviation – Katherine Heiny

Described by the Washington Post as a “blissful summer novel”, Standard Deviation tells the story of Graham and his inimitable second wife Audra, a kind of 21st Century, sexually liberated version of Jane Austen’s Emma – curious, well-meaning, and an insatiable gossip. The novel is a brilliantly funny look at mid-life, marriage, and raising children with learning difficulties (their son has Asperger’s and is a prodigal talent at origami).

The Trouble with Goats and Sheep – Joanna Cannon

Who doesn’t love a mystery seen through the eyes of curious children? The Trouble With Goats and Sheep follows two 10-year-olds’ mission to uncover the bewildering disappearance of their neighbour in the searingly hot English summer of 1976 (seriously – ask any Brit over the age of 50 and they’ll tell you about the summer of ’76). Equally heartwarming and gripping, it’s also a wonderful window into the idiosyncrasies of small town British life in the 1970s – and the Brits’ obsession with weather.

All Grown Up – Jami Attenberg

The story of 39-year-old Andrea – single, child-free and living in New York City – may sound like tired chick-lit you’ve read before, but Jami Attenberg’s fifth novel is anything but. In Andrea, Attenberg has created a brilliantly nuanced heroine – flawed, human, and likeable. This wry commentary on how the grass isn’t really greener on the other side is sharply funny, and sometimes raw and tragic. The Guardian rates this as the author’s best novel yet.

White Tears – Hari Kunzru

A sharp satire of cultural appropriation and the urban white privileged youth,

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Balinese Massage: Timeless Therapy in Sumptuous Luxury

in Leisure by
Puri Bawana Bali massage bale

From its thriving yoga scene to its serene spa retreats, Bali is synonymous with wellness. The island’s postcard-perfect scenery of lush green mountain sides and spectacular beaches make it the perfect setting to zone out while enjoying its blissful traditions of holistic healing.

To come to Bali and not have a massage would border on an insult to the island’s age-old therapies. There’s a reason why Balinese massage has made its way into top spas all over the world: it fuses together deep-tissue massage with aromatherapy, gentle stretching and light acupressure for a beautifully relaxing, holistic healing treatment.

 

Villa Lilibel Massage room

MASSAGE ROOM, VILLA LILIBEL – SEMINYAK, BALI

But while you might be able to have one anywhere in the world, nothing comes close to a massage at the skilled hands of expert Balinese masseurs. Therapists use a firm, kneading massage style to stimulate blood flow, along with pressure point techniques and reflexology to help soothe muscle tension, and the aromatherapy of essential oils to ease you into blissful relaxation.

Beyond the traditional massage techniques, spas in Bali offer a host of traditional beauty therapies that use the healing properties of natural ingredients to scruff, buff, and revive skin, and leave you perfectly preened.

 

Balinese massage at Villa Semarapura

BALINESE MASSAGE AT VILLA SEMARAPURA – CEMAGI, BALI

Balinese massage

Balinese massage starts at the bottom and works up, so as you lie face down, the first port of call for a Balinese massage is your feet. Your therapist will use elements of foot reflexology to stimulate pressure points on your soles, and gently stretch out the lower legs.

The deep tissue work begins on your lower legs and works up to the backs of your thighs – perfect for soothing aches and pains after a run or a hike up one of Bali’s spectacular peaks. Then your therapist moves to your back, targeting pressure points along the spine and combining kneading and stroking massage styles to boost blood circulation and gently remove knots in your shoulders.

After you turn over, your therapist works bottom to top again, beginning with the feet and moving up your legs. Balinese massage includes work on the stomach, believed to benefit digestive and reproductive health. The treatment finishes with a gentle massage of your scalp and forehead.

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