The renowned St Lucian resorts of Rendezvous and BodyHoliday have much more in common than their all-inclusive offerings and incredible beachside locations. Inspiring Travel Company’s Aileen Quinn takes a look at these popular properties and the family story that links them together.
Rendezvous is a piece of paradise designed for couples searching for a romantic retreat. Set on the picturesque sands of Malabar Beach, the resort refers to itself as ‘the place of stolen time’ due to its focus on allowing guests to truly step out of the day-to-day and be in the moment together. The generous all-inclusive offering definitely helps; with everything built into the holiday price, from watersports to drinks at the Champagne Bar.
Once you’re at Rendezvous you needn’t think about money at all, you can leave your wallet in your room and get on with enjoying your surrounds and the company of the one you love!
A world leader in health and wellbeing holidays for over 20 years, BodyHoliday makes each guest the tantalising promise: ‘give us your body for a week, and we’ll give you back your mind’. And with a winning combination of all-inclusive luxury living and a tailored, innovative wellness focus, this promise has held true time and time again. Guests enjoy healthy fine dining at the acclaimed TAO restaurant and a complimentary 50-minute spa treatment on every day of their stay. Those who want to really deepen the wellness experience can opt for the BodyScience programme, which involves unprecedented levels of individually tailored treatments, including scientific tests to determine the ideal approach to personal wellbeing.
Family-owned and run resorts are abundant in the Caribbean, but few can trace their roots quite so far back as the Barnards, the family behind Sunswept Resorts (the collective name for Rendezvous and BodyHoliday). Arriving on the Mayflower, the family first settled in Carolina before migrating to the Caribbean. By the 19th century they ran a successful coal mining business – a surprisingly dominant industry in St Lucia at the time – and later invested in sugar. It wasn’t until the mid-20th century, however, that the family’s business acumen turned towards hospitality under Denis Barnard.
Born in the early 20th century, Denis was just six-years-old when he was orphaned during the Spanish Influenza pandemic, but that never seemed to quell his zest for life. Educated at an agricultural college in Trinidad, he returned home to reinvigorate the family sugar business and, in 1932, founded a rum distillery that still operates today. In the 1950s, Denis and his wife Marguerite decided to buy a plot of land on Vigie Beach and built a beautiful getaway for themselves; a new house which they called Malabar, sound familiar?
The family today loves to tell stories of Denis’s hospitality, even before he became a hotelier. Malabar was built with a large, tiled bar that looked out onto the beach and he would often get chatting to tourists who were walking by and invite them to have a drink and to stay for lunch or dinner. The Barnard’s guests often mistook their home for a restaurant and hotel and attempted to pay their bill at the end of the meal! In the 1960s the growth of travel to the Caribbean prompted Denis to seize an opportunity and build a series of guest cottages along the beach, marking the birth of Malabar Beach Hotel, or Rendezvous as it’s known today.
Ever the innovators, when the 1980s ‘keep fit’ craze hit, Denis’s son Craig (the President of Sunswept Resorts today) saw a gap in the market and created BodyHoliday, which has grown into one of the world’s premier luxury health and wellness hotels. Today, Craig’s son Andrew, who has been in and around the hotels since childhood, is the group’s Deputy Managing Director and it seems these stellar resorts will be kept in the family for years to come.
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This feature is one of the many inspiring travel articles in Other Shores; the ITC Travel Group magazine. Order your free copy today on our brochure request page.