Be Well: Jasmine Spa & Wellness

Be Well: Jasmine Spa & Wellness

We were nearing the end of a whirlwind trip through the Dominican Republic that started in Santo Domingo in the south and was ending in Sosua in the north. Our itinerary had been nothing short of hectic:

  • We ventured into the Colonial Zone of the nation’s capital;
  • Without another tourist in sight, we found the courage to make our way to the dance floor of a Santo Domingo discoteca to merengue with the locals;
  • We suffered severe panic attacks when we discovered that our bank accounts were frozen and that we couldn’t access ANY of our money;
  • We endured rolling power outages in Cabarete that left us with frustrating trickles of shower water and gave us no choice but to sleep in the sweltering humidity of our townhouse rental;
  • We worked on a neighborhood beautification project with a local charity;
  • We surfed for the first time ever;
  • We got a firsthand view of life in the Dominican outback;
  • We survived our first water rafting experience in the raging waters of Jarabacoa; and
  • We faced death threats from a disgruntled local who flipped out when he realized that we weren’t going to pay him for pointing us in the direction of an ATM.

To say the least, each day of our stay in the Dominican Republic presented a new challenge. And we were moving so quickly through the country, that we welcomed an entire day to devote to rest.

While planning our trip to the Dominican Republic, I realized that our itinerary was going to wipe us out, and I figured that a spa day retreat would be just what we needed to wind down and mentally prepare ourselves to return to Los Angeles. Enter, Jasmine Spa & Wellness.

Our host, Zahir, picked us up from our hotel in Sosua and drove us to the spa which is located in the hillside of Tubagua in Puerto Plata. When we arrived, I was surprised to see that the spa looks and feels more like a home, not a spa, which makes it the perfect retreat.

After we were assigned to a day room where we could change, shower, and rest, Zahir took us on a tour of the property to show us the grounds, the plants, and the animals.

 Along the way, he explained that he and his wife, Anis, moved from frigid Ottawa to the warmth of the Dominican Republic to start a new life. They purchased the 40 acres that the retreat sits on and built their home and the spa on it. Anis later explained that they wanted to ensure that Jasmine Spa & Wellness contributes to the local community, so they employ locals who receive training and education to provide therapeutic treatments to guests.

Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of

As we walked, Zahir frequently stopped to point out various plants and to explain their medicinal purpose. Jave often jumped right in volunteering information. Growing up in Jamaica, like many islanders, Jave grew up learning about a variety of plants and what ailments they can be used to remedy.

Our group soon split up. While my brother Aaron and my cousin Travis got their massages, Jave and I went for a horseback ride with Zahir and Radhames.

I’ve been horseback riding before, but this was a first for Jave. As usual, he learned quickly and looked like a natural on his horse. I was a bit nervous due to the steep, sloping hillside, but Radhames reassured us as he led the way.

At one point during our ride, we made our way to a flat, open field. I noticed that Zahir began to pick up speed, but I was able to hear him accept a call on his cell phone. “I’m in my office right now,” he said to whomever he was speaking, reigns in one hand and his cell phone in the other. At that point, I was reminded of just how badly I want to make a permanent move out of my cubicle back at home! This is his office?! Wow!

We made our way back to the facility where we met up with Aaron and Travis who were sipping tea and looking ridiculously relaxed after their massages.  Zahir and Anis introduced us to their donkeys. Aaron and I are seen here with baby Kalu…

As Aaron and Travis headed off to enjoy their horseback ride, Jave and I made our way to the massage cabanas.

To lay face down on that massage table without a care in the world getting the kinks massaged out of my neck and shoulders while feeling the cool breeze dissipate the humid air was absolute heaven! Needless to say, I never wanted my massage to end!

Jave is looking and feeling refreshed after his massage

When our massages ended and when Aaron and Travis returned from riding, Zahir took us down to the property’s natural mineral pools. The pools fill up with water whenever it rains, and they provide a relaxing place to take a dip and cool off from the Dominican heat.

Soon enough, Zahir returned to escort us back up to the facility where we showered and freshened up before eating. We enjoyed a late afternoon lunch in the dining room where we were served organic chicken with rice, fresh veggies, and a cool glass of tamarind juice which Zahir (and Jave) advised helps to aid with digestion.

If you’re looking for rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation in the Dominican Republic, then Jasmine Spa & Wellness is just what the doctor ordered. In fact, Anis told us that many people retreat to Jasmine Spa & Wellness for days or weeks at a time following surgeries, chemotherapy, or other medical treatments. And now that I’ve been, I can totally see why.

While spa treatments are conducive to fostering physical beauty and health, Jasmine Spa & Wellness encourages TOTAL wellness – from the foods we eat, the activities that we participate in, and our everyday surroundings.  To top it off, Zahir and Anis are such gracious and accommodating hosts. When in the Dominican Republic, I couldn’t think of a better place for a health retreat!



Have you ever been on a health and wellness retreat?

Comments 2

  1. Freya
    Apr 4, 2013

    That sounds like the perfect place for me 🙂 I have never seen such an original and special SPA. Most of the time it is about the massages and so on, but wow what a great idea to have horse back riding first.

    • Dana Carmel
      Apr 4, 2013

      I know – Jasmine Spa is truly unique! I wish I was back on one of those massage tables right now!!


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