Every now and then, I look forward to a day away from Roseau by escaping to Papillote Wilderness Retreat, which is located in the mountains around the Roseau Valley in Dominica’s interior. It’s only a 20 minute drive from the city and is nestled in a four-acre tropical garden not far from the twin Trafalgar Falls, which is a popular tourist attraction and is easily accessible from this hotel by foot.
But for those seeking privacy and seclusion, there are many reasons( including breathtaking waterfalls right on the site!) just to’ stay put’ on this lovely property, which has been in existence as various hospitality businesses since the 1960’s. It now operates as an intimate hotel, restaurant and spa and is the recipient of numerous travel and eco-tourism awards!
I particularly like to spend the occasional TGIF (Friday) there because I can get a wonderful massage from Ariane Magloire, who is a German-trained physiotherapist. She has a very busy ‘mobile’ practice, so I appreciate that she is available on Friday mornings at Papillote. My recovery from a persistent ‘flu and cough had been very slow up to this time. But after Ariane worked on some tender points on my chest, face and arms and quelled the painful muscle spasms in my back, I felt an inch taller and could breathe deeply without coughing! It was impossible NOT to relax on the massage table in the serene setting of the Birdwatchers’ Hut, where hummingbirds flitted to and fro through the extensive garden and cheeky finches perched on my covered feet in the hope of a taste of pure coconut massage oil.
After that sensational treatment, I felt on top of the world! And my ‘spa day’ had only just begun! While I waited for a friend to complete her massage, I wandered on trails through the tropical garden and admired the numerous plants that thrive in this rainforest setting. There are actually hundreds of them and I realized that most of those I had once recognized by name, I have since forgotten. That will be rectified on my next visit by booking a proper ‘Garden Tour’ with one of the knowledgeable staff members! It had been a several years since my last one and it is time to refresh my memories of Papillote’s prolific botanicals!
I was surrounded by nature and had only the plentiful birds for company. No other human was in sight! I had my pick of a number of natural hot and cold mineral pools so I decided to move from one to another until it was time for lunch. At the first one, I allowed the cleverly constructed cascade to pummel my back and neck to further loosen up stiff muscles and to take away some of the tenderness from the sore spots that Ariane had attended. Then I flopped on my belly, propped myself up on the edge of the stone ‘bath’ and stared all around me at the magnificent greenery and colourful flowers. This was definitely ‘paradise found’!
I relaxed in another deeper pool for some minutes and then it was time for lunch! The friendly staff, many with whom I am acquainted from previous visits, warmly and cheerily welcomed me again. We chuckled because invariably I always order the same thing – not because the menu lacks other temptations – but simply because I LOVE the flying fish platter so much that I must have it! I did savor every morsel – tastefully seasoned in a mild peppery Creole sauce with lightly fried dasheen (a starchy root vegetable) puffs and a generous organic salad on the side. I washed it down with a slightly sweet and spicy sorrel juice, which is made from the sepals of hibiscus flowers. It was really delicious!
After lunch, there was time for another soak or two on this perfect afternoon at Papillote.
My friend and I chatted with other acquaintances as we lounged and luxuriated in the hot waters a few steps from the restaurant. After a while, we descended a trail in the garden which led us to a hot pool and a cold pool in a sunny exposed area next to a lovely accessible waterfall. I heated myself up a number of times and then squealed with trepidation as I hesitatingly waded into the cooler pool. My friend showered herself under the cascade’s cold torrent but I was not so inclined on this day. In this pristine ecological environment, I could feel my body and mind completely unwinding, and all my cares seemed to float away.
Unfortunately, I did have to face the reality of driving through Roseau’s Friday afternoon rush hour. I reluctantly pulled myself away from Papillote Wilderness Retreat while maintaining complete certainty that I will return again..and again…and again…