Just about every Bahamian has a childhood “bush medicine” story that they can share – whether good or bad – and then there’s the fact that the “bush” has been touted for generations as a cure-all for whatever ailment, rash, or lethargy a person may be plagued with. While many people in their youthful years may not have appreciated being encouraged to partake in “the bush”, many have since come to appreciate the botanicals.
And Mandara Spa at the Atlantis is now heralding Bahamian indigenous products with its Bahamian-inspired treatments – The Bahamas Botanical Collection which is rooted in the “island culture”, which it has coupled with its iced bush teas.
“Bahamians have used indigenous plants for medical and health-related purposes for hundreds of years. In our spa environment, we incorporate features into our spa programming to optimize health, vitality, relaxation, and well-being … and we want to provide authentic Bahamian experiences – that means Bahamian-inspired services that feature native ingredients to The Bahamas,” said Youlanda Deveaux, regional vice president, resort operations, Caribbean and Latin America.
Mandara has curated for its spa guests, an experience they consider the ultimate island spirit – infusing teas and treatments using the healing properties of native ingredients.
“We are taking the pairing of bush teas with spa treatments as seriously as a sommelier would take a fine wine pairing with a great Michelin or five-star rated dinner,” said Deveaux.
Bahamian lullaby is a massage to relax and soothe, featuring soursop leaf, fever grass and hibiscus flower.
Island zest is a massage to energize, featuring feather leaf, peppermint and eucalyptus.
Caribbean calm is a massage to reduce inflammation and provide a pick-me-up featuring sandalwood, grapefruit, rosemary and five finger leaf.
Each therapy has a corresponding bath and a unique element added such as foot scrub, heat pack or scalp massage.
Bahamian bush tea is served with each service.
Mandara is currently serving four tea blends.
The moringa, fever grass and hibiscus tea is a light, refreshing, fruity tea with subtle citrus notes. Hibiscus provides vitamin c, and other potent antioxidants for skin health, as well as detox properties and boosts the immune system. Fever grass is soothing and hydrating. Moringa promotes relaxation and a sense of inner calm.
Soursop, fever grass and hibiscus tea is a relaxing, hydrating, calming tea blend that soothes the soul. Benefits of the blend include skin purification and increased moisture, high in vitamins A and C and a variety of minerals, relieves bloating, boosts the immune system, helps nerves and relieves arthritis, helps with hypertension and insomnia.
Sweet Margaret, peppermint, lime and rose tea is said to be calming and refreshing. Its benefits include more radiant and fresh skin, excellent for concentration (memory), reduces bloating and discomfort, enriched with vitamin C and is touted as a great tea to consume after a heavy meal.
Peppermint, feather leaf, orange and ginger tea is a true Bahamian bush remedy for tiredness – and is calming and rejuvenating. Feather leaf provides an energy boost when tired; and peppermint is a good digestive, increases blood flow by removing toxins and purifying the blood, is rich with vitamins, and is said to slow aging.
“The bush tea flavors are 100 percent natural combinations of leaves, bark and roots, collected throughout the islands of The Bahamas by Pasión Tea and Coffee Company which was founded by Bahamian Julie Hoffer. The pairing of the combinations involves traditional blends with a flare of Pasión tea’s sophistication,” said Deveaux.
She said they selected blends for their iced bush tea that are delightful for the palate. And that choosing the flavors and aromatic blends was as important as taste.
The regional vice president said Mandara spa guests deserve environments that positively impact their health, happiness and well-being.
The Bahamian-inspired treatments were launched in 2019, then COVID hit in March 2020. Mandara recently relaunched the collection.
“Guests are in for a unique treat,” said Deveaux of the bush iced tea offerings and experience. “The feedback that we have received consistently is that they feel uplifted, and have enjoyed a true Bahamian experience, sipping the bush tea that enhances the pleasure and tranquility of island-inspired treatments and services.”
Every morning, Delano Mackey, Mandara Spa’s “tea sommelier” brews and mixes the various blends to come up with iced bush teas for spa guests, that are all sugar-free and sweetened with fruit. When every guest arrives at the spa, the first thing that they receive is a glass of iced bush tea.
Deveaux said she has found Mackey to be excited to share with guests his knowledge of the bush tea blends and the various pairings. And that he continues to work with the herbalist to expand his knowledge and experiences.
“His thoroughness and passion about what he does are so impressive that we have had guests call him after they return home, just to consult with him and ask for suggestions about what ingredients to incorporate or what to pair with the bush teas they took home. The iced teas that he makes are truly delicious.”
Mackey said his “tea sommelier” duties have opened his eyes to a broader scope that bush tea can be enjoyed and be healthy.
“I didn’t drink any bush before this. It took some time for my palate to develop. Julie has taught me that everything out there can be drunk and is good for you.”
Introducing the Bahamian bush tea to the Mandara Spa product is a thing of pride for Deveaux. She is proud they are able to give guests an authentic Bahamian experience.
“We opened this spa 20 years ago, and to offer services that are indigenous to The Bahamas … services that as children we know about – this allows us to engage our guests in an authentic Bahamian experience and passion.”
Hoffer approached the Mandara Spa-curated blends the way a chef approaches perfecting a new recipe. She said it was trial and error in coming up with blends, but she wanted to ensure they tasted great.
“Tea blending is just like cooking properly – when you cook, you want to build flavors – you want to taste the thyme, the tomato paste – and that’s my thing with teas – you want to taste the hibiscus, the soursop, and all the ingredients are pleasant to the palate.”
Hoffer, who said she has always wanted to see bush tea elevated, said she is ecstatic to have her blends served at Mandara Spa.