Live the fantasy in Anguilla…
I am a marine life fanatic, avid snorkeler and lover of all things “tropical sea.” So when I discovered that I could morph into a real life mermaid during my stay at the new and gorgeous Zemi Beach House Resort & Spa in Anguilla, I was seriously intrigued.
I was also a tad intimidated. I am no lithe spring chicken, and the thought of stuffing my post-menopausal body like a sausage into a curvy, form-fitting mermaid tail and then donning a seashell bikini caused me some pause, especially for the ensuing photos. But my love for the ocean won over my insecurities, and I was so glad they did.
I was also relieved when I met Estelle Arlaud, the founder of Mermaid International School Anguilla at Zemi’s fun and friendly beach bar. I was glad to see her long flowing grey hair, as I didn’t want to be coached by some perky young thing. Though Estelle is fit as a fiddle, she carries an air of maturity and elegance I found very comforting.
Estelle is originally from France, and she has an impressive pedigree in underwater experience. She is an accomplished free diver who, for many decades, was in great demand as an underwater model for some very big name clients. Plus, she is an accomplished chef who has worked at upscale resorts, and now caters VIP private events. She is also an author. Combining both of her passions, she penned The Mermaid Chef: How to Give the Party of Your Dreams.
Estelle arrived with a bag of tails. I was surprised they were light nylon and flexible, not large silicon contraptions, and very pleased when I found out I could keep my one-piece bathing suit on underneath. I adore my Miracle Suit® bathing suit! It really does take ten inches in ten seconds off the middle as promised, and I never travel to the tropics without it. So with bolstered confidence, I chose a plain black tail to match it perfectly.
To my relief, there was no sausage stuffing required to get into my mermaid outfit.
The tail slipped on as easily as a silk glove, and the “monofin” within was made of soft, pliable plastic that fit easily over my feet.
Now I’m no “girly-girl,” but I began to really enjoy the pampering Estelle was showering me with – fixing flowers in my hair, applying my make-up. “More sparkles on your cheeks, dear?” she asked. “Sure, why not?” I giggled, without feeling foolish at all.
We took a few rushed photos under a coconut palm on gorgeous Shoal Bay Beach, but had to hop over to the pool for a lesson because we noticed a big surprise squall quickly heading our way over the sea.
The pool at Zemi Beach House is the ideal place to learn to mermaid. Besides being the epitome of infinity, you can get great photos inside it because the wall facing the sea is made of Plexiglass! It was great fun to watch the passersby do a double take when they saw a real life mermaid in the water!
Estelle taught me a few moves but it’s not as easy as she makes it look. It really is a bit of an abs workout, but once you get used to it, you can really move with that monofin! I was dying to try it in the sea but sadly the storm was upon us so we had to quit. The rain came hard, so I was reduced to drowning my sorrows in Zemi Beach’s excellent rum bar because I was leaving the next day and wouldn’t have the chance to try it again that trip. But next time I’m on Anguilla, resuming my mermaid training will be the first thing on my list!
Mermaid School International gives classes all around the island, and even men enjoy donning the tails to tap their inner Neptune, and of course, children absolutely adore it.
The school also gives courses on becoming a certified mermaid trainer; advanced mermaids can go to secret snorkeling spots with Estelle. You’ll see the certified mermaids doing demonstrations and synchronized swims at the island’s festivals and events. They are also available for parties and special occasions, and Estelle also offers mermaid retreats that can include health and fitness, and even cooking classes, too.
You need not be a great swimmer or super fit to enjoy this experience; you can also opt for just having photos in the get-up taken on the beach. But trust me. You’ll want to try that tail out in the water, and seriously, you are never too old to be mermaid!
What’s appealing to the over-50 luxury traveler?
- There are few places on the planet as perfect as Anguilla for secluded beach strolling and lounging by the sea reading a book. And this island has beaches that regularly appear in top-ten-in-the-world lists.
- The calm aqua seas are ideal for swimming as well. You won’t find any rowdy, spring-break style all-inclusives or cookie-cutter high-rise resort brands on this island; each resort is unique, upscale and refined, and designed to blend into the stunning surroundings.
- The island is very undeveloped and safe. If you’re seeking casino action, nightlife and major duty-free shopping opps, St. Maarten is right next door, and just a short ferry hop away for a side trip. (All the big commercial airlines fly into St. Maarten, not Anguilla, so you will probably be familiar with that ferry to get there anyway.)
- There are a few times in the year that Anguilla does shed its laid-back, luxury barefoot vibe, and that’s when everyone comes out for their annual music festivals, boat races and their gala Summer Festival (a week-long party and Anguilla’s answer to Carnival). It’s great fun if that’s the kind of frenzied holiday you’re seeking. But if not, they do host a smaller, more cerebral festival each spring for lovers of literature that mature travelers will surely enjoy. The annual Anguilla Litfest is a “jollification” of books and beaches with guest authors, speakers, publishers and get-togethers, all set in a paradisiacal location.
See the mermaids in action here
IF YOU GO
The author was a hosted guest of Zemi Beach Resort & Spa and received her Miracle Suit® bathing suit for review.
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