First thing I notice when I arrive in St. Lucia is the variety of accommodations.
Well, maybe not the first thing.
First thing’s the overwhelming punch-you-in-the-stomach drama and beauty of the landscape: views of the Pitons climbing skyward to the tune of twenty-five-hundred feet; omnipresent vistas that assault you when you travel these rollercoaster riled rattlesnake roads.
Don’t believe me?
One minute we’re driving beside the beach at Anse la Raye, school kids splashing in the surf. Five minutes later and we’re seven hundred feet up, gasping over views that could convert an atheist; doing climbs that make your ears pop.
But on to the first thing – or the second. Solitude or Luxury. Solitude and Luxury.
A smorgasbord of places to lay your head.
A ROOM WITH A VIEW
One time I stayed at Keltic Lodge on Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island. Best view of any hotel room I’ve ever visited.
Yesterday morning we did coffee on the chaise longue of our villa at Stonefield Villa Resort. New best view.
In that vista from our rustic and comfortable villa (feels wonderfully like the way the Caribbean used to be), Petit Piton is a constant companion, ensconced like a nightclub bouncer across the green valley where our resort reclines amid a rainbow of flowers and flowering trees. Far below us we gaze over a bay where sailboats have moored for the night, where, on our first morning at breakfast, a rainbow is projected like a magical lightshow across the water.
At the other end of this property you can take a little rainforest hike, discovering a wealth of plants and channeling the roots (sorry) of this gorgeous place. Stonefield Villa Resort was once a cocoa and coconut plantation and still boasts, at the end of the trail in question, petroglyphs that inspired the resort logo.
Breaking news: the Mango Tree Restaurant (where the breakfast in question took place) offers up a table with a view – one of the best in the world.
And one of our favourite meals on island too, maybe thanks to the fact that many of the herbs and vegetables they serve are grown at a little hillside farm just past reception, though that’s another story.
A ROOM WITH A VIEW – THE SEQUEL
Doing dinner at Dasheene Restaurant at Ladera Resort years ago was one of those St. Lucia memories indelibly imprinted on my psyche.
Rooms there also have pretty good views (this is an over-the-top understatement). So good, in fact, that they only have three walls, the better to enjoy the vistas from their eagle’s-nest heights. You’re talking a thousand feet above sea level, smack dab in between both Pitons. Elegant carvings decorate a dining room overlook a bar embraced by purple heart and greenheart wood.
Sun falls and your room – replete with its own plunge pool – awaits.
Perfect place to reminisce about dinner. Haute cuisine feast. Haute monde hotel.
SOLITUDE AND LUXURY
No, wait. First thing I notice is this insane road climbing the slopes of precipitous hills and switch-backing like crazy.
So you get luxury – to be sure. Cocktails on the rooftop Celestial Lounge with sunset views of the Pitons in the distance are the stuff of dreams – finale of “The Bachelor” filmed here just for starters.
But this road also guarantees solitude.
My wife knows way more about architecture than I do and she declares it a true masterpiece.
I’m happy with dinner at the edge of the Jade Mountain Club dining room, or the snorkeling we did earlier off the Anse Chastanet beach.
A TANTALIZING TRIO
In the event you’ve decided to bring your mega yacht down and are looking for a place to sleep that doesn’t rock in the waves, consider Marigot Bay Resort by Capella.
No so much a place of solitude as a bastion of luxury, these rooms have a few neat selling points. Their guest services are phenomenal – “think a concierge on steroids,” says general manager, Daniel Canas, and the suites themselves boast gorgeous views of Marigot Bay, a place James Michener once described as one of the Caribbean’s most beautiful harbours, are designer-elegant. Dining options here range from casual to haute cuisine in a private tree house and the spa offers both traditional treatments and special offerings tied to St. Lucia’s indigenous influences.
If you want that stretch of beach to call your own in the north, and you want an intimate little hostelry that’s just as sophisticated and elegant as any hotel you’d find in Manhattan, check out Calabash Cove Resort and Spa. Not many rooms, so service is downright personal, and dinner at Windsong, and offering great sunset views, is one of the best meals we’ve had thus far. (Spoiler alert: great food seems to be a St. Lucia ‘given.’)
Further south – near a must-do hiking trail called Tet Paul – you find a historic resort worth a mention (and visit), if only because you can do a hands-on lesson in chocolate-making, you can buy a chocolate bar made onsite, you can dine in one of the most charming restaurants on St. Lucia for atmosphere, snugged down in a sweet valley cozy as a warm blanket.
No mistake they call this collection of secluded rooms and villas Fond Doux.
It means “Sweet Valley.”
AT THE TOP OF THE WORLD
I can look down from the terrace of our villa at Windjammer Landing (an all-inclusive property featuring beachfront and hillside rooms and villas up to three-bedroom) and I can feel like I can see forever. The Caribbean – to wit, Labrelotte Bay – stretches out below; when the weather clears I can see Martinique.
That’s what happens when you book accommodation at this massive, but very friendly, property: feel like you’re at the top of the world.
A few minutes ago I left the door from our bedroom open (this place has two bedrooms, three washrooms, its very own pool, a full kitchen with dining room and living room) and two birds flew in. As I gazed across the seas and down at the main lodge where they host a range of activities that will please any possible desire, a mourning dove stopped on the railing beside my chaise longue and cooed as if to say hello.
Below us, scattered across the green slopes, the whitewashed villas with their arched details and orange tile roofs have a Mediterranean flavour.
But the ambiance otherwise, from little touches like hammocks suspended right in the water off the beach to this afternoon’s waterski lesson followed by the massage for two, from last night’s Upper Deck menu of mango chicken and coconut shrimp, followed by coconut cheesecake, to a curry roti at Jammer’s, one of the other four onsite eateries, an island delicacy as good as any I’ve had in Trinidad, says Caribbean.
Laid-back, elegant, friendly. Damn scenic.
Hardly surprising, though, when you’ve booked a room at the top of the world.
- Every one of these properties has its own appeal and charm. You gotta do your homework and check out the amenities and features to decide what works for you. Or come for a while and stay at every one of them. In the meantime logging on to www.stonefieldresort.com, www.ladera.com , www.jademountain.com , www.ansechastanet.com , www.marigotbayresort.com , www.fonddouxresort.com, www.calabashcove.com or www.windjammer-landing.com could help.
- Should you actually manage to tear yourself away from your resort to explore St. Lucia, do some advance planning courtesy of www.stlucia.org.
- You should also do yourself a big favour while en route. Get your driver to stop for lunch in Soufriere at Orlando’s Restaurant and Bar. Guaranteed one of the best meals you’ll have on island – www.orlandosrestaurantstl.com