St Lucia Travel Report
by Lola Stoker
Cruise Holidays | Luxury Travel Boutique Travelogue
On April 23rd, I travelled to St. Lucia. The flight is approx. 5 hours in length. Upon arriving, you walk down the steps out of the plane and are welcomed by tropical sun and warm air. The airport in Vieux Fort in the South end of the island, was busy when I landed, most likely due to it being a Saturday. We had a little wait (30-45 min) to go through customs. After customs, you once again step outside to be welcomed by transportation companies who work with the various hotels and resorts. My first night I stayed at the Coconut Bay Resort & Spa so our transfer drove us there. It was a nice surprise to discover that the ride was only about 5-10 minutes, especially after a long flight!
The hotel is located on the East (Atlantic) coast on the South end of the island and is one of the few hotels situated there. The seas are a bit rougher however it is still fine for swimming on most days. There is also a stone barrier built a little way out in the sea to prevent the bigger waves to hit the shore line.
The resort is set up in a wide V formation with all rooms facing the ocean. One side of the V is dedicated to adults only. There are pools dedicated to adults only as well as a stretch of beach and some bars. The spa is also located in the adults only section.
The family portion of the resort offers water slides, a lazy river, family designated pools and even has a swim up bar just for kids. There is also a kids club catering to ages 0-12. It is a wonderful part of the resort with a petting zoo, a wading pool, and plenty of activities offered throughout the day to keep the little ones busy. There is also a nurse onsite 24 hours a day for any scrapes and bruises.
In terms of restaurants, there are plenty of options, from Italian, to Asian, to Caribbean style. The main restaurants offers a fabulous breakfast and lunch buffet and is also open for dinner. There is no adult only restaurant however the later seatings are a good option for a quiet meal. For a quiet and adult only breakfast, there is a lovely outdoor option. A couple of times a week, the resort puts on a show with an outdoor BBQ and live music. There are some great seafood options to enjoy!!
The resort also offers a large gym and plenty of other activities to keep everyone busy. They also offer wind and kit surfing lessons, which are recommended even for the serious learners.
For destinations weddings, there are 2-3 locations where weddings can take place. One is located in the adult section of the resort near the spa. The other one is located a 5 min walk down the beach – this location is a bit more ‘rugged’ and bamboo poles and palm fronds will be set up to create a walkway-boardwalk, and an arc for the wedding couple. There is also an outdoor covered area where meals can be served if the couple so wishes. The beach is very quiet and is prefect for a long romantic walk.
The following morning, after some free time, a little yoga stretch on the beach, and a quick dip in the ocean, we headed to our next resort, The Royal St. Lucia. This resort is located in the Rodney Bay area of the island, located in the North West part of the island. The drive is approx. 1.5 hours with some of it along the East and Atlantic coast with wonderful views from the top of the cliffs.
Royal St Lucian
You then cross the island from East to West along a 2 lane highway through the rain forest. I have never seen ferns this tall! They are as tall as trees and their leaves are probably at least 3-4 meters long! In addition to the ferns, there are plenty of bamboo trees, and of course palms, banana trees, many other fruit trees. Something I found out while I was there that will make me appreciate a banana a bit more: a banana tree only grows one bunch of bananas and this process takes about 9 months. After the bananas are ripe, the tree is cut down and a new tree has to be planted to bare more fruits. The other fruits that grow on the island include mangoes, papayas, passion fruit, cocoa, coconuts, all citrus fruits, love apple (red and shaped like a little heart), as well as wax apple (small and red and tastes like our apples here). We learned a lot about the native plants on a plantation tour call St. Lucian Country Life. In addition to the various fruit trees, they also showed us cinnamon trees (it’s the bark that turns into the cinnamon sticks we know!) and bay leaf trees.
Regarding animal life on the island, there are no monkeys which you do see on neighbouring islands such as St. Kitts and Barbados. Instead there are some snakes (even boa’s – although they are quite rare) and mongoos.
The road across the island takes you to Castries, the capital city. This is also the city where the cruise ships dock in St. Lucia. The hotel booked for the coming night, the Royal St. Lucia, is located in the Rodney Bay area, which is just North of Castries.
Upon arrival at Royal St. Lucia we were handed the usual rum punch as well as nice cold towel. This resort is much smaller than Coconut Bay and provides for an intimate and relaxing atmosphere. The rooms are very large and include a large sitting area with couches. The bathrooms have a large whirlpool tub as well as a rain shower with water literally coming at you from all angles! It took some of us to put on our reading glasses to figure out all the different settings. Haha. The rooms, just like at Coconut Bay, include a coffee maker, fresh water, a fridge, as well as a safe.
The resort offers a gym, a spa, and a lovely restaurant with a view of the ocean. The have a wonderful breakfast buffet with lots of fresh fruit, breads, eggs cooked a la carte, as well as some local specialties such as salt fish, cakes, and cocoa tea. One evening we enjoyed dinner in the beach restaurant with a fresh fish and seafood BBQ. It was lovely. And on our last night, surpassing everyone’s expectations, we were treated to dinner in Chic, the resort’s high end restaurant which included champagne cocktails while waiting for our order. The meals were delicious and the presentations were like art!
The resort balconies are very large and most look out over the beach and pool. The pool area has a number of covered sunbeds, and the beach offers quite a few straw umbrellas. Staff will serve you drinks as well as lunch both by the pool and on the beach. Re. the beach, none of the beaches in St. Lucia are private and this provides the opportunity to walk along and glance at some of the neighbouring resorts. The Royal is definitely the nicest. The beach is not wide however the swimming is fantastic in a large cordoned off area. The beach also provides the best sunsets as it faces the West.
The area of Rodney Bay provides plenty of shopping, night life and restaurant choices, all within walking distance of the hotel. Some are even located right across the street from the hotel. There is a lovely variety of restaurants. Some very good Indian restaurants, as well as steak, seafood, local specialties, and we enjoyed a wonderful tapas meal. Some of the local specialties include mahi mahi (aka dorado), fried plantain, rice, beans, and jerk chicken. The cuisine is very tasty. The island endured at least 7 wars between the French and the English with the result that there are a lot of French names for towns and places and the official school taught language being English. Some examples of town names are Vieux Fort and Cap Estate. The local language is Patois which is a kind of Creole French.
After 3 nights at the Royal St. Lucia, we ventured off to Calabash Cove. When you turn off the main road onto a road that looks like it’s leading nowhere, the 5 minute drive on a very rough, hilly, and potholed road through a residential area, takes you to paradise! The view through the lobby over the pool and the ocean was spectacular!
Calabash Cove is a small, intimate, and secluded resort, perfect for couples, honeymooners, and for destination weddings. There are only 26 rooms, 9 of which are beachfront cottages. The cottages consists of a bedroom (4 poster canopy beds), a sitting area with French doors overlooking the ocean, an outdoor rain shower, veranda, and a private plunge pool. They are steps away from the beach and surrounded by amazing and lush plants, trees, and flowers.
The other types of accommodation offered at Calabash Cove are Swim Up Suites and regular Hotel Suites. All are very large and overlook the ocean. They feature Jacuzzi tubs, rain showers, and one-way glass doors which allow you to look out but no one can look in, so you can leave the curtains open all day and night to enjoy the views.
The resort has a fabulous spa, as well as a spectacular restaurant overlooking (yes you guessed it!), the ocean. It is open air, like most restaurants in St. Lucia, and sea shells and fresh flowers decorate the tables. Live entertainment in the form of a guitarist who sings the most romantic songs ever written accompanies dinner. For breakfast, lots of fresh fruit is serves along with all the popular favorites, and your coffee is served in a personal French press. Very nice! The staff is very friendly and personable and makes your stay an extra special one!
During my last day in St. Lucia I also managed to tour 4 other resorts which included Le Sport The BodyHoliday, Rendez Vous, Sandals Grande St. Lucian, and The Landings. Sandals, The BodyHoliday, and The Landings are all located in the north end of the island, close to the Cap Estate area. Sandals is actually located just South of Pigeon Island which is actually not an actual island any longer but connected by a man-made causeway. The rooms at Sandals either have a view over the Caribbean Sea to the West, or a view to where the Atlantic starts, to the East.
The BodyHoliday is also located in this area and this resort offers a unique experience. It is a wellness resort and includes all sports, yoga, meditation, and may other classes throughout the week. You also receive one spa treatment each day. The restaurants offer healthy food options as well as other resort typical meals. I was very impressed with the wellness area, located on the hill, and resembling an Asian temple. It was beautiful and very serene.
Rendez Vous is located close to Castries however, the bay it is located on is very quiet and it has a beautiful beach! The resort is for couples only and offers accommodations in beach front cottages, in garden view rooms, or in ocean view suites. It is actually a former plantation and the resort is 50 years old. It is all built in a beautiful dark wood, and is very luxurious. The spa area is a lovely quiet area with it’s own pool and loungers. There is also a hidden feature which is a kind of lazy river with alcoves hidden amongst the trees and plants, where couples can relax on double loungers and can even order champagne, or dinner!
The Landings just North of Rodney Bay is a condominium resort and great for families. They also feature a yacht club and offer 2-3 pool area’s one of which is dedicated to adults. It is a very high end resort and gives the ambiance of a private golf club.
To put the various resorts in perspective, here is an idea of their ratings: Coconut Bay is a 4 star resort, and all the other would be considered 5 star. Coconut Bay. Sandals, The BodyHoliday, and Rendez Vous are all-inclusive. The Royal St. Lucia and Calabash Cove offer either a European plan (breakfast included), or a full optional meal plan. The Landings does not provide meals, however, you can order a stocked fridge, and even a chef to cook your meals. The resort does of course feature some restaurants.
The morning of my departure, I managed to practice a bit of yoga on the beach and swam a few laps before my ride to the airport. The ride was smooth and I arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare. Going through customs and security was quick and easy. If you forgot to buy your souvenirs or duty-free, there is plenty of opportunity at the airport.
After taking some shots of the spectacular landscape from the airplane window, I was on my way home. Time to start thinking about my next destination and adventure! In the meantime, you might see some stories from my business partner’s trip to Puerto Rico in late May.
le Body Holiday