Whether it is summertime or winter if you would like to experience a Caribbean destination that looks as perfect in reality as it does in the brochures then St. Lucia is the place. With its tropical rainforests, amazing beaches, striking mountains, wonderful weather and an array of fantastic accommodation to suit families, groups of friends or couples whatever the budget this really is a tropical gem of an island that dreams are made of.
Located midway down the Eastern Caribbean chain, between Martinique and St. Vincent, and north of Barbados, the typical things that you can do on a beach holiday are available in St. Lucia. Anything from water skiing, windsurfing to swimming with the dolphins, but what captivated my interest were the things that aren’t available in other country besides St. Lucia. From seeing the Soufriere volcano, the world’s only drive-in volcanic crater to hanging from zip lines through the rain forest to climbing the Gros Piton and Petit Piton, which are the second- and third-highest peaks on the island that are simply stunning to look at.
If you’re a party animal and want to wine down low to the calypso and soca sounds then Rodney Bay is the place for you. Named after Admiral George Rodney, who sailed out of the bay to defeat the French in one of those perpetual battles, with its strip of restaurants, bars and disco’s, some of which open until daylight breaks whether you want to sip on cocktails at Lime Bar or listen to live music at Delirious this is where the young and old hang out to have some late night fun. If you’re hungry there’s a delicious jerk chicken hut at the beginning of the strip.
There are many stunning hotels on the Island but Cotton Bay with its 74 spacious townhouses that contain private swimming pools and roof top hot tubs was one of my favourites. Cotton Bay is St Lucia’s only member of the prestigious Small Luxury Hotels of the World portfolio and there I had an exclusive Moroccan treatment called a “Rasul”; where I entered a cutting-edge computerised treatment room, sat comfortably in a chair and selected various mud’s and clays to rub over my body. This was my favourite because of the homely feel of the place. Amy Winehouse’s townhouse happened to be opposite mine and she looked relaxed as she chatted with the staff and ate in the restaurant on the premises.
Another good choice is the Rex Resorts’ St Lucian and Royal, which sit side by side on Reduit Beach – a golden expanse more than a mile long. This location is perfect for people that want to sunbathe and where I was able to go jet skiing. I felt like a Bond girl out there on the sea as I pumped the gas, glided over the waves and pretended to chase after the other jet skiers like they were my arch enemies. If this is something that you would like to do my tip is negotiate with people selling the experience as there are lots of touts in competition with each other along the beach front. English is the official language on the island so communication won’t be a problem; however, many of the locals also speak a French-based patois.
For couples or honeymooners Jade Mountain is the perfect location. I didn’t get to stay here because with prices starting from at least £850 per night depending on what time of year you go, it’s a little, okay it’s a lot out of my price range, but nonetheless this is one of the Caribbean’s most magical resorts. It’s also where Amy Winehouse fell in love with St Lucia when she came with her husband Blake last December. Please don’t hold that against the resort, with its rugged stoned-face, individual bridges leading to exceptional infinity pool rooms which they call sanctuaries and a view of St Lucia’s Pitons World Heritage Site, and the Caribbean Sea this really is heaven on earth.
However, the hotel that I fell in love with was The Jalousie Plantation, which was originally a sugar cane plantation. Located on the western coast of St. Lucia Island, in the valley of The Pitons and surrounded by 192 acres of magnificent rainforest, I was lucky enough to stay in one of their newly built luxury villas. I felt like I was on MTV Cribs when I walked in there. With a four-poster bed with 300 thread-count Egyptian cotton linens, flat screen TV, iPod station, enormous walk-in shower, claw foot bath tub, over-sized plunge pool, private pool terrace, and mini-bar and your very own butler to cater to your every need, this is the kind of accommodation that dreams are made of. I actually didn’t want to leave the villa but with a 5 course meal being served in their dining area, if you knew me, you’d know that I never say no to food.
Speaking of food, you also need to make sure that you go to Dasheene Restaurant & Bar to taste the culinary delights of Chef Orlando. He is from Beckenham, south London but resides in St. Lucia and devises Creole dishes with a flamboyant twist. Although, his food was amazing I must say generally on the island there wasn’t a staple dish that stood out or a food item that I could say is the native dish of the island. This was the only disappointing thing about this wonderful island.
Two key events in the St Lucian calendar are its famous jazz festival held in May which always attracts the elite of the music world with Amy Winehouse, Beres Hammond and Estelle performing at the last festival and Carnival season arrives on the island in July. With direct flights with Virgin Atlantic and British Airways three times a week there’s never been a better time to visit St Lucian, the island that locals describe as simply beautiful, and I must agree.
Words by Annika Allen