Jo Cooke explores accommodation options on this Eastern Caribbean isle
Saint Lucia is not your typical Caribbean queen. White-sand beaches aren’t really her thing.
A mountainous rainforest interior, beaches of golden-sand and tranquil fishing villages are. In fact she’s rather serene, making her ideal for honeymooners longing to be loved up in scenic splendour.
Come the weekend, though, those sleepy seaside settlements such as Gros Islet, Anse La Raye and Dennery let their hair down.
Fish fry street parties with food stalls, calypso bands and make-shift bars create a carnival atmosphere and are perfect for those who love experiencing local nightlife.
By day, zip wire canopy glides, hiking, climbing, kitesurfing and mountain biking will keep the adventurous happy. Meanwhile, nature lovers can get their kicks whale watching, visiting the volcanic sulphur springs, waterfalls or botanic gardens.
This little island is brimming with ways for clients to while away their holiday time. And as if that wasn’t enough, there’s a noticeable contrast between north and south, so it feels like you’re getting two islands in one.
The hilly south is home to the twin Piton peaks. They give the island an x factor, rising statuesquely from the ocean, clad with an Afro of tropical foliage. Sandwiched between them on secluded coves, or etched into the hillsides around their peaks, you’ll find luxury secluded resorts.
The flatter north has long beaches, shopping opportunities galore and a wealth of accommodation options. There’s everything from self-catering beachfront apartment hotels to high-end all-inclusives on this end of the island, as well as a few more luxury nooks to hide away in.
Saint Lucia has it all going for her. And can be enjoyed no matter what your clients’ budget.
SAVE: BROAD BOARD SELECTION
Cost-conscious clients can go for all-inclusive, room-only or B&B in the north. Competitively priced St James’s Club Morgan Bay offers entertainment all day for both kids and adults.
Its 340 rooms are terraced on the cliffside and many enjoy ocean views. Four pools include one in a quiet, elevated setting, two connecting beachfront free-form pools and a family pool with slides. Seven nights’ all-inclusive costs from £1,073 in December with Virgin Holidays.
For those who like to run to their own timetable, self-catering at Windjammer Landing could be just the ticket. Units with fully-fitted kitchens, washing machine, tumble dryer and spacious lounge areas give a home-from-home feel. Set on a sweeping arch of sand that meets calm waters, tennis, a kids’ play area, lagoon-style pool and watersports are at guests’ disposal, plus there are five restaurants on site if they do feel like eating out. Seven nights room-only with Kuoni costs from £1,118 in December (quote: CL0080).
A hidden gem in the budget category is Bay Gardens Beach Resort. Family run, it has a Caribbean vibe that’s echoed in its decor and design, including a front porch veranda with rocking chairs. Smart, functional rooms are set around a pool or on the beachfront.
The location is great; it’s a short walk from Rodney Bay’s bustle of restaurants, bars and shops, and on a quiet stretch of the divine, thick-sand Reduit Beach. Seven nights with breakfast, costs from £1,329 with Caribtours in December.
SPEND: ROMANTIC ROOMS
In the mid-price range, Caribbean aficionados Sandals have a trio of all-inclusive properties in the north of the island each occupying a prime slice of sand. The 169-room Halycon Beach has a village feel with cottage-style accommodation set in tropical gardens. It attracts a slightly older crowd looking for some rest and relaxation with a range of facilities, restaurants and activities.
To the north, on Pigeon Island National Park, Sandals Grande St Lucian has 301 rooms. A palatial lobby and entrance leads to gardens and a beach and the hotel has an upbeat vibe and party atmosphere. The 331-room Sandals Regency La Toc Golf Resort & Spa is arguably the most romantic option of the three. Located on a hillside above the ocean, accommodation extends onto a peninsula where you can watch the sun rise and set. It’s also close to the capital Castries and its duty-free shopping. Virgin Holidays offers seven nights all-inclusive from £1,709 in December.
A more low-key all-inclusive for couples is the recently refurbished Rendezvous. A large beachfront restaurant and lagoon-style pool nudge up to a broad section of sand. Behind them landscaped gardens shroud an elegant second pool complete with cabanas, while room blocks are a mix of rustic, colonial and tropical in design. Kuoni offers seven nights’ all-inclusive from £1,775 in December. (Quote: CL0040)
Over in the south, Anse Chastanet offers the best of both worlds. Rooms, suites, and the property’s restaurants are either perched on the mountainside with views of the Pitons or on the beach. Two idyllic coves with some of the best snorkelling on the island are reached by steps. Rooms are cosy with ethnic fabrics and louvre windows, some have outdoor showers and others wrap-around balconies. Seven nights with breakfast cost from £1,835 in December with Caribtours.
SPLURGE: FRILLS AND THRILLS
“In the last three years Saint Lucia has become a true luxury travel destination,” says Helen Tabois, ITC Classics senior product and marketing manager.
“Key properties such as the BodyHoliday LeSport and Sugar Beach (see Tried and Tested opposite) have been upgraded, and British Airways offers a First Class cabin to the island.”
If clients have cash to splash and a taste for design, point them towards Jade Mountain. Built into a hillside, the 29 rooms of this eco-chic hotel offer complete privacy and indoor-outdoor living. With no fourth wall, the open-plan rooms enjoy panoramic views of the Pitons and ocean. All have private sun terraces and many rooms have sizeable infinity pools, which give the impression you can swim to the Pitons or touch the stars at night. Seven nights with breakfast costs from £3,279 with Caribtours.
Nearby, the 32-suite Ladera sits on a ridge and has eye-level views of the Pitons. The expansive rooms are of eclectic design, fashioned from stone and varnished wood and with brightly tiled bathrooms. Seven nights with breakfast costs from £2,049 with Caribtours.
Back in the north, the BodyHoliday LeSport will appeal to those who want a sun, sea and sand escape that rejuvenates and indulges. A 50-minute daily spa treatment is included in the price and restaurant menus offer healthy options. The resort’s beach is a glorious bay edged by rolling hillsides and in between sunbathing guests can join exercise classes including spinning and yoga, plus there are golf clinics. Seven nights’ all-inclusive leads in at £3,085 with ITC Classics.
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