You can’t visit Saint Lucia without sailing on a day-boat past the lush and mountainous west coast, spending a day at the Pigeon Island National Park beach and historic ruins, taking selfies with the Pitons on the (easy) Tet Paul nature trail, and eating at Orlando’s, a restaurant run by Orlando Satchell, the godfather of Caribbean fine dining. So I did all four during my most recent visit. But wait: There’s more.
Saint Lucia, just south of Martinique, has long been loved for its dramatic topography, luxury resorts, and romantic vibe, but now the 27-mile-long island is further expanding its appeal with new infrastructure, accommodations, and attractions, especially in the south. For more about that, visit recmd.it/SaintLuciaPart1 and recmd.it/SaintLuciaPart2. Meanwhile, on this trip I spent time at four of the island’s quite diverse hotels, so let me show you around.
Bay Gardens Resorts
This group of family-friendly properties is a rarity in the Caribbean for several reasons. For starters, it’s owned by an Afro-Caribbean family; Sanovnik Destang, the founders’ son and the executive director, is also past president of SLHTA. Second many of the guests are from the Caribbean as well as from North America. Third, its Splash Island Water Park is a one-of-a-kind playground that lies in the sea, not on land.
Bay Gardens Hotel, in Rodney Bay, features gardens (of course!), a friendly staff, three pools, wedding services, and low-rise buildings with rooms enlivened by pastels. One night I ordered a pepperpot at Spices, which serves authentic Lucian as well as international fare. Perfect.
Bay Gardens Hotel, as well as the Bay Gardens Inn and Bay Gardens Marina Haven, offer free shuttles to Bay Gardens Beach Resort & Spa, the four-star of the group. Occupying one of Saint Lucia’s finest beaches, it’s home to the Splash Island Water Park, addictive to children of all ages. For next July, when kids are out of school, a family of four (children ages 7 and 10) can get a room for $1,540 per week, including taxes and gratuities, but I’d recommend at least a 1-bedroom Suite Beach Front for $3,465 per week. With the all-inclusive option, that’s $6,980 per week. FYI, the latter includes some meals at a choice of eight local restaurants. Who else offers that?
Cap Maison Resort & Spa
This is one of the classiest resorts in Saint Lucia, and that’s saying something. Cap Maison sits on a bluff above a small beach and looks like a Mediterranean village. With approximately 50 rooms/suites and villas, this is the sort of place where there’s an honor bar and sundries shop. Accommodations feature polished wood furniture, bathrooms with hand-painted tiles, and dark wooden louvers (with screens) for that classic look. Villas have private pools, of course, and there’s also a 1-bedroom Ocean View Villa Suite with Pool.
Craig Jones, the 2016 Caribbean Chef of the Year, oversees two award-winning restaurants: The Cliff and, down on the beach, The Naked Fisherman. At The Cliff one day I savored a subtly seasoned seafood chowder, dense with locally caught fish; fresh snapper with greens and Creole sauce upon a bed of plantains; and a salted caramel brownie with homemade ice cream. Halfway down the cliff, waiters were setting up a small wedding party dinner under a canopy on a promontory; chef Craig also serves groups in the wine cellar. Rates per couple this January start at $3,677 per week, including taxes. Add the all-inclusive option, and it’s $6,876 per week at a real foodie destination—and that rate includes in-room meals, too.
The original mountaintop hideaway with three-walled suites, Ladera is as romantic as it gets (trust me on that). It lies between the Pitons, so the peaks, the sea, and the stars are what you see from bed. The suites feature hand-made tropical wood furniture, local paintings/tiles/sculptures, open-air showers, and plunge pools in the sky.
Ladera will soon debut a new gym, and chef Nigel Mitchell’s refined Lucian fare lights up Dasheene restaurant. The views from Dasheene and from the main pool, like those from the suites, are breathtaking, and guests can visit a beach via a shuttle. Suites for one couple in January start at $576 per night including taxes, or $4,030 per week. Optional meal plans range from half board to all-inclusive ($216 pp daily, including taxes and gratuities). See also the popular Peak-to-Beach combo, featuring three nights each at Ladera and Cap Maison from about $8,200 for our couple in high season, all-inclusive.
The update on Saint Lucia would be incomplete without mentioning Royalton Saint Lucia. For information on that property, click here.
Bay Gardens Resorts: baygardensresorts.com
Cap Maison: capmaison.com
Saint Lucia Tourism Authority: stlucia.org