I’ve been visiting St. Lucia for more than a decade now, and on each trip I find more reasons to return. Everyone I’ve met there has been warm and sincere; the landscape, particularly in the south, is stunning; and I’ve certainly done my fair share of shopping on the island (more about that in a future post.) But what I find most enchanting are the Pitons, the towering twin volcanoes that pierce the southwest coast (they’re also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, don’tcha know). Not to get all New Age-y on you, but there’s a palpable sense of contentment I feel whenever I’m within sight of them, almost as if they’re protecting me with their mere presence. (True, I didn’t necessarily feel it when I was huffing and puffing 3,519 feet up to the top of Gros Piton … but that’s a story for another time.) So now when I go I always stay at hotel that lies within the shadow of the silent sentinels. Here are three I love:
I’ve has a crush on this hotel ever since I first came here back in the ‘90s. The originator of the three-walled room concept (the fourth “wall” is the jaw-dropping view out to sea), the hillside boutique has just 32 suites, each with their own private plunge pools for cloistered canoodling - and who doesn't love that?
There’s a main pool, too (where scenes from Superman II were shot), and the popular Dasheene restaurant and a spa, but I’m most looking forward to seeing the new hilltop dream suites, which preside from 1,100 feet above the water and open on February 1.
The lovely T’cholit patio bar, where sunburned guests sip yummy Banana Blessings as the descending sun sets the sea and mountain vista aglow, is the spot for cocktails and conversation with a chic international crowd. I rate Ladera “R” for Romance.
It seems as if this resort has had a gazillion names over the last few years. Formerly known as The Jalousie Plantation and briefly as The Tides, it’s now a Viceroy hotel, but by any other name would be as sweet. Sprawled over 100 lush acres of the Pitons Valley and its beachfront, Sugar Beach's bungalows, villas and suites feature décor that stylishly melds old-school and contemporary Caribbean motifs (think canopied four-posters, oodles of white, and gingerbread fretwork agogo).
And the bathrooms! The suite I stayed in the last time had not one but three places to lather up: in an indoor and outdoor (yes!) shower, as well as a divine chandelier-crowned soaking tub.
I even had my own butler, Gracious, whose name couldn’t have been more appropriate. Also impressive: the glam Cane Bar, where the “rummelier” helps you select from a wall of premium rums, and the resort’s art amazingly diverse collection.
Next time I’m there I’ll be checking out the Rainforest Spa, housed in seven hillside-hugging tree houses. The Royal Bamboo Massage is calling my name.
True confession: I’ve not yet had the pleasure of visiting Hotel Chocolat but I like it already. I mean, really, what’s not to love? The fact that this resort, owned by the UK-based chocolate company of the same name, is built on a centuries-old and still- working cacao estate and guests can make their own chocolate bars? That the spa features indulgent cocoa-based treatments? Or that there’s a “cocoa fusion” restaurant with salt, pepper and chocolate nibs on every table? I can’t wait to settle into one of those 14 suites and “cocoa-juvenate” myself into a blissful stupor as the Pitons observe me approvingly from above.