You can catch up with the latest from St Lucia now with Gretchen's account of her recent trip...
We arrived at St Lucia and with customs cleared and bags collected it was onto the bus for the hour and a half journey up to the north of the island. The scenery along the way was beautiful and as we drove through villages along winding roads, it was interesting to see how the local people live and a good introduction to the island.
One of my first visits was to Cap Maison, a villa style property just up the road from Smugglers Cove. The resort is beautifully designed with contemporary, comfortable furnishings. There's an extensive wine cellar with an array of wines from around the world. (The cellar is also used for small private functions).
Next on the agenda was a visit to The Landings which is set on a beautiful stretch of white sand beach with elegant decor and furnishings. The entrance/reception area is an atrium giving an amazing sense of space. The resort has a large spa with an excellent range of treatment options and a beauty salon.
We moved on to The BodyHoliday for lunch with excellent facilities from diving to spa treatments. I had a 20 minute foot massage which was a welcome treat (I'll try and arrange another for the end of the trip next time!) We enjoyed a buffet style lunch at the Clubhouse with fresh fish and chicken, 'create your own' salads and vegetarian options. There was something to suit all tastes.
Next I was off to Rendezvous for dinner. The hotel was stylish with comfortable rooms, a large dining room overlooking the beach with adjacent bar and lounge area. The grounds are very tropical and although the resort was quite full it didn't seem as though there were many guests. We enjoyed cocktails on the deck before going on to dinner. Dinner was fabulous with good wine and excellent service, there were a couple of options to chose from but everything was fresh and tasted delicious. After dinner we went onto the hotel bar where guests enjoyed (and joined in with) the evening entertainment. It was a really enjoyable evening.
Another day, I went to Castries and the Duty Free shopping area (a popular stop for the cruise ships) - there's even a rum tasting there. For those looking to learn a little about St Lucia during their visit, don't miss the Desmond Skeete Interpretation Centre and the animated history of the island. The markets in Castries are good for browsing and the place to purchase those sought after souvenirs.
Back on the coach and a winding road took us to Calabash Cove with its open air reception looking right across the Caribbean Sea. The setting is just spectacular with the restaurant enjoying the same wonderful views. The gardens are beautiful (all plants were grown from seed by Konrad, the manager who has a great interest in the flora on the property.) The hotel itself is just beautiful with high ceilings and open bathrooms, you can sit in the bath and look out to sea. After a tour around Calabash Cove we were offered Champagne and canapes in the reception - the canapes were divine and if the meals served are anything like them - I am sure the food is equally fabulous!
The following day we took a catamaran from Rodney Bay marina and down the west coast of the island, stopping off at a number of resorts en-route. First port of call was Marigot Bay where the 1967 Dr Dolittle was filmed. The accommodation at Capella Marigot Bay is set on the hillside in wooden buildings and, once inside, certainly has the air of a luxury hotel with contemporary furnishings and Caribbean flair. The hotel is located on a natural marina so there are a number of shops and restaurants nearby. (There is a beach accessible by ferry across the marina).
Next stop further down the coast was Ti Kaye. Set in an elevated position on the hillside with steps down to the beach, all rooms have wonderful sea views, many with hammocks on the patio or deck and outdoor showers.
A short sail away we saw Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort, totally in awe of the wonderful natural setting of the resort, right between the Pitons. We pulled up at the jetty and were greeted with cold towels and refreshing drinks. After lunch we headed off in a shuttle bus to see the villas as the resort is spread out over quite a large area. The luxury villas are absolutely stunning with beautiful bedrooms and large walk-through closets leading into a bathroom with free standing bath and double shower. Each villa has its own private plunge pool with views across the sea or to the Pitons. We walked through to the Rainforest Spa, set up on stilts into the surrounding rainforest. The Great House and Cane bar are both swish and swanky - you feel as though you are in a top London hotel. The beach is a beautiful sandy white with clear warm waters to swim in. The location ideal for snorkeling or diving as there is a marine reserve just off the beach.
The next day was a day of adventure as we headed off to zip wire through the rainforest canopy. We arrived, were harnessed and helmeted up (together with hair nets!) then a quick go on one of the practice wires. Practice complete we jumped on a cable car which took us through the canopy to the start of the zip wire tour. The adrenaline rush was amazing and a must for anyone looking for adventure on holiday. We then returned to the cable car and back to base, the views were fantastic above the rainforest and right out to sea.
We had lunch at Windjammer Landing followed by a site inspection. Again, another villa property ideal for families there's so much for children to do. The accommodation is in one, two and three bedroom villas, mostly with their own plunge pool. After using one of the villas as base we had a quick dip and change before heading off to Anse la Raye for the fish fry - a street market where you can buy freshly caught fish of all kinds - mahi mahi to crab and whelks - have a few drinks and listen to music, it was then on to the Jump Up at Gros Islet which is just a huge street party with food, music and more drinks!
Our last full day in St Lucia and it was back to Rodney Bay marina for a speedboat transfer down to the south of the island and onto the bus for a site inspection of Ladera. The hotel offers spectacular views accross to the Pitons and with only three walls in the rooms you almost feel as though you are outside. The hotel has a very Caribbean style with beautiful carvings around the property. Ladera is not situated on a beach but offers a shuttle service down to the beach at Sugar Beach so you are able to use the facilities on that beach.
We then sailed around to Anse Chastanet for a quick bite to eat and site inspection. The food was divine and with five restaurants there are plenty of options to chose from. The resort is situated on 600 acres of tropical grounds with fruit and vegetables grown on the land surrounding the property. The hotel has a very Caribbean style to it with plenty of good facilities for families and couples.
Situated just above Anse Chastanet is Jade Mountain. This is an exclusive 5* resort with absolutely stunning rooms. Each suite has its own infinity pool, open bathroom and huge four poster bed. The views are across to the Pitons so again you feel like you are outside. There is one restaurant at Jade Mountain but as a guest, you are invited to use all facilities at Anse Chastanet.
A couple of hours at leisure on our final day followed by lunch and we were off to the airport for our departure.
I think my lasting impression of St Lucia has to be the great beauty of the majestic Pitons as they rose up out of the mist after a heavy downpour.