St. Lucia had a co-starring role in ABC's "The Bachelor: On the Wings of Love." Now, we hear, dozens of the Caribbean island's resorts are joining in a "Red Rose Romance" promotion, which offers discounts through the end of the year for trips booked by March 31. Participants include Cap Maison, site of a rose ceremony on the hit show, which we detail below in this primer on St. Lucia. Read all about it!
The addition of 800 new four- and five-star hotel rooms and two new championship golf courses by the end of 2010 will launch St. Lucia to a new level of luxury that will be hard to match anywhere in the Caribbean.
The new Westin Le Paradis Beach & Golf Resort with a Greg Norman course, The Residences at Ritz-Carlton with an Arnold Palmer course, and the upgrade of the Jalousie Plantation into an upscale Tides are the result of a master plan drawn up by Allen Chastanet, the island's minister of tourism and civil aviation. The additional bed base is being served by increased airlift year-round, primarily by JetBlue, which began thrice-a-week service from New York’s JFK in October 2009. "The addition of 35,000 airline seats a year is a vote of confidence to the people and the economy of St. Lucia," Chastanet told Luxury Travel Advisor.
While the opening of the new resorts is much awaited, St. Lucia already has a wealth of recently opened high-end properties to suit clients’ varied tastes.
Cap Maison sits on a rocky bluff, 50 feet above the crashing Atlantic waves so there is always a breeze to complement the view, which includes the diamond-shaped Pigeon Island. Twenty-two villas house spacious units ranging from one to four bedrooms, including duplexes and triplexes. Larger units have rooftop plunge pools or Jacuzzis on the terrace. With just 48 keys, privacy and service are the norm. Architecture mixes the Spanish Colonial and Mediterranean. Natural hardwoods abound, as in the louvered doors and windows that let in the breeze or keep out the sun.
The most dramatic views are reserved for the restaurant, The Cliff at Cap, where every table is set along the terrace edge. This fine-dining experience draws on a selection of 25 rums from nine islands put together by a rum sommelier. Cap Maison also has a wine list of 175 labels, and a wine cellar for private wine pairing dinners of up to 10 people. Executive Chef Craig Jones, a Rastafarian originally from Wales, focuses on fresh, organic local produce, and guests can accompany him to the local markets. Guests who go fishing can bring back the day’s catch and Jones will prepare it for dinner. There's also a small full-service spa.
The preferred spot for sunsets is the deck atop Rock Maison at the water's edge. Aperitifs and appetizers are delivered via a zipline. General Manager Ross Stevenson ([email protected]; 011-758-457-8675) recently arranged for a table for two, and sent down a bottle of champagne and a dozen roses with an engagement ring tucked into the bouquet. "She said 'yes,' of course," said Stevenson, who will also arrange a private plane or yacht for a day-trip to the Grenadines, 17 miles away.
Cotton Bay Village
Cotton Bay Village is a former Sunswept Resort, renovated into a luxury property that feels like a gated private home community on the beach. The 74 villas consist of 206 rooms—mostly three- and four-bedroom units, each with full, modern kitchens, decorated with boldly colored local artwork and accessories. Each unit is assigned its own butler, who will shop for groceries and serve meals, but not cook. Contact Senior Butler Ed Evans ([email protected]; 011-758-724-5751) to arrange for a private chef. Each unit also receives a special cell phone connecting directly with its butler.
The Coral Penthouse Suite has a spiral staircase to a rooftop Jacuzzi. Another outstanding choice, the three-bedroom Chateau Mango, sits on on the beach.
Your most demanding clients will appreciate Cotton House, a spacious and modern four-bedroom home with its own private pool, gazebo, and a pool-house with a fifth bedroom for an assistant or bodyguard. This villa rents for $2,500 a night in high season, $1,200 in low, and is where headliners at the annual St. Lucia Jazz Festival stay, including John Legend and Patti La Belle. British rocker Amy Winehouse also stayed here.
The resort is built along a mile and a half of curved sandy beach, with verdant hills on either end, and a mango grove for kayaking and fishing. The full-service spa comprises a men’s-only treatment room and a couples’ room with a private grotto and plunge pool.
Although the centerpiece of The Landings’ four-story cupola lobby is a replica of an 1805 sailing ship, the H.M.S. Victory, and it has its own marina for guests' yachts, there is no nautical theme to the resort. This is RockResorts’ second property in the Caribbean, a sprawling collection of 120 units with another 60 due to be completed in June 2010.
Accommodations range in size from 911-square-foot one-bedroom units to 1,800-square-foot three-bedrooms, each with a full kitchen. Your most discerning clients will opt for the 2,300-square-foot Grand, with a 100-foot-long terrace that is wide enough for a formal dinner table. Each three-floor villa unit has a Grand on the top floor, with a choice of beach or harbor view.
Spa Director Kimia Ghafari ([email protected]; 011-758-458-7330) says the body wrap at its full-service spa using local lime from nearby Soufriere is the most popular treatment. She recommends the VIP treatment room, with a private terrace for outdoor massages or manicures, and a private free-form outdoor shower.
Jade Mountain is best known for its art-filled three-wall rooms which have one open-air side, private infinity pools cantilevered over the steep mountainside, and close-up views of St. Lucia's iconic Piton peaks. The steep climb to the rooms and ultra-modern architecture may not suit all tastes, but the view and a staff of 250 for 49 rooms creates an extraordinary level of service, and the romantic setting makes it a top choice for honeymooners. The resort has a helipad, which reduces the 90-minute drive from the airport over winding mountain roads to a six-minute flight ($220 per passenger). Contact Karolin Troubetzkoy ([email protected]; 011-758-459-7000,), executive director and co-owner (with her husband) for special requests.
Jade Mountain sits above the beach-level Anse Chastanet resort, which the Troubetzkoys also own and operate. St. Lucia's protected marine park is just offshore, so scuba diving and snorkeling here is exceptional. The adjoining former sugar plantation has a network of shaded trails for hiking and mountain biking. Highly recommended activities for visitors include the Rainforest Canopy cable car experience at the Castries Waterworth Reserve, and a trip to the only walk-in volcano in the Caribbean, at Soufriere.