Luxury Travel Advisor is just back from Saint Lucia, an island that offers much more than just beautiful Caribbean beaches.
One of our favorites was the adults-only Ladera Resort, on the southwest portion of the island. The standout? Its location — set directly between the Pitons, two mountainous volcanic plugs bookending Jalousie Bay and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ladera Resort is set 1,000 feet above sea level, with views of both Pitons (depending on where you’re standing), as well as the beach below.
The resort, set on the grounds on one of Soufrière’s oldest cocoa plantations, has just 37 rooms and suites; all have a view of at least one Piton. They’re all also open-concept, meaning each has just three walls; the open area allowing for near-panoramic views of the Pitons and ocean.
Ladera Resort has 37 eco-friendly rooms and suites, each decorated with local art and offering a private plunge pool.
Bonus: Each room has its own private heated plunge pool to take in the views from. We were fond of the Hilltop Dream Suites, which have a swinging bench just over the pool for added relaxation. These 1,200-square-foot, split-level rooms have a four-poster king bed, a couch facing the Pitons and a small dining table. For a larger room, opt for the Heritage Suites; they are 2,400-square-foot, two-level rooms with the same amenities; although their pools have a decorative mini-waterfall instead of the swing. The first floor has the private pool, dining table and seating area. On the second floor are several bedrooms, which is well-suited for multiple couples (in the room we viewed, there were three bedrooms: two had king beds and one with a twin, which isn’t often in use, we’re told). From the master bedroom, there is also an open shower from which to take in the views.
Local art can be found in the rooms and throughout the resort; this includes hand-carved works in all of the wood (from the headboards and support beams to poolside decorations). The resort’s artist in residence is Boniface Modeste, who did all of the work. All of the bedroom sets, tables and chairs are completely custom.
The top accommodations are The Suites at Paradise Ridge that provide butler service, priority seating at the resort’s restaurant, Dasheene, an extra-large bathroom and more. Note: Due to the location on the mountainside, all guestrooms are unique in its layout (although all rooms in the same category are of similar size and offer the same amenities). It’s also very important to note that guestrooms do not offer TVs. There are power strips for electronics, but tech is not the focus of this resort.
To help book the perfect room, contact Shay Renee ([email protected]), reservations manager.
Ladera Resort (here and left), set on the grounds of one of Soufrière’s oldest cocoa plantations.
Dasheene is one of the top restaurants on St. Lucia. Executive Chef Nigel Mitchel and his staff use fresh, local ingredients; the chef prepares “stylish interpretations” of traditional St. Lucian dishes, such as sweet potato and coconut soup, Caribbean lamb salad, roast conch with pickled vegetables, Cajun Creole vegetable bakes, jerk poulet sausage, plantain gratin with coconut rum sauce and more. The restaurant is split into three levels: The Bar, a lunch section (which allows children, for non-hotel guests) and a dinner section. There is also a wine cellar, where guests can book a chef for a private dinner. Guests can build a menu in advance with Chef Nigel and can enjoy dinner for two to 10 people.
The Spa at Ladera has three treatment rooms and an outdoor series of cascading hot tubs in the spa gardens (think pre- or post-massage). Note: Guests can opt for in-room treatments, as well.
A new spa is expected to be up and running next year; it’s already in the works. The same goes for a new ocean-facing gym; currently, a small setup is located adjacent to the spa.
A nature trail, spanning the resort is also on tap, running along the edge of the mountainside. (We hear speakers are being installed so there will be music as you walk. Sweet!)
Ladera has a Medical Garden, with herbs and plants used in medicines (and in the kitchen at Dasheene). Hint: Ask for a tour around the property with the head gardener or bird watcher to get the full scoop.
Good to know: The resort is located up on a ridge and so it does not have its own beach. Ladera does run shuttles to Sugar Beach three times a day, located just below the resort. The ride takes 10 minutes. (If your plans don’t line up with the shuttle services, Ladera can organize transportation.)
Christian Gandara ([email protected]) is the general manager and he can help organize snorkeling and diving excursions, as well as any other activities you may be looking to book. Gandara has even booked a violinist to play in the middle of the rainforest, we’re told. Why? A group of 10 went on a hike and, at the end, the man who organized the group proposed to his girlfriend. The group hiked to a view point picked out by the man and were met by the violinist playing, as well as additional lighting for the perfect photos, cocktails, canapés and more. Impressive.
Orlando’s restaurant & Bar, owned by Chef Orlando Satchell, offers fun twists on local food.
We get it if you want to dine at Dasheene every night, but for guests who want to change it up, head into Soufrière, the town located on the bay (it’s only a 10-minute drive from the resort) and check out Orlando’s Restaurant & Bar. Chef Orlando Satchell is actually the previous chef at Dasheene and decided to open his own restaurant in town. He offers two set menus daily, offering fun twists on local food. One of our fellow travelers and a longtime friend of Chef Satchell called him “the Godfather of Caribbean Fine Dining.” The meal we had certainly lived up to the hype. We enjoyed local dishes from roasted cherry tomatoes with curried vegetables to callaloo and pumpkin soup, mango and coconut salad, a Caribbean-inspired fish ‘n’ chips (Chef was born in the U.K. to Caribbean parents) and an apple pie cake, made with apples grown in the backyard.
Chef Satchell was able to join us for dinner (he tells us he always tries to get out of the kitchen and meet his guests) and his company was just as great as the food. His motto is “share the love.” After leaving, you’ll definitely be feeling the love and you’ll be excited to do your part in sharing it.
For another activity off-property, be sure to check out the Tet Paul Nature Trail. Located further up the mountainside, Tet Paul is a private nature trail offering guided hikes. Two separate decks will offer guests the perfect vantage point of each Piton. Guides are extremely knowledgeable and can answer any questions about the island, as well as the plants on property (of which there are plenty). Note: Tet Paul’s owners have several dogs, which will often follow guests for the hike. We enjoyed the additional company.
Heading north on the island, for a very different take on Saint Lucia, we suggest visiting Cap Maison Resort & Spa. The 50-villa resort almost better resembles a Mediterranean cliffside hotel than it does a Caribbean resort.
Cap Maison Resort and Spa has 50 villas. Shown here is a Villa Suite living room.
Each building comprises multiple accommodations (which make up the 50 “villas” and can be booked individually or as a whole). The individual accommodation offerings include Garden View Rooms, Junior Suites, and One-, Two- and Three-Bedroom Villa Suites. All rooms have king bed with down pillows and Egyptian cotton sheets, en-suite bathrooms, a Bose docking station and Amazon Echo, air conditioning and a verandah with outdoor seating.
Of the lower-category rooms, we prefer the Junior Suites; these rooms have partial ocean views and overlook the tropical gardens from a private verandah. We were told that Cap Maison gets more couples than families, although there are still plenty of the latter. For the former, the Junior Suites may be a good fit. One of the One-Bedroom Villa Suites may be a good option, as well. We particularly liked the Oceanview Villa Suite with Pool & Roof Terrace. This room has a master bedroom, a living / dining room, a kitchen and large private verandahs, as well as rooftop space — which offers a private swimming pool, loungers and more. For a private meal, guests can have the resort prepare a barbecue dinner on their rooftop; we didn’t get to enjoy this but smelled one from across the rooftops, and it seemed very promising. The Two- and Three-Bedroom Villa Suites offer similar amenities; second-floor accommodations have roof access, while first-floor accommodations have garden access, which has its own private pool.
Cap Maison Resort and Spa's Ocean View Villa Suite With Pool, surrounded by lush tropical landscaping.
The largest single accommodation is the owner’s residence, Saman House. A tropical house built in 1990, Saman House sits in one acre of landscaped gardens on a cliff-top facing the Caribbean. It has four double bedrooms with ceiling fans and en-suite bathrooms; rooms open onto the verandah which extends the length of the house.
We met a family from the U.K. that was traveling to the Caribbean for the first time. They told us they picked Cap Maison because they wanted a quieter resort that offered the right value and was good for families. To help book the right accommodation, reach out to Joella Cumberbatch Joseph ([email protected]), reservations manager.
There are two restaurants on property led by Head Chef Craig Jones: The Cliff at Cap and The Naked Fisherman. The former offers fine dining and a contemporary French Caribbean menu, while the latter serves more casual eats on the beach. Our meal at The Cliff was fantastic and the sea salt caramel ice cream we sampled was among the best desserts we’ve ever tried. Located just below The Cliff is Rock Maison — as made famous from the 14th and 21st seasons of “The Bachelor.” It’s a private wooden deck built on a shoal, along the water’s edge. Couples can enjoy private dinner service with lanterns, tiki torches, as well as — a hotel guest favorite — champagne that’s zip lined from The Cliff down to the Rock. Thinking of proposing? Have the hotel send down a basket filled with roses and the ring. Cap Maison also has a private wine cellar, where guests can enjoy private dinners and events with the resort’s sommelier. There are also two wine tastings offered: A casual, tutored tasting and a fine wine tasting.
The Cliff at Cap is a fine dining restaurant with a contemporary French Caribbean menu.
Cooking classes and more can also be booked for foodies. Fun Fact: Chef Jones was voted Caribbean Chef of the year for 2016 by the Caribbean Journal.
In addition to dining experiences, General Manager Ross Stevenson ([email protected]) can also book half- or full-day sunset cruises, private catamaran cruises, Piton sightseeing tours, mineral waterfall hikes, rainforest hikes or cycling and more.
Spa treatments, which range from rituals and journeys to body massages, facials and exfoliations, are available in the two treatment rooms, on the villa terraces, the pool, gazebo or on the beach. Group and private yoga, Pilates and fitness classes are also available. Tip: Cap Maison has its own Running and Hiking Club, offering guided clifftop and beach hikes and trail runs. These hikes and walks can be in Saint Lucia’s countryside, in the rainforest and along the Pitons.
For guests who would like to explore other areas, we suggest Pigeon Island. Located just a few minutes’ drive away, Pigeon Island National Park has two peaks to hike and plenty of history. The island served as a British military site, where they set up Fort Rodney (located atop the shorter of the two peaks, which can be accessed by a casual walk up a hill and some stairs). Artifacts from indigenous Caribbean groups date back to 1000 A.D. Note: In 1972, Pigeon Island was connected to the mainland by a manmade causeway, making access much simpler. Tip: When we visited, Carnival was just ending, where festivities were held on the island; it also plays host to the Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival (which actually heavily features jazz music, unlike many other “jazz” festivals across the globe).
Cap Maison’s Clifftop Pool offers a perfect place to watch the sunset.
For additional activities in Saint Lucia, Barefoot Holidays St. Lucia, a full- service DMC, offers a variety of experiences. Two experiences we would suggest are the Chocolate Bean to Bar Experience and the Volcano & Mud Baths Excursion. The former is available at Boucan by Hotel Chocolat (located right across from Ladera); guests will visit the estate, where they will learn to graft the cocoa plant, grind and taste cacao beans and make your own chocolate bar. With the mud baths excursion, guests will tour Sulphur Springs, “the world’s only drive-in volcano,” where they can soak in the mud baths. (A colleague of ours opted for this; she says that Barefoot Holidays was excellent. They provided a “beautiful car and great service to the mud baths, which were awesome … they are definitely for the luxury traveler.”)