St. Lucia: Romance is a Caribbean cocktail of flowers, sea breeze and balmy nights
Landscape and resorts perfectly suited to couples conspire to inspire closeness
SOUFRIÈRE, ST. LUCIA—There may be a better hotel somewhere on earth, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find one more romantic.
My wife and I have just finished a remarkable, open-air dinner on the mountainside terrace at Jade Mountain resort with spicy red-snapper cakes, roasted barracuda and duck, along with a silky white wine from Burgundy. It’s about 26 degrees and we’ve watched shooting stars streak through the dark Caribbean sky as we nibbled on desserts of flourless chocolate cake and passion fruit sorbet. After dinner, we repair to our room, which is entirely open to the elements on one side, and has a fabulous view of the remarkable rock formations known as the Pitons, the symbol of St. Lucia.
We take a brief swim in our private infinity pool overlooking the hills and soak in a huge hot tub doused with relaxation salts. A dozen flickering candles surround the tub, there’s a bottle of chilled Champagne within arm’s reach. The warm Caribbean breezes waft through our suite.
Jade Mountain is an architecturally wondrous resort built by Vancouver-based Nick Troubetzkoy. It’s one of those once in a lifetime places you simply can’t — and won’t — forget.
One night, we dine down the hill at the partner hotel, Anse Chastanet. We take our dinner in what’s called The Treehouse, where you’re exposed to thick jungle growth and dine amidst a choir of tree frogs. After a lovely meal of fresh seafood and lamb, we walk to the next-door bar, where a band is playing country and western, reggae and pop with equal aplomb. I order the Seventh Heaven drink, which comes with a local aphrodisiac called bois bande, a powder from ground tree bark, while my wife gets a Caribbean Kiss which consists of rum and fruit juice and more rum.
The lead singer, who sounds more Nashville than St. Lucia, starts belting out the Righteous Brothers “Unchained Melody.” As he hits the bit about “I neeeeeddd your love,” I look over and see a sea of couples dancing along with us.
And so it continues. At Cap Maison resort, we dine on Thai-style crab and blackened steak in the shadow of flickering tiki torches at the beachside restaurant, called The Naked Fisherman. It’s a glorious spot to dine, with the surf crashing on the sand just a few metres from our table.
We have breakfast the next day at the Cliff at Cap restaurant, where tables are set on a cliff above the softly echoing surf. There’s a small wooden platform far below us, resting on dark lava rock. They sometimes serve food on this deck, and there’s a rope and pulley system outside the restaurant they use to lower food to folks below. We learn, over breakfast one day, that one particularly inspired groom-to-be used the ropes to have someone lower an engagement ring down to his intended.
On the south end of the island, near Soufrière, you’ll find Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort.
Where Jade Mountain offers views of the Pitons from a distance, Sugar Beach is snuggled down between the two towering rocks.
“At Jade Mountain, it’s like looking at a painting,” one Sugar Beach aficionado tells me. “Here, you’re inside the painting. You might say you’re nestled in the cleavage.”
We don’t spend the night at one of the villas, but my wife and I do manage our first-ever couples massage at the Rainforest spa, which sits deep in a sun-dappled jungle and where you can take your treatments in romantic, thatched roof huts.
We’re told to pick out our preferred massage scent out from 10 varieties, but to do so without cheating by looking at the descriptions. I settle on one, only to find out from my giggling masseuse that I’ve chosen a product that helps with menopause. I settle for a different aroma, which I find out is called “Get Going.”
My wife and I lie side by side in one of the darkened huts, and enjoy perfect massages that melt away the knots in our backs and shoulders, not to mention fingers and toes. After 60 minutes of heaven, we retreat to a private, warmed pool with a miniature waterfall and soak up the sounds of the nearby jungle, then beat a path to the beach to rest under a beachside umbrella and dine on octopus and crispy spring rolls and tasty rum punch.
We visit the Diamond Botanical gardens, where the plants include such offerings as Ladyskirt and sour sop, which our guide calls “the natural Viagra.” They perform weddings here in a lovely gazebo.
It’s just as romantic to take a stroll or walk up to Diamond Falls, a popular film location.
On a sultry Friday night, we take in the weekly street party called “Jump Up,” held in the town of Gros Islet. They close off some of the roads to cars and folks stroll around with $2 beers, eating barbequed chicken and fish cooked among heaps of smoke and listening to whatever music is thumping on the stereo.
There’s a guy with a pink football jersey, faded jeans and a Blue Jays cap dancing with whoever will take him up on his offer. Tourists and locals join in and sing and carouse together as the Black Eyed Peas come on the loud speaker. Bodies writhe in time to the beat and the crowd belts out the lyrics, “Tonight’s Gonna be a Good Night.”
Jim Byers appears regularly in Star Travel and also blogs five days a week onthestar.com/travel . You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org . You can follow him on Twitter @JimByersTravel and on Instagram @jimbyerstravel1. His trip was subsidized by the St. Lucia Tourism Board.
Jus the Facts
CAP MAISON: Our villa had a nice, private pool and full kitchen and two bathrooms, plus a large living area and a good tub and indoor-outdoor showers. Weddings can be performed on a pretty lawn with a gazebo overlooking the ocean. Rooms in January from around $400 with bed and breakfast. capmaison.com.
JADE MOUNTAIN: There’s a spa on site, where couples can hold hands during their massage, and a beach with a restaurant, boutiques, art gallery and a cool bar. There’s a private beach nearby where you can have more time alone, and a private dinner for two, served by your own chef. Rooms in January from around $1,300. All-inclusive packages are available. Weddings can be performed on the “celestial terrace” on the roof of the hotel, as well as the beach or even on a boat at sunset. jademountain.com
SUGAR BEACH: All units have iPads, as well as private pools and free beer and pop. The beach is one of the prettiest on the island. There’s also a cool art collection. Weddings are hugely popular at the resort. Rooms in January from around $850. viceroyresortsandhotels.com.
If You Go
Be sure to “Jump Up!”
Join in the weekly street party held in the town of Gros Islet