Destinations - Articles - St. Lucia

  • Destination, St. Lucia
  • Chocolat Hotel
  • Windjammer Landing

by Camille Pepe Sperrazza Share on Facebook

"Commodore" Camille is a certified St. Lucia Specialist.

When I go on Caribbean cruises, I like to personally check out resorts at the various islands. This firsthand knowledge can better advise you, and it also serves to establish connections to better serve you.

St Lucia - On this trip, I explored one of the most exclusive resort on the island -- Jade Mountain, where each room has only three walls. The third is the incredible view of the mighty Pitons. Each open-air room contains a relaxing infinity pool, designed with running water flowing down the open side. You can control the pool's colors to set the mood. The setting is so serene and majestic, some people choose never to leave this tranquil space. You don't have to. Meals can be delivered to your room, and you have a refrigerator with snacks and beverages. The king size bed is surrounded with netting. An open bathroom has a shower area as well as a jacuzzi. There are lounge chairs and a sitting area. Each individual oasis is accessed via a private walking bridge. All rooms are stunning, but some rooms are larger than others, with the Galaxy Room being the ultimate in terms of space and view. As the resort's name indicates, it's all located in the mountains, but there is a black sand beach down the mountain, accessible by a shuttle bus, at your disposal. You can pick up a water taxi at this beach to explore other parts of the island. There's a beach restaurant, and a rooftop restaurant, with its priceless views. Opt to arrive by car, or go all out and take a helicopter to their helicopter port in the mountain, where you will be picked up via shuttle. Staying here is that once-in-a-lifetime experience you'll talk about forever. There are no televisions in the room. WiFi is available in one of the public areas. Opt to purchase your meals or get an all-inclusive plans. Certain high-end drinks are not part of the all-inclusive plan.

Anse Chastanet - At the base of this same mountain is Anse Chastanet, the more affordable sister resort to Jade Mountain. Some of these rooms have the same open fourth wall. Both resorts share the same beach and the same beach restaurant. You will pass through Anse Chastanet to get to Jade Mountain. Like Jade Mountain, this is a "tropical" experience, where people come to get away from it all. You will be surrounded by lush greenery, a real "rainforest"-type of experience.

St Lucian by Rex - If your budget is more modest, and if you prefer a resort that's located in the heart of Rodney Bay, where you can walk to shops and restaurants, the 3-star St Lucian is something to consider. It's located right on the beach, with beautiful sweeping ocean views. You'll notice the views as soon as you enter the main lobby where you can sit and watch the boats sail by. Rooms are basic, but adequate, each with its own balcony. Opt for garden, pool, or a beach view. All rooms are the same size, but nothing beats sitting on the balcony and looking at the ocean. There are two pools, and one has a swim-up pool bar. Opt for all-inclusive or a plan with breakfast only, allowing you to enjoy the many dining establishments, all within walking distance. There's also a casino you can walk to.

The Royal - This is the sister property to the St Lucian, located right next door, but it's a 4-star, and more modern facility, as evidenced immediately by the striking purple and white lobby. The rooms here are larger than at the St Lucian, the bed on its own level, and the bathroom is larger as well. Both of these resorts are on flat terrain -- many St Lucia resorts are not -- so this is something to bear in mind if you are not looking to do a lot of "climbing." But you will climb stairs to access certain rooms. Both of these resorts provide a more "city/beach"-type experience as you are not surrounded by lots of greenery, as are many resorts in St Lucia.

Le Sport Spa Resort in St. Lucia

How about being pampered on your next vacation?

At Le Sport Spa Resort in St. Lucia, you can expect the most relaxing 55-minute spa treatment every day of your vacation*. This includes full body massages; lime and ginger salt scrubs; ocean wraps; hand and foot massages; back and shoulder massages; facials; and more. Incredibly, a spa treatment a day is included in the cost of this all-inclusive vacation.

There's no additional charge for daily classes such as Pilates, archery, yoga, fitness, fencing, step, golf, tennis, and trapeze swinging, to name a few. This is your opportunity to try everything you've ever wanted to learn. My 22-year-old daughter and I took advantage of them all, including the complimentary session with a personal trainer.

The setting? Spectacular. Sometimes client ask for an "unspoiled" beach. This is it. The view is nothing but nature -- the sky, the ocean, and to the side, the peaks of the famous St. Lucia volcano. No other hotels are in view, and this beach is for guests of Le Sport only. You can relax and unwind for hours. From time to time, the staff brings a wet cloth to cool you down. Raise the flag, and they'll bring you anything you want to drink.

Or, you can go snorkeling, tubing, learn to dive, and participate in motorized water sports. The cost? Nothing. This is truly one all-inclusive vacation.

There are pools, Jacuzzis, an air-conditioned fitness room; a fully equipped and air-conditioned exercise room; lounge chairs; dozens of private massage rooms; and full bars. All meals and drinks are included. Now imagine this -- the famous Tao's Restaurant, the same one with branches in Manhattan and Vegas -- is located here. We dined there every night. Reservations are required.

Accommodations: We had a deluxe garden view room. It was a nice size, with two comfortable beds, and an air conditioner that worked very well. The back door opened up to a large patio where we could sit outside and soak up the sun. The bathroom had a lovely, large sink "bowl," and a shower with several jets that extended from the tiles, allowing you to get a massage when you shower. Note there is no television in the room, but believe me you won't miss it. After a day in the sun, a few exercise classes, a relaxing spa treatment, wine with dinner, and cocktails at the piano bar, you'll fall asleep instantly. Pool view and ocean view rooms are available.

Entertainment: There's a show every evening at the Clubhouse, and an intimate room with a piano bar where guests gather in the evening, to sing along with the piano player. Lots of fun. Amy Winehouse has been known to make appearances here.

Food: Breakfast is a buffet. There's everything -- omelets, pancakes, and French toast, made to order; tons of fresh fruit; croissants; muffins; breads; cereal; and more. There's a lunch buffet in this same area, and a deli closer to the beach, where you can get salads, sandwiches, smoothies, cakes, cookies, cappuccino, and more. At 4 p.m., enjoy Tea Time at the Clubhouse, with sandwiches, fruit, and cakes. For dinner, choose from the buffet at the Clubhouse, a sit-down dinner at the cafe, or dinner at Tao's. Note that while all meals are included, if you are so inclined, you may also select from choices at the cafe and at Tao's that require an additional cost. Wine is included, but high-end wines are also offered for sale at Tao's. We found the included wines to be very good.

Note that all dining establishments provide a "tropical experience." They are open-air venues. There is no air-conditioning, and with the exception of the buffet, many people dress up for dinner.

What else do you need to know? When we were there, we saw many couples as well some people traveling alone. If you want to go solo, you should feel comfortable doing so. We had a great time, mingling with other guests at the piano bar, during dinner, and at the pool. No matter where in the world we travel, there are always some New Yorkers, and we met a fellow Brooklynite as well. The resort tends to attract a lot of European visitors as well as Canadian guests. There was one "American" outlet in the room. If you plan to bring items that need to be plugged in, consider bringing an adapter and/or power strip.

The service at the resort is excellent; the staff is very accommodating and friendly. We felt very safe, relaxed, and happy. Note that it's not possible to walk to other hotels or shops. But you can hire a taxi, and tours that explore the island are available. In addition to the spa treatments and classes included, you may also opt to purchase a variety of unique spa treatments and activities. You will be required to climb a number of steps to get to the beautiful, outdoor spa area. A passport is required for this trip.

Ready for a fabulous vacation? Contact me today to make your plans.

*A spa treatment may not be available to you on the day of your arrival and the day of your departure. Activities and offers are always subject to change, at the discretion of the hotel.

This article was accurate when it was written, but everything in life changes. Enjoy the journey!

Copyright: Camille Pepe Sperrazza

Chocolat Hotel Share on Facebook

by Camille Pepe Sperrazza

Chocoholics, unite. This 14-room boutique hotel, opened since 2011, is our dream come true. It's built on a 140-acre chocolate plantation, and everything on the menu of its signature restaurant - Boucan - is infused with chocolate. We no longer have to wait for dessert to enjoy the best part of the meal.

Staying here, or touring the premises, offers an extraordinary opportunity to explore the plantation to learn everything we've always wanted to know about our favorite food. With a guide's assistance, we pluck ripe cocoa pods off the trees. We learn the green ones are ripest, and use a long tool, similar to the window poles used in elementary school, to push or pull them from trees, without doing damage to the crop. The guide expertly splits open the pods so we can suck fruit-like juices from the many pits inside. We view the beans as they ferment inside crates, covered with huge banana leaves. It's all organic here, and the chocolate is shipped to Germany where it is used by Lindt Chocolates, says our guide. His passion for the process, and his pride in the plantation makes the experience all the more enjoyable.

A highlight includes planting our own cocoa trees, labeled with our names, and entered into a database. We're invited to return to the hotel in six months, a year, or longer, to visit our trees, still bearing our names, and hopefully producing lots of cocoa beans.

On a second tour, we create our own chocolate candy bars by stirring fresh cocoa nibs, cocoa butter, and sugar inside heated molcajete-type bowls. We stir for quite a while, then pour the smooth liquid into molds which will be refrigerated and labeled. In about half an hour, the chocolate will be wrapped for us to take home to enjoy (if we can wait that long). We do get to lick the bowls clean, with plastic spoons.

As the candy bars set, we are invited to partake in a gourmet lunch that includes the hotel's signature drink, the chocolate Bellini - champagne infused with cocoa. Or, perhaps a chocolate martini - vodka infused with cocoa. The Boucan is the only restaurant on the premises, and it faces The Pitons, Saint Lucia's famous majestic mountains. Views are breath-taking.

I select a scrumptious salad appetizer of endive, greens, apple slices, and caramelized walnuts, drizzled with a chocolate dressing. Fantastic. This being Saint Lucia, I want a fish entree, and it's served on a cocoa-infused roll. The bread basket is accompanied with chocolate butter and a chocolate dipping sauce. Desserts include the "story of chocolate" - three types of refreshing iced desserts. Another is a chocolate tasting platter of filled chocolate candies and tarts. Hot weather be damned, I order a pot of hot chocolate, and it exceeds all expectations.

Below the restaurant is an infinity pool that reflects the mountain. The shape and coloring remind me of a giant candy bar, but the hotel manager says I am the first to make this observation.

The hotel accommodates 26 guests. Six of the 14 rooms are called The Lodge, and 8 are called Deluxe Lodge. As the name implies, the deluxe rooms are larger, and these rooms contain no fourth wall. Instead, the bed and lounge chairs face the mighty Pitons so guests can enjoy unobstructed beauty. Yet, there is a sliding door for those who prefer to be more enclosed.

The Lodge rooms overlook The Pitons, too, but views are through slated wooden windows. Beds in both room categories are fitted with white netting, for a cocoon-like feel. No rooms are air-conditioned as they rely upon the cool mountain breezes. Bathrooms are lovely, with modern sinks, and open stone walk-in showers that allow natural light to come from the sky. Like many Saint Lucia properties, the terrain is mountainous, and staying at the Deluxe Lodge especially requires climbing many steps. You're in the mountains, but the hotel does provide complimentary shuttle service to a nearby beach. Bring adapters because wiring is 220 volt. The Chocolat Hotel is for those looking for a quiet, intimate getaway.

Before leaving, stock up on quality chocolates and chocolate-infused products for sale. One is a thick chocolate stick so guests can go home and make "chocolate tea" by grating the stick over boiling water or milk, and adding some cinnamon. I'm sold. What took them so long to invent a place like this? I've spent a lifetime dreaming about it.

Ready for a fabulous vacation? Contact me today to make your plans.

This article was accurate when it was written, but everything in life changes. Enjoy the journey!

Copyright: Camille Pepe Sperrazza

Windjammer Landing Share on Facebook

by Camille Pepe Sperrazza

"Commodore" Camille is a Windjammer Specialist

Windjammer Landing is known for its stunning hillside villas that provide breathtaking beach views.

There are villas with one, two, three, and four bedrooms; spacious living rooms; and fully equipped kitchens. Not that you have to do any cooking. Windjammer can make arrangements for a chef to create a meal for you, if you wish. But if family members prefer to eat breakfast, without getting out of their pajamas, you've got a refrigerator, microwave, a stove, utensils, and pots and pans at your disposal.

Better yet, opt for the all-inclusive plan, and just consider that kitchen "extra space."

Private pools, outdoor Jacuzzis, sliding glass doors that lead to private lounges and picnic tables are just some of what you can expect when you stay at Windjammer Landing, located in Labrelotte Bay, about an hour and a half ride from the UVF airport.

We stayed at a Hibiscus Suite, and had our own private "ambassador" we could phone to handle transfer arrangements, dining reservations, and tour requests, a wonderful convenience. Our fully air conditioned suite seemingly had everything - including a laundry room, with washer and dryer.

There are water sports, banana boat rides, a fully equipped dive shop, kids' activities, and a spa. Participate in volleyball, coconut bowling, or bounce on the floating trampoline.

On-premise restaurants offer a variety of cuisine. Dragonfly features Caribbean dishes, but every Friday night, there's a big Texas-style barbecue here. One of the highlights is the smoked brisket which you can smell slow-cooking all day long.

Papa Don's is the Italian restaurant, located up the mountain. A shuttle bus runs throughout the resort, and while it can take you here and just about everywhere, be aware that this resort is for those who are able to walk steep inclines and climb steps. Pizza, pasta, and more are on Papa Don's menu, and for a Caribbean island, they do Italian surprisingly well.

Jammer's Beach Bar and Grill offers casual dining during the day. At night, the bar lights up with the sounds of calypso, reggae, or steel drums. Next door is Upper Deck, a seafood and steakhouse. Also beach front is Embers, another casual dining option.

Windjammer is ideal for honeymooners looking for quiet intimacy; families who appreciate spacious rooms with several bedrooms; and groups looking for space large enough to share with the whole gang.

Ready for a fabulous vacation? Contact me today to make your plans.

This article was accurate when it was written, but everything in life changes. Enjoy the journey!

Copyright: Camille Pepe Sperrazza

Sunset at Windjammer Landing