By Kelly Hushin
The cold weather will be here before you know it and you and your Sig O will be lusting after just a few more days of romantic beach-side bliss. Get ahead of that withdrawal now and plan a Caribbean getaway for winter. Come Valentine’s Day, you’ll be needing a retreat after all the chaos of holidays in the city. And you don’t have to go as far as Hawaii to experience a truly bio-diverse environment that will suit every interest and most of all, help you unwind and relax. Trust: the two of you will have nary a regret.
Photo Courtesy of Jade Mountain Resort
If you’re unsure which Caribbean island to escape to, you can’t go wrong with St. Lucia, particularly if you focus your trip on the plush, southwest area of Soufriere, where there are tons of resorts, restaurants and natural wonders to explore.
Here are our must stays, must eats, must drinks and overall must dos for you and your love – guaranteed bliss.
St. Lucia has no shortage of splurge-worthy spots for the most romantic holiday you can dream up. If you’re going for the all out paradise style spot (and who wouldn’t), Jade Mountain Resort is by all means your best bet. Consistently rated as one of the top resorts in the world, it comes at a pretty penny – but the memories you’ll have of your stay will be priceless.
Jade Mountain Resort in St. Lucia; Credit: Photos Courtesy of Jade Mountain Resort
Be warned that the road leading up to the resort is treacherous at best. If you’re renting a car, you might want to consider an SUV since this extremely uneven and potholed, narrow, uphill jaunt will leave you white knuckled if your car is anything remotely compact. At the top of the hill though, you’ll find the most beautiful oasis. Beware: your jaw may literally drop when you step foot on the property and into your suite.
In-room infinity pools cascade over a fourth wall open to the ocean. In the short distance is a view of the island’s famous Gros and Petit Pitons (those big mountains you always see in pictures). The open-air room will make for perhaps the best sleep you’ll ever have, in the net-enclosed canopy bed. Birds will greet you in the morning and fly over to your coffee cup – just know they will absolutely dive into anything sweet you leave around the room.
Photos courtesy of Boucan – Hotel Chocolat St. Lucia
Another great option for the more urban dweller (and those who might not be able to swing the Jade Mountain rate), is the new Boucan by Chocolat Hotel. Its central location in the rainforest of Soufriere makes it easy to enjoy nearby restaurants and sights (more on those later). Located on a cacao plantation, you’ll have no shortage of sweet treats at this spot (again, more on that to come). The best part of the room is a semi-open ceiling shower; a great place to rinse off and take in the sky after a day at the beach.
Eat & Drink
The gem of Hotel Chocolat – perhaps unsurprisingly – is the food and drink. The restaurant and bar overlooks Petit Piton and its design is reminiscent of a swanky outdoor Miami hotspot but without any affectation. You’ll feel right at home sipping a cacao martini or a chocolate daiquiri on one of the couches near the bar. Start your day with the hotel’s delightful breakfast, including a delicious chocolate-stocked homemade granola and chocolate butter for your bread – and a chilled cocoa and chilli shot to perk you up and get the blood flowing.
Boucan restaurant at Hotel Chocolat; Credit: Photos courtesy of Boucan – Hotel Chocolat St. Lucia
For lunch on at least one island day, head to Sugar Beach – a Viceroy Resort. Dine beachside at the Bayside Restaurant and try the ceviche trio or pan-seared yellow fin tuna. Don’t feel like putting shoes on and getting a table? Dine and drink beachside at one of the lounges to the right, at the Bayside Bar near the snorkeling area. There, you’ll have the best of both worlds – lounging by the beach in the company of an adorable feral cat or two (they keep the pesky birds out of your drinks), and drinking some delicious tipples, like Sugar Beach Punch or a Passion Royal Mojito.
For dinner, you can’t go wrong with many of the island resorts, but two spots in particular are favorites. First, try Apsara, the beachside East Indian/Caribbean fusion restaurant at Anse Chastanet (partner resort with Jade Mountain). If you’re not already staying at Jade or Anse, be prepared for the bumpy ride up. The payoff though is worth it. Try a side like Til Gobhi (cauliflower florets in a delicious sauce) for a starter, and do not skip the Tandoori Lamb as an entrée. The serene setting by the water would be enough to please even if the food were mediocre.
Apsara restaurant at Anse Chastanet; Credit: Photo courtesy of Jade Mountain Resort
The second dinner spot you can’t miss is at Oprah’s favorite island resort: Ladera. The resort’s restaurant, Dasheene, focuses on fresh, native ingredients from farmers and plantations that grow their produce mostly for Ladera. The view and the wine are the real draws here (along with the live music playing local and popular US tunes). Make sure you book enough time to enjoy it all at a sunset dinner here.
Dasheene Restaurant at Ladera; Credit; Photo courtesy of Ladera Resort
Your island experience would not be complete without at least one spa treatment at one of the many resort spas (we recommend more than one, if you can swing it). First stop: a Rose Renewal facial at the Kai en Ciel Spa at Jade Mountain. Your skin will feel rejuvenated when you come back to your room where your partner is cat napping or lounging in the in-room pool, patiently awaiting your refreshed return.
Photo courtesy of Jade Mountain Resort
For a truly romantic couples spa experience, you absolutely cannot miss the couples massage at the Rainforest Spa at the Sugar Beach Viceroy. The two of you will be escorted to a treehouse villa where you’ll enjoy being rubbed down with local coconut oil that’s pure magic. After enjoying over an hour of pampering in this luxurious hut, your massage therapists open the door for you and your partner to enjoy a private, outdoor, naturally-heated jacuzzi tub. The only downside is that you and your love have only 20 minutes or so in the natural pool when you’ll feel you could stay all day. In other words, as delicious as you both smell, don’t get too frisky!
Rainforest Spa at Sugar Beach; Credit: Photo courtesy of Sugar Beach – a Viceroy Hotel
If you’re in the Caribbean and you don’t take a dip at least once or twice donning a snorkel, or better yet, scuba gear, you’re making a big mistake. The more you can get in the water, the better. Its crystal blue-green feels even better than it looks.
Photo courtesy of Jade Mountain Resort
As a guest at Jade Mountain or Anse Chastanet, you’ll have the privilege of scurrying down to the beach and taking a dive with one of the best instructors you can find (having been on several “discovery courses” around the world, I know this to be true.) His name is Victor, and you must listen to his every word during the very quick, but thorough explanation of your scuba gear and how you’ll use it. Before you know it, you’ll be exploring the depths of Anse’s reef, where you’ll see the most brilliantly colored fish, coral, and if you’re lucky, a gentle and massive sea turtle. Remember – don’t touch, just look with admiration.
Photo courtesy of Sugar Beach – a Viceroy Hotel
If you’re not quite so adventurous, make sure you do some snorkeling while visiting Sugar Beach. The cordoned off area on the right, northerly side of the beach, is generously sized so you’ll be occupied for hours as you swim on the surface. Hold your breath and dive down to explore some of the more curious creatures like eels and barracudas – they’re surprisingly docile, don’t be scared!
Water activities not your thing? There’s plenty to do on land as well. Boucan’s resort sits on a cacao plantation which you can tour with a guide or walk around for a few and explore the area yourself. You’ll see tons of cacao trees with cacao pods in varying colors. Your guide will tell you how to know if they’re ripe. When they are, prepare for a taste unlike anything you’d expect. Crack open the yellowish green pod to reveal a series of gelatinous, slimy pods inside. Don’t be grossed out – that mucous-y slime is actually delicious. Break off each pod and suck the goo off – it’s a fruity gel that’s a mix between passion fruit, apple and melon. In fact, if you had the cacao martini at the Boucan bar any night previous, you’ll know where that delicious and peculiar flavor came from.
Other daytime activities? Hike the Pitons. Walk to the sulphur springs (i.e. an active volcano you can walk right up to – though it smells exactly like rotten eggs – be warned). Explore a waterfall. Bird watch in the rainforest. The activities list for St. Lucia is endless, so don’t worry about being bored.
Top off the evening with a sunset sail back at Anse Chastanet. Your sailboat guide will take you from the Anse beach around the Soufriere village and Sugar Beach, then back over to Anse. From this vantage point, you’ll be able to see the splendor that is Jade Mountain, perched on the cliffside. You’ll also see schools of jumping fish and dolphins if you’re lucky. There couldn’t be a more perfect ending to your romantic vacation in paradise. You won’t want to leave, but you’ll be comforted to know that this heaven on earth island is just a short flight from NYC and your first trip surely won’t be your last.