Sunseekers coming to the Caribbean are spoilt for choice when looking for their perfect beach holiday, but St Lucia is one of the favourites. In part, it’s because of its iconic Piton mountains: twin volcanic peaks in a valley that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s also home to the world’s only drive-in volcano, and the destination of dreams for all chocolate fans – Rabot Hotel – is set on a working cacao farm.
Visitors can explore its volcanic beaches, fishing villages, waterfalls and the port of Castries, the capital. The east Caribbean island nation is popular with birdwatchers and scuba-divers, too.
Read on for our luxury guide to St Lucia hotels…
One of the most amazing hotels in the world, Jade Mountain has an episode of the BBC series to prove it. The architectural masterpiece is at the top of the Anse Chastanet resort, but could be on another planet, thanks to its Bond villain lair meets Jurassic Park aesthetic.
These are no ordinary suites – where else in the world can you have an infinity pool in your bedroom? And we’re not talking a small plunge pool here, but a full-length pool extending from the bathroom to the villa’s absent fourth wall (they’re all open-air). Pathways criss-cross to the cascading suites, with colourful stained-glass windchimes creating the soundtrack.
The Piton-showcasing view from the comfort of your private pool is hard to beat, but the aptly named Celestial Terrace on the roof of the restaurant is the perfect sundowner spot. At the restaurant terrace below, guests can dine on giant coconut prawns, ceviche and tacos, all enjoyed with ice-cold rosé. Much of the produce comes from the Emerald estate, the hotel’s organic farm in the Soufriere hills. And if you’d rather stay within your Sanctuary, your Major Domo will be able to arrange in-room dining (and everything else).
Sugar Beach has it all – this holiday playground is the sort of hotel you could happily spend weeks at and never get bored. Arriving by boat brings you straight to the watersports club on the beach, helpful so that you can earmark all of the activities such as snorkelling and tubing to do during your stay. You may have been admiring them from afar, but at Sugar Beach you’ll be in a hidden cove directly between the two Pitons – one of which looks like King Kong in profile (if you squint).
Once a sugar plantation, the estate used to be owned by Lord Glenconner – and it still hosts an authentic English afternoon tea every day. The rainforest spa takes its setting as the inspiration for treatments in individual treehouses, separated by walkways under the canopies.
The resort is a great option for group get-togethers, since there are residences that sleep up to eight with their own staircase leading down to the beach. Every room, whether one of the cottages, bungalows or villas, has its own plunge pool, plus butler service. The estate is huge – it spans 100 acres of rainforest – so you’ll need to utilise the cars that will take you up and down (the pastel pink one is the obvious choice to try and shotgun).
Handily for extended stays, there are lots of restaurants to work through as well. The Cane Bar is a sleek sushi and cocktail space that would feel at home in any big city (despite being on a Caribbean island). The Jalousie grill on the beach is perfect for barbecued dinners, with excellent cocktails before (and after); and Saltwood is the perfect setting for a romantic dinner.
Directly beneath Jade Mountain and on a hillside leading all the way down to the shore, Anse Chastanet was one of the first luxury resorts on the island. It opened in 1968 and still has the same authentic, laid-back Caribbean feel, with rustic decor, traditional local fabrics and staff that will encourage you to be as happy as they are.
The land was once a sugarcane plantation, before the cocoa trees were planted – there are still plenty throughout the grounds, with their fruits put to good use in the estate’s homegrown chocolate. Organic turmeric, tamarind, mango, cashews and more are all still grown on-site.
There are early versions of the spectacular open-air suites at its sister property up above, with rooms here that have a wall missing and views out to two bays. Seaside activities in and around the 600-acre resort include cycling in the jungle, hiking in the Anse Mamin valley (with added bird-watching potential), snorkelling, paddle-boarding, kayaking and windsurfing – but the highlight is undoubtedly the weekly sunset jazz cruise, with a saxophonist serenading the guests on board and the rum punch flowing.
Body Holiday is one of the world’s leading wellness holidays, with the motivational mantra: 'Give us your body for a week and we’ll give you back your mind.' Itineraries are personalised to each guest, so the outcome can be whatever you want it to be.
Treatments range from the holistic and ayurvedic to Bhutanese rituals and acupuncture – and there’s even an ayurvedic temple to have them in. You’ll be able to keep (or get) fit with Pilates, yoga, t’ai chi, golf, tennis, archery and cycling – plus windsurfing, water-skiing and kayaking.
Rabot Hotel from Hotel Chocolat
Taking its brand name literally, this is the hotel edition of the luxury chocolate and a place where chocoholics can find true happiness. The six-acre Rabot Estate in St Lucia overlooks the Pitons. Guests can attend Project Chocolat, an agricultural-tourism experience that will teach them how cacao grows and take them on a tour of the rainforest groves, before a lesson in crafting their own chocolate bar. Cacao cocktails and street food will also feature, as will chocolate-enhanced spirits and beauty products.
Getting there: Virgin Atlantic has direct flights from London Heathrow to St Lucia Hewanorra International Airport, from £550 a person (0344 874 7747; virginatlantic.com).
At the water’s edge in Rodney Bay, Cap Maison has its own sandy beach and a restaurant that draws locals as well as guests. The hotel is formed from assorted villas and outbuildings, with columns, terracotta tiles and rooftop pools.
Since the island is a perennial favourite of honeymoons, hotels here have to up the ante when it comes to creating magic for newlyweds – at Cap Maison, guests can dine at a remote coastal setting, illuminated by candle-lit lanterns and tiki torches, with champagne delivered by zipwire. From this romantic spot (which is of course perfectly positioned for sunset), you’ll be able to see Martinique and Pigeon Island in the distance.
Ladera Resort is one of the most unique hotels in St Lucia, since it is located within a UNESCO World Heritage Site and on a volcanic ridgeline, a thousand feet above the Caribbean Sea. The Pitons sit directly in front of it and every room has an outdoor private plunge pool for a front-row seat to the island’s iconic peaks. Some have a swing suspended above the pool for added novelty value.
And to really make the most of the spectacular setting, the rooms – which have been crafted from tropical hardwoods, with furniture handmade by St Lucian artisans – have an open wall showcasing the dramatic backdrop.
For an all-inclusive resort in St Lucia, book a stay at East Winds, which has 30 cottages and a beach house on the shore, a secluded stretch of sand, and a restaurant by the water, where you can enjoy the catch of the day served with produce from local farmers or the kitchen garden. The decor is classically Caribbean in style, with vaulted white-wood roofs, ceiling fans, colourful cushions and curtains, and peaceful verandas.
St Lucia is popular with bird-watchers and East Winds is frequented by lots of colourful creatures – twitchers, don’t forget your binoculars.
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