Glorious beaches, fairytale Piton mountains and lush jungle scenery make St Lucia a perfect slice of Caribbean paradise, but this feels like heaven when you are a guest of the island’s Sandals Resorts
Words by Libby Norman
St Lucia sits like a teardrop-shaped diamond in the Eastern Caribbean and, with its lofty twin Piton mountains, lush banana groves and French influences in culture and cuisine, it’s definitely within the paradise-on-earth part of our planet. Having visited once before – many moons ago and on the budget end of budget – the opportunity to revisit and stay at two luxurious Sandals St Lucia Resorts is just too good to miss.
Inside our Suite it feels rather as if we are floating, like heavenly bodies, somewhere above the earth
We are whisked from airport arrivals hall to Sandals’ private lounge to freshen up, grab a cool drink and snack. Our limo driver has thoughtfully placed a wicker hamper in the middle of the back seat containing cool beer and more snacks. Cruising through the gates of Sandals Regency La Toc, just outside the capital Castries, there’s an instant sense of space, peace and the kind of haute gardening skills that could earn the team here a gold medal at an RHS garden show. Fruit punch and more tempting small eats at reception (patisserie this time), and then we are whisked by golf buggy back down the steep hill to our room.
Room is the wrong word. What we have is our own private eyrie – officially it’s a LoveNest Butler Suite, and it does feel rather as if we are floating like heavenly bodies somewhere above the earth. The first-floor living area leads out onto a large balcony screened by trees, making it utterly private. The tree branches are packed with tropical birds serenading us so lustily that we can only just hear the lazy lap of the waves below. Are these birds, I wonder briefly, trained to greet all guests like this?
Downstairs, the lavish bedroom and bathroom suite extends out to another wooden deck with huge bathtub behind a screen, more loungers and steps down to the vast and seemingly deserted beach. With champagne, local rum and a bartender’s delight of spirits and mixers, we could easily spend the entire week never going out.
Our butler rings the doorbell and shouts a cheery hallo. Having been raised on a little too much Jeeves and Wooster, I was worried we might not meet the required standards, but our first meeting with Sherman sets us straight. Not only is he resoundingly un-Jeeves-like, but also willing and able to secure us top-table seats at any of La Toc’s restaurants, as well as giving us the inside track on where to go and what to see. We are even given our own butler phone (we can’t help calling it the bat phone) and can call him anytime if we get lost, get bored, want breakfast in bed, dinner on the terrace or simply a sundowner on the beach and can’t be bothered to move.
Sherman whisks us out on a butler tour, taking in the Oceanview Bluff Millionaire villa with its jaw-dropping views over the entire coast from three-level sundeck. Then he gives us an insider’s guide to the resort, pointing out all the best places, suggests a dining itinerary for the next few days and bids us goodbye with a reminder to call him: “anytime”.
We are given our own butler phone and can call if we get lost, get bored, want breakfast in bed or just a sundowner on the beach
We are bowled over by the space here. There’s plenty of fun and company to be had at the poolside and swim-up bars, the fire pits or – our favourite – at the piano bar, but if you feel like being à deux you simply tuck yourself in one of the many secluded love seats, cabanas or hammocks. The next few days pass in a dream of tropical sunshine, VIP treatment Sherman style, great cocktails and excellent food. We take a brilliant sunset cruise with Island Routes, drinking heady rum cocktails while watching the sun go down. We dine at the resort’s signature restaurant La Toc, a superbly accomplished meal that reflects the island’s (and head chef’s) links with all things French.
During the daytimes we enjoy the beach, the great pool and our private eyrie above the waves. We know we could dive (Sandals offers unlimited diving at all its resorts), play any number of land or watersports or catch the shuttle to one of the other Sandals resorts for a change of scene, but this is heaven and that means you’re allowed to be lazy.
For the two final days, we move on to The Grande St Lucian for what turns out to be a highlight – a two-night stay in one of its new Over-The-Water Bungalows. We’re among the first group of guests and decide we’ve gone from the sublime to the ridiculously sublime. Perched on a private jetty with a gorgeous fire pit opposite the front door, this offers complete peace – and ocean.
There’s a huge bedroom suite with an area of glass floor where we can watch fish swimming below. Double doors open onto a deck with hammock, outdoor shower, bathtub for two, loungers and steps down to the water. Our super-efficient and smiling lady butler Ariann keeps us in champagne, fruit, canapés and other delicacies – all artfully arranged in the lobby-cum-kitchenette every time we arrive home.
Double doors open onto a deck with hammock, outdoor shower, bathtub for two, loungers and steps down to the water
The Grande has a quite exquisite beach and here – as at La Toc – we witness a fair few weddings. One has a beautiful bride, a handsome groom in uniform and a guard of honour that makes me go a bit misty eyed. There’s a glamorous full-scale party on one of the piers on another night with local steel drum band. Another wedding is simply a couple holding hands on the beach in front of the minister, together in paradise.
On our final night we are escorted by Ariann to dine in style at Gordon’s located on its own pier right at the other end of the beach. Delicious seafood and steaks slip down beautifully as we survey the moonlit ocean. And then we wander back across the beach for a final toast to good times around our own personal firepit. St Lucia is a slice of paradise in the Caribbean and we decide we’d love to return to the island – it’s just that now we’ve stayed in heaven, will anywhere else do?
About Sandals St Lucia
Sandals Resorts offers three different holiday locations in St Lucia in the Gros Islet and Castries area. Find out more about Sandals Regency La Toc LoveNest Butler Suites and Sandals Grande St. Lucian Over-The-Water Bungalows, as well as Island Tours excursions and Sandals Resorts weddings and honeymoons at sandals.co.uk