By Danielle Young
There’s just something about uttering these two words, “Saint Lucia,” that brings so much light-hearted, tropical joy into your heart. It’s as if you’re breathing in the lush glory that breeds on that gorgeous island. Try it. “Saint Lucia…” feels good, doesn’t it?
As soon as you step off the plane, you’re introduced to a level of heat that may surprise you. Although the Caribbean island is known for its heat and amazing cool breezes, the bite of the heat will still shock you. I was sweating by the time I walked out of the small airport. There are plenty of smiling cabbie faces when you leave the airport—they’re eager to get your fare and to get you to your destination safely. Warning: The roads wind harder than a star of a Sean Paul video—bring your Dramamine. Even the best driver will induce car sickness.
We asked the driver to pull over during our long drive up to the north side of the island when we spotted people on the side of the road, cooking. Note: If you ever see people cooking on the side of the road in Saint Lucia, do yourself a favor and pull over. You’ll be met with authentic Saint Lucian treats, kind smiles and more than likely, some good music to boot.
The woman we stopped to see was serving up bread. Yes, bread. It was fresh baked in their stone oven, which I am convinced the man who was putting the bread in and taking it out, made with his bare hands. And the smell of that fresh bread was enough to keep me standing in the Saint Lucian heat in front of a very hot oven. No carb diet be damned, I was getting me some of that! The bread was called “criolla” and I watched the woman take the hot bread from the man, split it open and fill it with either a sausage sauce or butter and cheese. I opted for the butter and cheese and I swear I’ve never had something so simple be so satisfying in all my life! We ordered six of these fresh breads with butter and cheese and I swear we paid $5. They accept the US dollar and obviously, it’s very strong against the Saint Lucian East Caribbean dollar —so bring plenty.
During this trip, we opted to stay in two different hotels—one in the north side of the island and the other in the south side. In the south side, we stayed at Ladera Resort and honey when I tell you I have never seen this type of luxury before, I mean it! Keep reading because I am going to explain why Ladera is probably heaven in real life. I think Jesus resides there.
We stayed at the Body Holiday Resort in the north side of the island and the name is exactly what you’ll experience. Their motto is: Give us your body for a week and we’ll give you back your mind. SOLD! It is flawless.
Saint Lucia is a perfect island. It’s the type of vacation venue where even if you opt to do nothing, you’re doing the right thing. Seriously—do as much or as little as you want. Every vacation is worth a sit down and relax moment, an unplugging from life’s hectic to-do lists and Saint Lucia offers you that luxury, but so much more.
Here is a list of things I did on the island that I definitely recommend you trying when you come to Saint Lucia. Also, let me know when you’re coming so I can practice fitting into a suitcase. Let’s be real—you owe me. Thanks!
Mango Tree at Stonefield Estate Resort gave us a chocolate tasting dinner with 13 courses and enough wine to get all of Saint Lucia drunk. Body Holiday has a very fancy restaurant, Cariblue Windows which is also included, however for $85 you can get a chef’s tasting menu with wine pairings. During our fabulous dinner, seared foie gras and cauliflower cappuccino became my new favorite things. I highly recommend a little splurge here. Dasheene at Ladera took it a step further with a cooking demo that offered local fares like cocoa, lamb that melted in your mouth and callaloo soup that will have you forgetting how hot it is outside. And there’s an award-winning burger with crab rested on top at Jade Mountain that will make you question every other burger you’ve ever had. OMG, Cap Maison is another resort that’s close to Body Holiday and their restaurant, The Cliff at Cap Restaurant has some of the best squid ink risotto I’ve ever had (it’s the only I’ve ever had) and their short rib? Ugh, so amazing. The best thing about these resorts is that you can come over to eat at the restaurants without staying there. The food in Saint Lucia is cosmopolitan but saturated with local flavor.
Chocolate Tours. Who knew Saint Lucia was known for chocolate? And this isn’t the average candy—they harvest, grow, cut open, plant, transform and crush their own chocolate right there on the island. Go to Hotel Chocolat. It’s right near the lovely Ladera and allows for you to take their Tree-to-Bar tour which allows for you to tour the process of making chocolate, learn about the vast history as you go and at the end, you make your own chocolate bar, which is harder than it sounds and will leave you sweating and appreciating chocolate a lot more. You also get to plant a cocoa tree and taste plenty of the actual cocoa fruit.
Street Party. In the north side of the island, the locals host a street party every single Friday and it’s LIT! I am a fan of dancing, sweating and dancing some more, so it was right up my alley. The heat was sultry and almost stifling outside as we all gyrated our hips to the DJ spinning classic reggae, soca and of course some good old fashioned American radio tunes like Ludacris’ “Throw Them Bows,” Fetty Wap’s “Trap Queen” and The Ying Yang Twins’ “The Whisper Song.” Classics. But I was the “Queen of de Road” at the street party. I had men fanning me in the sweltering, sticky heat, men who would keep coming back to dance with me, men in front, men behind. One of my travel companions said I had every man’s attention that night. And as long as I’m the center of attention, that’s my kind of party. Not only are locals serving up their best intoxicating and fruity concoctions, but they’re also grilling, there’s more bread, chicken, all kinds of island goodies. It feels just like a block party with a hot island twist, with locals and tourists rolling their hips to the beat.
Ladera Resort This is the best place I’ve ever stayed in my life. Every single room at this resort has a pool in it. Some pools have swings, some are 6-ft deep, others face The Pitons head on, some are smack dab between two Pitons, but no matter how you slice it, every suite in Ladera is sweet! They all have a no fourth wall component which puts you right outside on the mountain, lounging in your pool. Every view at this resort is stunning. You must take advantage of their shuttle that takes you to Sugar Beach! It’s ridiculously gorgeous and you can spot it from your pool on the mountaintop that is Ladera.
Body Holiday. This is an all-inclusive resort tucked away in the beautiful hills of Saint Lucia is the perfect place to vacate, refocus, rejuvenate, revive, realign, reflect, re-energize, refresh or relax. Body Holiday is a resort that understands your need for all those “re’s” listed above. Wellness is at the center of this resort, but it’s not a forced healthy holiday—there’s plenty of booze and non-lettuce-like foods to consume, but there are also plenty of healthy options that support a well body, like yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates, nature trails with fitness challenges, and farm-fresh foods. There is a garden on a very steep hill that you can conquer, pick your own fresh ingredients and cook a delicious meal with their stellar chef. Also included is a 50 minute spa treatment every day that you spend at Body Holiday. I’ve never been a resort that includes a body treatment per day in their offerings. Body Holiday spoiled me.
Try The Rum. Who knew Saint Lucia distilled its own rum? To make this super easy I will just suggest a few rums to taste, because as discovered, it is a sipping liquor and is not necessarily best with Coca-Cola. Go figure. Chairmen’s Reserve has a few versions, but I was most in love with their spiced rum, which tasted like Christmas. Then there’s 1931, which feels like it will literally grow that many hairs on your chest. Admiral Rodney is a step below in knock our your throat department, but smooth nonetheless. The rum tastings had me wanting more and I purchased my own bottle of Chairman’s Spiced Rum to bring home. I never do that, but it had me convinced. There’s something so tasty and satisfying about homegrown rum. Try it for yourself.