St. Lucia Trip: Part 1
Hey guys, remember when I went to Jamaica and reviewed family-friendly resorts and activities for you? (Here and here?) Guess what– I got to do it again, and this time, in St. Lucia. Same disclaimer as last time: the people asking me to review this stuff let me come down there and try it all out for free… But you know me and you know I’m always honest, so you know you can believe me when I say it was awesome. This one is gonna have to be another two-parter. Here we go!
I didn’t know much about St. Lucia before I went down there last week. I’m willing to bet you don’t either. In my opinion, that’s the best kind of tropical vacation destination– gorgeous views, sun, sand, and far fewer people around than any of the islands that Americans actually know about. Honestly, if I were you, I’d get down there before everyone else figures out how amazing it is and gets all up in your beaches.
St. Lucia is a tiny island in the eastern Caribbean sea, south of Martinique and north of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It changed hands between the French and the British about a million times in the past, which explains why the people there speak a French-based creole but drive on the left side of the (terrifyingly narrow and carsickness-inducing) roads.
I stayed at a beach resort in Rodney Bay called Bay Gardens that was so luxurious that I just assumed it was an expensive chain hotel. My suite was legit bigger than the apartment that I live in, no joke, and right on the beach. Here’s the view from my balcony:
Not too shabby, huh?
I was surprised to learn that the resort, and the hotel and inn associated with it, were actually a family-owned business. I’m going to digress for a second and tell you the story behind it, because I think it’s something that, in and of itself, makes the properties worth staying at.
Caribbean society is fiercely matriarchal, full of strong and seriously cool women, and Joyce Destang is no exception. Over 20 years ago, she bought the inn and a bunch of reclaimed swamp land in the area as well, and planned to build more hotels on it. She told us that she used to sit in the empty lot and imagine what she wanted her resort to look like. Everyone told her she was nuts for buying that land, but long story short, she basically built the three properties out of nothing, and constantly works to improve them and keep them competitive in today’s market– no small feat when you are competing with giants like Sandals. I met her and she was a fascinating woman, far too humble for the things she has accomplished and the empire she has built literally from the ground up.
I loved the story, loved the “girl power” aspect of it, and most of all loved that it was a family-owned resort that I found was a pretty awesome place for families to stay as well. Their Bay Gardens Hotel (less expensive, starting at $110/night for a family of four, but further from the beach) and Bay Gardens Beach Resort (more expensive, starting at $200/night for a family of four, but has a beach on property) have rooms that can be rented as a king-size bed or two doubles. They also have suites with a pull-out couch and full-size kitchenette and living room, with attached rooms that have two double beds and their own bathroom that can be rented in conjunction with the suite in order to sleep up to eight people. They have sitters on property who are also regular hotel staff, so you can get to know them before you trust them with your kids. And if the beach and pool aren’t enough to entertain your kids, there are kid-specific activities scheduled when there are enough children on property to enjoy them. Really, the rates for families are pretty incredible considering the location and how gorgeous the properties are (and they’re actually running a 70% off special on their websites at the moment, just sayin’.)
Another thing worth mentioning about St. Lucia is the food. The first night we were at Bay Gardens, we ate at their Caribbean fusion restaurant Trios, and honestly, you guys, there are no words. Well, okay, there are some words: seared ahi tuna with a ginger orange glaze and pineapple chutney with shrimp ceviche. King crab and coconut chowder infused with saffron and chive oil, served in a coconut bowl. Red snapper sampler with coconut rundown, creole, and rum cream sauces, St. Lucian sweet potato mash, and a calaloo garnish. Mango cheesecake with passion fruit mousse and a cinnamon, vanilla, and strawberry rum cream sauce. I am drooling all over my iPad and also I am super fat now, you guys. It was all so beautifully presented, too. And in case you were worried about the kids, although there is no kids menu, the staff is more than accommodating with requests for simpler dishes, and that goes for any meal at any of their restaurants.
On our last night on the island, we ate at Spice of India, one of Rodney Bay’s newest restaurants. Despite its short existence, it has already been rated #1 on the island via TripAdvisor, and let me tell you, it’s well-deserved. They serve authentic Indian dishes that truly are some of the best I’ve had, and the service is impeccable. If this place were in New York City, you wouldn’t be able to get in the door unless you were Oprah or something. Go. Eat. Love it.
To be continued shortly, with details of SNUBA, sightseeing, and the most incredible luxury hotel I’ve ever seen! Stay tuned for part two…