Ladera Hotel, St Lucia
LADERA: bright, local, castaway charmer
This hotel is in one of the most incredible locations in the Caribbean, high on a hillside with direct views of the dramatic V formed by the Pitons. Ladera is a collection of architecturally unassuming wooden structures angled to maximise the vista (modestly described as ‘views with a room’). It’s a quiet place with a fairly formal restaurant-bar, Caribbean and there are never many people around. But then this hotel is all about romance, and guests tend to hole up in their rooms: big, open-air Swiss Family Robinson-style fantasies with polished teak floors, rope swings, outdoor showers and carved four-posters. Caribbean There are plenty of eccentric (some might say kitsch) touches such as conch-shell taps, bright mosaics and carved stone fish around the private plunge pools. Ladera is 20 years old this year, and it’s starting to show, but the rooms are a lot of fun, provided you’re comfortable sharing them with geckos, birds and, at night, insects. The property doesn’t have its own beach (there’s a shuttle to the ones at the Viceroy and Anse Chastanet), so it’s best for those who are happy to savour the view rather than sun on the sand.
ROOM TO BOOK The new hillside suites are the freshest and most private.
CONTACT 00 1 758 459 6600; ladera.com.
PRICE Doubles from US$525
Hotel Chocolat Boucan St Lucia
HOTEL CHOCOLAT BOUCAN: young, cool, urbane scenester
St Lucia’s newest hotel is on the 18th-century Rabot Estate where the owners run a cocoa-growing project with local farmers. It’s essentially a restaurant with rooms showcasing Boucan, a lovely, open-air pavilion where all the recipes (cacao-nib-crusted pork fillet with mint sauce; spicy curried Caribbean chicken breast in coconut-and-cacao-nib sauce) use cacao or chocolate. It might sound like a gimmick, but Boucan is probably the best, and certainly the most interesting, hotel-restaurant on the island. (It’s also one of the few where you can get a well-made cocktail.) The ebony-and-white rooms have vaulted ceilings, draped four-poster beds and really smart bathrooms. Best of all, they have head-on views of Petit Piton. The hotel doesn’t have a beach, so there are all sorts of things to keep guests happy, including a lovely spa. With its cool, urban vibe, Hotel Chocolat is designed for younger travellers, the kind who explore by day and stay up late mingling at the bar; it’s a refreshing change of pace on the island.
ROOM TO BOOK A spacious Luxe Lodge room.
CONTACT 001758 457 1624; thehotelchocolat.com
PRICE Doubles from US$378
Cap Maison Hotel St Lucia
CAP MAISON: trusty gem with top service
On a headland in the far north of St Lucia, Cap Maison can feel a little remote, unless you’re an avid golfer, in which case its proximity to the island’s one 18-hole course is the only recommendation you’ll need. Designed in a kind of Tuscan-Andalucian style (clay-tile roofs, exposed beams, splashing fountains and plenty of wrought iron), it’s a quiet, gated community of privately owned villas with individual apartments rented out to paying guests. The lovingly maintained grounds are redolent with jasmine, frangipani, oleander and hibiscus. Because they were intended for long-term use, the rooms are large and very comfortable (if a bit bland). They also have proper kitchens, separate living and dining areas, and (unusual for St Lucia) TVs. Some rooms have private pools; all have big terraces with lovely sea views. Young couples seem to flock to Cap Maison: there’s a gorgeous, two-tier pool and a Champagne zipline that will carry a bottle of bubbly down to a private dining platform on the water. But perhaps the best reason to stay here is the staff, who are among the friendliest and most efficient on the island.
ROOM TO BOOK Ground-floor rooms have pools but are less private; those on the top floors have secluded roof terraces.
CONTACT 00 1 758 457 8670; capmaison.com
PRICE Doubles from US$420
Jade Mountain Hotel St Lucia
JADE MOUNTAIN: modern tropical living with a twist
‘Inventive’ is not really a word one associates with Caribbean hotels, but it certainly rings true at Jade Mountain, which is on a hill above its sister property, Anse Chastanet. Designed by architect-owner Nick Troubetzkoy, it’s a dramatic, multi- storey city in the sky, a mix of the natural (tropical hardwood and stone, hanging ferns, koi ponds) and the futuristic, with criss-crossing stairs, cantilevered walkways and columns topped with colourful glass-cube and iron sculptures. Jade Mountain is an otherworldly kind of place with an air of hushed tranquillity; even the rooms are called Sanctuaries, and there’s a Celestial Terrace for private events. Those Sanctuaries are jaw-dropping, sprawling, open-air spaces with 15ft ceilings, indoor-outdoor infinity pools and spectacular views of the ocean and the Pitons. The scale is such that the four-poster beds and oversized lamps fashioned from tree trunks barely register, but it’s all supremely comfortable, and when you return from dinner to find the whole place lit with tiny votive candles, pretty romantic, too. The restaurant produces dependably delicious dishes such as sea bream in a rock- shrimp broth with mussels and linguine. When you’re ready to hit the beach, staff will ferry you down to Anse Chastanet, but many guests don’t bother to budge.
ROOM TO BOOK One with a private pool.
CONTACT 001758 459 9000; jademountain.com
PRICE Doubles from US$1,050
Published in Condé Nast Traveller November 2012.
Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort, St Lucia
The ravishing renovation and renaming of The Jalousie Plantation is further proof that the Viceroy group has the Midas touch (its other Caribbean outpost in Anguilla is rockstar cool, with frozen fruity Martinis and supreme design). What a spot. It’s flanked by the famous twin peaks of the Pitons in 100 acres of lush rainforest, alive with butterflies and hummingbirds, which drops down to a perfect cushion of talcum-white sand (shipped in from Trinidad, but who cares?). Admittedly, the transfer isn’t the easiest, on a steep and twisty mountain road (pack the anti-sickness pills), but once you make it here it’s terrifically pretty: all white on white, from the clapboard cottages dotting the hillside to the beach bungalows with their four-poster beds, claw-footed baths, dark hardwood floors and plunge pools. Go for the latter, as some are barely 50ft from the beach, which means parents can loll on their terrace hammock while keeping an eye on little ones as they paddle. Everything has been exceptionally well thought out: there are butlers you can walkie-talkie; toys seem to miraculously tidy themselves up; the smoothies are health in a drink (the choco-nana is delicious). The old air of indolence has been re-energised, especially by the Caribbean infectiously enthusiastic individuals running the watersports centre, gym and new spa with treetop treatment rooms. Those ready to learn to dive should make friends with the resort’s long-time instructor Cocoa Puffs, although there are also fish visible straight off the beach. Yes, there’s a children’s club, Generation V, full of glitter and crayons and stickers, but there are also glass-bottom boat excursions, botanical gardens for hide and seek, fish-feeding, shell collecting and movies on the beach with beanbag seating. Stir yourself for the Friday-night fish fry in town (by water taxi), or for dinner over at Jade Mountain. Otherwise, it’s tempting to simply fall back onto a double sunbed while the children make busy. When they are worn out, the organic chicken soup will perk them up a treat; ditto the banana split with raspberry sauce. Meanwhile, adults can gorge on kingfish ceviche, chargrilled steak, red snapper or duck breast. The room service ticks every box, with spiced pumpkin soup, Caesar salad, BLTs, curried chicken roti, cheeseburgers and an epic, not-to-be-missed mango crème brûlée.
JOURNEY TIME A nine-hour flight, then a one-hour transfer by car
TIME DIFFERENCE -4 hours
INSIDER TIP More than Manolos, mosquito repellent is the must-have accessory: those swishy nets around the beds aren’t just there to look gorgeous.
BOOK IT Trailfinders (+44 20 7368 Caribbean 1200; trailfinders.com) offers seven nights from £2,049 per person based on two adults and one child, including flights and transfers.