Sugar and Spice AND EVERYTHING NICE
Sweet by name, sweet by nature... Sugar Beach in St Lucia is a stunning kaleidoscope of colour suited more to a gorgeous Disney movie than real life.
Entrancing hues shimmer everywhere; from myriad rainbow butterflies to the vibrantly azure hummingbirds, to the lush greenery and scarlet flowers. Add sparkling soft white sand and sapphire sea and you have a slice of pure paradise.
We were dazzled by the first sight of this resort which is a go-to for Hollywood’s finest. You can see that Matt Damon was going for a true fairytale wedding when he took it over to renew his wedding vows - its wildlife drifts by like a lovely dream sequence.
At night we saw for the first time fireflies dancing and my nineyear-old daughter Megan was convinced they were Tinkerbell and her fairies. And remember the famous scene in Snow White, where the bluebirds follow her in the forest? You get the picture…
Impossible though it is to outdo nature, the brains behind the Viceroy Resort on St Lucia’s glorious west coast give it a jolly good run for its money. Viceroy has spent millions turning what was the slightly tired Jalousie Plantation hotel into Sugar Beach, which is without doubt the most sophisticated resort on the island.
Once a working sugar plantation, the 18 th -century colonial style is kept intact, but with contemporary touches. It is the best of both worlds and the ultimate in luxury.
Nestling in lush foliage and under the gaze of the dramatic Pitons are plantation-style guestrooms, bungalows and villas. Our two-bedroom villa, surrounded by colourful papaya, mango and banana trees, was positively princely. Dreamy white voile draped over the four-poster beds which gave us the best night’s sleep, clawfoot bathtubs so generous you could practically swim in them and opulent furnishings finished to the highest standard. Even the luxurious walk-in shower was larger than the average London bathroom.
An elegant patio and cooling plunge pool completed the picture. But the icing on the cake has always to be the superb service of which Viceroy is justifiably proud. Our discreet and very smart butler somehow knew our wishes before we did and we were given mobile phones and direct dial access so we could contact the butler team whenever we needed them.
My elder daughter Hannah suffered a bout of tonsilitis when we arrived. Within an hour of consulting reception she was seen by a doctor and was taking the necessary antibiotics.
Such prompt treatment meant she quickly recovered and could enjoy the rest of the holiday and the staff couldn’t have been more caring.
The resort is family-orientated in general, providing many supervised activities for children between four and 12 years old which achieve the holy grail of being both fun and educational. Some combine fascinating facts about the rainforest and the ocean with story-telling, dance classes and craft making. The resort also offers special activities for tweens and teens, everything from tennis tournaments and kayaking, to pinball machines and video games. My daughters adored the pursuits – and the lovely staff – and wished for more hours in a day.
Lots of adventures for grown-ups too, ranging from beach volleyball, tennis, lots of fitness classes, riding, hiking, biking and the best scuba diving I have ever experienced. With an incredible array of sea life, Sugar Beach’s underwater world is as breathtaking as its terra firma.
Which is handy if, as we did, you need to exercise after diving into the delicious meals on offer. I’m not exaggerating when I say the food was fit for royalty. Executive chef Andrew Jones, formerly head of seafood restaurant Chamberlain’s of London, has catered for royal palaces and cooked for members of the British Royal Family. His exquisite and adventurous taste stands out in the hotels six top-notch restaurants and bars. We had too many mouthwatering foods to list, but firm favourites were the succulent Yellowfin tuna in the Bayside Restaurant, and the breakfasts at the Terrace Restaurant. I have never tasted such amazing smoothies and the omelettes and blueberry French toast was to die for. Creole flavours and delicate spices form part of many of the menus and my husband particularly favoured hot pepper sauce with all his meals. The drink offerings were sublime with a vast wine cellar offering and I can’t think of a better start to an evening than a cocktail at the Bayside Bar; a Sugar Beach Punch or a heavenly Paloma while watching the sun set is very hard to beat.
Guests are encouraged to enjoy all of the fabulous locations in the resort. You simply choose the time and place, the chef will devise a personalized menu to suit.
For an experience out of the ordinary, there is the nearby plantation house where Hotel Chocolat delights are created. We enjoyed lunch there at the Boucan Restaurant, and loved learning to make our own chocolate from cocoa seeds. The island is easy to navigate and car hire is straightforward and easily available. St Lucia also boasts it’s own ‘drive-in’ volcano which is an experience not to be missed.
Yoga on the terrace overlooking the Pitons has to be the best location in the world to practise Sun Salutations
Wellness is also a huge part of life in St Lucia. Yoga on the terrace overlooking the Pitons has to be the best location in the world to practise Sun Salutations and Sugar Beach’s Rainforest Spa is so restful I was in danger of drifting off to sleep during a wonderful bamboo massage. Also highly recommended was the best salt scrub I have ever experienced.
As a family we are lucky to be able to travel a lot, but leaving the resort was a real wrench for all of us. We took many pictures, but they cannot do justice to the beauty of this resort.
In short, there is no need to candy-coat any description of the heavenly Sugar Beach.
Rates in a Luxury Sugar Mill Room start from $455 per night, room only. Rates in a two bed superior luxury cottage start from $1,785 per night. British Airways fly daily to St Lucia, viceroyhotelsandresorts.com/sugar-beach. For more tourist information about the island, visit stlucia.org and for car hire see carhire.tv