If you’re looking for blue skies this winter, you can’t do much better than a visit to the island of St Lucia in the Caribbean. Lying between the islands of St Vincent, Barbados and Martinique and around 200 miles from Venezuela, St Lucia is tropical and green, with lush forests and mountains that fall away to reveal jagged, discrete shorelines.
Beach snobs will tell you that the islands of Barbados or, further afield, Antigua possess a better class of white, sandy beach. This may be true in the south – although the black sand volcanic beaches such as those at Anse Chastanet Resort are beautiful in their own way – but the northern beachscape at the family friendly all-inclusive St James Club in Morgan Bay can certainly hold its own.
At the higher-end of the all-inclusive resorts(around US$800 per night including treatments, fitness and food), The Body Holiday Hotel is hard to fault. The perfect hideaway for anybody wanting to hone their physique, look after their mental and physical health or wash away a stressful lifestyle, The Body Holiday’s promises is: “give us your body for a week and we’ll give you back your mind.” Having wandered around for a few hours, I can well believe that; there are treatments and fitness classes galore, as well as nutritious organic food, locally sourced where possible, and a sense that the environment here is as much loved and cared for as the guests themselves.
But what it lacks, further south, in picture-perfect shores, St Lucia makes up for in views. For a romantic rainforest hideaway in the hills above the colourful fishing village of Souffriere, Hotel Chocolat is perfect: luxury rooms and suites hidden within the cocoa groves that provide the rich, dark chocolate used in almost every dish on the menu. You can’t get much closer to the source than that, although if you don’t like chocolate you may find it difficult to eat at the stunning, wood-panelled Boucan restaurant, where even the balsamic vinegar is laced.
For ultra-luxury, there’s nowhere in the world quite like Jade Mountain, a half-hour drive away. Oval-shaped and sitting atop a cliff, the 27 rooms here are referred to as “sanctuaries”. It sounds pretentious until you walk inside one: it can’t be just another ‘room’ if it has a jacuzzi, infinity pool and, crucially, no fourth wall – yes, the pool falls off the side into the open air, offering a view of the Pitons that will literally steal the oxygen from your lungs. And don’t worry; if you get anxious about birds or insects, or just fancy a cup of coffee, you can use your assigned mini-mobile phone to call your butler. Now that’s what I call service.