The Landings Hotel, St Lucia

The Landings resort provided us with luxurious accomodation for two nights during our week long stay in St Lucia. Like many hotels in the Caribbean, this expansive property is suffering from the reduced tourism on the island, and when we visited it felt like we almost had the place to ourselves, with plenty of room to relax and unwind.

The property is huge, and some incomplete apartments demonstrate the original design’s intended scale; lack of funds means some buildings are still to be finished. The main entrance is very grand with a marble floor and spacious reception lounge for guests. We were beginning to get used to the customary rum punch on arrival and right on cue, a smiley waitress brought glasses along, strong rum concoctions with an extra pinch of spice sprinkled on top. After brief hellos, we were escorted in a buggie to our quarters.

We were housed in a luxurious large apartment, with two bedrooms, three bathrooms, a huge living area, two balconies (one with a jacuzzi hot tub!) and everything else you could need to live at the Landings for a substantial length of time. It was blissfully cool inside, the air-con worked wonders cooling one down after a sunbathing stint on the beach. Everything was in tiptop condition, surprising considering the reduced number of guests occupying the rooms. The decor is attractive but plain, very neutral and easy, perfect for families or even business trips. I loved the extras: washing machine and dryer were used to the max during our stay, flatscreen TVs and speakers and other useful gadgets. Sweetly the staff had left a complimentary bottle of white wine and a cheese plate in the fridge for us.

The bathrooms are impressively smart, with his and her sinks and posh toiletries. Guests have the choice of a shower and a bath for refreshing and revitalising. We were extremely comfortable throughout our stay in this deluxe villa suite where every detail has been thought of for one’s convenience and enjoyment.

If you don’t feel like leaving the hotel there is a variety of activities on site to try. We played on the tennis courts, tried out the spa and enjoyed numerous cocktails on the beach. One night we were even lucky enough to watch and listen to the best saxophonist on the island playing whilst we sipped our fruity drinks at the sea’s edge. There are two restaurants: the fine dining Palms Restaurant and the Beach Club. I was disappointed to find Palms intermittently closed, and so we settled for a casual meal in the Beach Blub Brasserie. The food here was rather average, a real shame considering the high quality elsewhere at the Landings. We tried grilled burgers and seafood, fresh but bland. The typically Caribbean cocktails were nice but too sweet too finish. Perhaps the real showstoppers come out at Palms.

I was sad to see the Landings so empty when we visited in November. With so few people it seems understandable that certain aspects of the hotel will suffer. Despite this we had a lovely relaxing time and I adored the spacious luxurious suite. It seems this hotel has so much potential and yet is struggling to secure guest bookings. Hopefully its luck will change in the new year.

More information here.

http://www.thelandingsstlucia.com/

Sandals Grande, St Lucia

The Sandals empire is growing thick and fast across the Caribbean, with the newest opening in Grenada just announced. There are three Sandals on the island of St Lucia, each with their own specialities and qualities. We spent the final two nights of our epic Caribbean trip at Sandals Grande St Lucian in the north of the island. Totally relaxing and luxurious, it was the perfect hideaway for our precious last days of sunshine.

Every Sandals destination sits directly on a stunning beach, with impressive stretches of white sand and expanses of clear turquoise water. Grande St Lucian is no exception and in fact is often described as the “closest location to a picture postcard”. As many will already know, Sandals is adults only (there are many alternative family focused resorts) and they offer all-inclusive holidays, so you need not worry about a thing.

The resorts all provide a transfer service to and from the airport so that your holiday can start the moment you step off the plane. We were very excited to be met by a chauffeur driven car with chilled champagne and chocolate ready for us to munch on during the journey to Le Grande.

Moments away from Rodney Bay and Pigeon Island, there is plenty around to entertain visitors, though I can understand why some are reluctant to leave the resort. After a thirty minute drive we arrived at our destination. The three storey lobby provides a very grand entrance, a highly polished and decorated palace, not necessarily to my taste but impressive nonetheless. We were greeted by smiling staff with cold flannels, introduced to our butlers (yes there were two) who escorted us to our living quarters.

We were staying in an Ultra Grande Luxe Rondoval Suite with our own Private Plunge Pool & Whirlpool. After a long tiring journey it was blissful to arrive in this fully equipped mini apartment. Decorated with warm neutral tones and soft comforting furnishings, it is an ultra relaxing suite that we felt instantly at home in. The bed was luxuriously big, soft and bouncy… the kind you immediately sink into. Every additional amenity is available, with fully stocked fridges and unlimited champagne and spirits for thirsty guests. The ‘his and her’ bathroom facilities are lovely and spacious with a gloriously big jacuzzi bath, indoor and outdoor showers. My only complaint concerned the internet, which is not free and is difficult to access from the rooms.

Everything aquatic is available during your Sandals stay, with an alluring dive reef just five minutes away. There are five fresh water pools on offer including the Sandals signature energy pool with swim-up bar and the romantic beachside heart-shaped pool for lovers (a bit schmaltzy). For more adventurous guests a variety of watersports and boating activities are available, many are free of charge and should definitely be taken advantage of.

The dining options are numerous, with eight international restaurants at Le Grande and a further twelve eateries on offer at the other two St Lucia Sandals branches. We were lucky to try some of the best, including the renowned over-the-water Gordon’s and the fine French restaurant La Toc in the other Sandals branch. Whilst eating in the warm evening air, you can enjoy the nightly entertainment which includes live music and performing acts. For lighter meals during the day, beachside grills and pizzerias are available for peckish sunbathers. I found I enjoyed the simpler food at Sandals, where the qualities of the delicious Caribbean produce can really be noticed and appreciated.

Before leaving the resort we were lucky enough to try the spa (see review here). I can recommend this as a truly lovely addition to your holiday with very experienced therapists and individually tailored treatments, it is a refuge of ultimate indulgence.

Anything you could wish for is possible at Sandals where they strive to make every couple’s dreams come true. For many, a ‘once in a lifetime’ holiday becomes a yearly anniversary… the Sandals way of life is certainly addictive, I was very sad to leave.

More information here.

http://www.sandals.co.uk/

Anse Chastanet Hotel, St Lucia

It is the unexpectedly and exceptionally thoughtful care from the staff that makes people come back to Anse Chastanet year after year. Their return rate is rivalled by none and while other Caribbean hotels suffer from the recession this spectacular resort continues to thrive. I felt incredibly lucky staying at this postcard perfect venue, cited often by top magazines as one of the most impressive hotels in the World.

Located near Soufriere on the West Coast of St Lucia, it was a rocky and windy drive from our previous accommodation in the north. After nearly two hours of nausea inducing twisting road, I was delighted to arrive at the heavenly Anse Chastanet. We were greeted by beaming staff and offered sweet sugarcane adorned juices. I felt instantly relaxed and calm.

Anse Chastanet is completely eco-friendly and eco-effective, but miraculously manages to remain unplugged while also giving comfort and luxury. Offering guests all inclusive stays with numerous dining choices, there is little to worry about here. We were in the passion flower room, a gorgeous suite with breathtaking views of the Pitons and the sea. Nick Troubetzkoy’s clever and creative architectural design allows guests to enjoy as much of the surrounding views as is possible. With a passion for nature, he uses the location’s assets to his advantage creating truly unique rooms with panoramic vistas.

The rustic furnishings and simple Caribbean style add charm and atmosphere to the rooms. We loved the quirky, brightly checked material which has become Anse Chastanet’s signature pattern. It can be spotted on the furniture and staff uniforms, as well as in the rooms and on the wonderful dressing gowns. The grand bed was huge and very comfortable, enveloped by a mosquito net to ward off all unwanted visitors in the night.

After sunrise yoga each morning, we wandered down to the treehouse to pick our feast from the unlimited selection of goodies. Freshly made to order omelette was my favourite as well as the glorious displays of fresh exotic fruits. After a hefty morning meal, it was down the steps to the sea. On the Anse Chastanet beach, we experienced the conscientious personal service again… beach attendant Junior came round “spreading the happiness” with his lemongrass spritzing and cold towels. Red flags are available at every chair and when dunked into the sand, a waiter comes running to attend to your cocktail needs. A beach bar-cafe is open all day for light grilled meals and cooling drinks… it is a lovely place to sit in the shade and enjoy a snack while the waves crash against the shore.

Looking back on my Caribbean trip now when friends ask, which of the eight hotels I stayed in was the most memorable, my answer, without question, is Anse Chastanet. This staggeringly beautiful accommodation is faultless, with incredible cuisine, wonderful watersports, brilliantly eco-friendly rooms, traditional design, unique architecture and unforgettable views.

More information and book here.

http://www.ansechastanet.com/