trip report: st. lucia
For Memorial Day this year, we decided to test out the island life in St. Lucia. Many years ago, when I was still working full-time for Niche Media, I had met with the in-house publicist of Viceroy Sugar Beach, who was absolutely lovely and made me fall in love with the hotel. I had wanted to visit the property ever since and the long weekend seemed like the perfect opportunity. Plus, there are direct flights from New York and at only four hours, it's doable with a toddler. [A whole post is forthcoming on plane travel with the over-12 month set, by the way.]
The airport is a bit of a hike from the property, so the hotel recommended we reserve a car in advance. It was about the same price as a taxi, but it was a Mercedes and had beer. Double win! Sugar Beach itself is set into the hillside and slopes down towards a secluded beach area, replete with tons of lounge chairs, a beach bar, a restaurant, and hammocks. There are a bunch of different room types, we opted for the villa so that Avvie wouldn't be sleeping in a bathroom and we'd get some privacy.
The rooms here are simply splendid. The dressing room was literally the size of my New York City bedroom, we had a private pool and huge deck overlooking the ocean, and there was even fresh coconut waiting in the kitchenette. They also provide you with his and her phones, so you can either call each other or your butler (!), who handles everything from arranging a shuttle from your room to the restaurant to opening your coconut. I would say the only downside is that the room is so light-flooded, it can be tricky with a toddler when it comes time for naps. But a small price to pay for waking up to views of the beach.
The above photo is the view from our deck. The large, hulking green thing is the Petit Piton; there are two Pitons in St. Lucia, both of which can be hiked if you have the grit. We did not have the grit. We also had a toddler. But one of the reasons we chose St. Lucia for a vacation is that there is plenty to do other than sit around on the beach, which isn't really our speed. We even bought a toddler hiking backpack for the occasion, the Phil & Teds Escape, which seemed to be the lightest and most foldable on the market. I thought that maybe it would fit in our suitcase, but alas, we did end up having to check it. Regardless, I've been super happy with it. I especially love the sunshade and that it has little stirrups to avoid kids getting "deadleg." I didn't know that was a thing, but, cool!
As you can see, Avvie was quite pleased. Our inaugural use of the pack was a gentle hike on the Tet Paul Nature Trail. The top of the crest provides beautiful views of almost the whole island and you get to see a ton of native vegetation along the way.
Our other major excursion was to the Sulphur Springs, where we witnessed the worlds only "drive-in" volcano and slathered ourselves in volcanic, sulfurous mud. There's a bit of a joke on the island that everyone's skin looks so amazing because of frequent trips to the mud baths, but seriously, everyone in St. Lucia looks like 20 years younger than they really are. All three of us partook in the mud (I wish I had taken pictures!), but if I'd known how amazingly soft my skin would feel after, I would have ditched Mike and Avvie and hung out there all day. Just make sure not to wear any sort of bathing suit that gets stained -- the mud is dark gray and kind of stinky, too. It's also way too hot for babies or toddlers to submerge themselves in, so we lubed Avvie up while she was standing next to the pools.
The other major selling point of Sugar Beach for me was the food. Our first night there, the beach restaurant had a massive BBQ feast, which had everything from fantastic St. Lucian dishes (raise your hand if you're familiar with Christophine?), to kebabs, make-your-own ceviche, bananas foster ... the list goes on. I don't think I've ever gotten Avvie to taste so many new dishes before. Also, a huge shout out to the staff, who were so generous with their time when it came to keeping a toddler entertained. Every single meal at least three or four servers would come over to tickle her or make her laugh.
While we ate the majority of our meals on property, there was one restaurant that I'm so glad we made time for: Boucan. St. Lucia is known for their chocolate and Boucan is actually located on a chocolate plantation. As such, every dish on the menu involves some part of the cacao plant. But, since you can do a lot more with the plant than just make chocolate, there were plenty of savory bites to choose from. They did, however, serve dark chocolate as a dip with bread, which, seriously, I'll take over olive oil any day. And it should go without saying that the desserts here are magnificent; the chocolate mousse is perfect.
Thank you Sugar Beach and St. Lucia; we'll be back!