We had a mild winter in New York but no matter, I needed nonstop sunshine and heat on my bones, so a Jet Blue direct flight took me to St. Lucia for a week.  I’m guessing that I have more island adventures in my future now that I’m East Coast centric, and St. Lucia has to be one of the more beautiful in the Caribbean with its lush Pitons and dense palms.

STAY

The island abounds with three wall open air accommodations where you have a private plunge pool overlooking the Pitons.  Jade Mountain is one of the more popular in this category but with a three year old in tow, I figured I’d better stick with four walls and air conditioning so The Jalousie Plantation with its perfect location nestled on a beach between the Pitons was it for us.  And it didn’t disappoint.  Our Sugar Mill room was perfect for us, with a private plunge pool, rooftop deck, and our own garden where hummingbirds made their home.  The room was more like a mini house with white walls, dark wood floors, a huge four poster king bed dressed in white sheets and mosquito netting (my daughter called this our ‘princess’ bed) and a large bathroom (stocked with luxe Lady Primrose products – a personal fave!) with a claw foot tub, and a large dressing area.  The resort also has fantastic villas (request 702 or 704) on the hill with knock out views, but the Sugar Mill rooms’ proximity to the sea, pool and restaurants was perfect for our stay.

Alternatively, if you are not traveling with kids under age 12 and you have an interest in a more active (think hiking, zip line) vacation, then you may like the new Hotel Chocolat, just up the road from Jalousie.  Their resort manager Lorna took me on a tour and showed me both room categories.  The hotel is on a 150 acre working cacao plantation and the accommodations were eco luxury with outdoor showers and a more contemporary rather than plantation feel.  Their website describes dozens of hikes you can take from the property, something I would have enjoyed had I not had a tiny swimming monkey attached to me at all times.

EAT

Jalousie has a meal plan that many visitors choose and it’s not a bad option if you have a family and you don’t feel like the 40 dollar cab ride up a winding road to eat elsewhere.  The Great Room at Jalousie was a splendid surprise.  Fine dining complete with a complimentary glass of champagne and an amuse bouche before the meal.  Gorgeous watermelon gazpacho and salmon sashimi.  Good to note that kids under 5 eat free at Jalousie.

Boucan at Hotel Chocolat was another fantastic choice.  We had lunch there and I wished I’d discovered it a bit earlier in the trip as I would have definitely returned for dinner.  True to its name, most dishes include cacao in one form or another and here I had a tomato gazpacho with finely ground cacao nibs.  Insanely delish.  The micro green salad had a white chocolate dressing that had me licking the plate.  Ridic.

For a sunset dinner we headed to The Mango Tree at the neighboring Stonefield Resort.  The food was more simple and the real treasure here was the setting.  Drinks at a poolside bar with super cool chairs and large hanging paper lanterns, and then onto dinner on a small deck that hangs over the mountain with a striking view of the Pitons and ocean below.

We drove by a roadside restaurant called Martha’s Tables several times, prompting me to ask my driver (Super Dave, one of the nicest folks we met on the island) and he said it was great.  After a Google search and a glowing recommendation from a kind British family staying at the hotel, I was disappointed to have missed what would no doubt have been a real family island experience.  Martha’s Tables is basically an extension of her family kitchen at home where she cooks up local fish and vegetables while your kids run off to play with hers.  Next time.

DO

Take one of the tours at Hotel Chocolat.  We took the bean to tree tour which although fascinating, my three year old may have preferred the tree to bar experience, where you actually make chocolate.  Our guide was passionate and knowledgeable and now we each have a cacao tree growing there that we can visit on future trips to the island.

I loved how green and colorful the island is and a trip to Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens was both informative and beautiful.  I especially loved the Pink Torch Ginger.

Get on a boat.  Or a Hobie Cat, canoe, or sunset cruise.  It’s breathtaking to be in the warm Caribbean water looking at the majestic Pitons.

Needless to say with my very own Petite Piton clinging to my leg, I didn’t make it on the Gros Piton hike which no doubt is an island highlight.  Let me know how it is.

SPA

My daughter and I stumbled upon the spa at Jalousie as we took the ‘rainforest walk’ through the property.  With winding stairs and swinging bridges it was actually one of our favorite outings.  The spa is a tree house consisting of several treatment rooms all connected by wooden platforms through the rainforest.  We tiptoed into their outdoor ‘Quiet Room’ where cold water and tea awaited while a gentle stream ran beneath us and all you heard were the sounds of tree frogs and a small nearby waterfall.  Sublime.