Destination Guide

St. Lucia

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Courtesy Sugar Beach

St. Lucia’s mix of a colonial past with influences from African, Indian and Creole cultures has yielded a tapestry that is as lush and varied as its fabled rainforest. With pampering luxury resorts and a dramatic, mountainous landscape—plus, world-class diving and a rich arts culture, St. Lucia is accessible but feels far-flung.


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a pool and thatched roof building on the beach with a pointed green mountain behind it

Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort

Sugar Beach burst onto the luxury travel scene thanks to a three-year, $100 million makeover (completed in late 2012). The physical transformation included a gut renovation of its 59 luxurious villa accommodations, new entry-level Sugar Mill rooms, and a new destination spa called Rainforest.

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Jade Mountain

The first thing to know about Jade Mountain, the luxury-suite complex at Anse Chastanet, is that in order to get to the resort you have to maneuver what must be the island’s most abysmal road: think of a New York City pothole spread across two miles, then add some hairpin turns and steep inclines. (The property has purposefully decided to keep the road rough to keep the resort exclusive.) The second is that it is absolutely worth the trip.

Conceived by visionary architect Nick Troubetzkoy, Jade Mountain is literally built into the mountain hovering above Anse Chastanet, and its 360-degree views of the sea, the Pitons and the surrounding rain forest are simply stunning. The five-story building recalls the twisted lair of a James Bond villain or an enormous spaceship, depending on whether you arrive during the day or at night, when strings of tiny lights illuminate the massive structure. There’s an intricate network of stone staircases and bridges leading to the twenty-four extravagant suites (called “sanctuaries”), which range in size from 1,400 square feet to more than 3,500 square feet.

A lot was written about the resort when it opened in 2006, particularly its bold interior: the open design scheme where bedrooms and elevated bathrooms flow into one another and onto spacious terraces; the missing fourth wall that allows island views in every corner, making the rooms seem even bigger; the large infinity pools that dominate most suites and from whose waters guests gaze toward the Pitons. What I came to love most about Jade Mountain, though, were the finer points that show Troubetzkoy’s attention to detail: no two rooms are alike in layout or decor (surely a logistical nightmare during the three-year construction), and more than twenty types of tropical hardwoods, including sand-colored locust and smooth bloodwood, were used in the floors and furniture, all of it made locally. The iridescent tiles in the private infinity pools are handmade, each pool shimmering in slightly different hues, from deep red to bright emerald. And the bathrooms are luxurious, with rain showers that can be adjusted for height and huge chromatherapy whirlpool tubs, their edges lined with votive candles.

The Jade Mountain suites are both beautiful and unique. That said, these accommodations are not for everyone. Here are some things to consider: the openness of the space brings the sounds of the tropics inside, and sleep is accompanied by a chorus of cicadas and tree frogs at night and birds in the early-morning hours. In most of the suites, the open-bathroom design includes the toilet, and if that might take the romance out of your vacation, be sure to request one with a separate toilet area. There are no televisions but guests are given cell phones upon check in and Wi-Fi is available throughout the estate.

Be aware that the climb to and from the beach—about a hundred steps—is even longer from here than from Anse Chastanet. (There is, however, an on-demand shuttle that offers lifts from rooms to the beach.) There’s a restaurant and a spectacular rooftop lounge on the premises at Jade Mountain, but you can also order in. Room service arrives quickly, a true accomplishment by the gracious staff, since you place your order by hanging a blue bag in front of the massive wooden door of your sanctuary.

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