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Anse Chastanet

Russian-Canadian architect Nick Troubetzkoy first came to St. Lucia in the 1970s and bought a dilapidated 14-room property on the island’s southwest shore. Thus began a building project that ultimately took more than two decades to complete, culminating not only in Anse Chastanet but in Troubetzkoy’s pièce de résistance: the 29-suite Jade Mountain, which opened in 2006.

Situated on 600 acres of tropical hillside that roll down two beaches, one with gold sand, the other with black, Anse Chastanet helped pioneer the all-natural Robinson Crusoe look, which has since been widely copied by other resorts. The forty-nine guest rooms are built into the landscape so seamlessly that the only time you see the entire property is when you approach it from the water. There are no televisions or phones in the guest rooms, and air-conditioning is only offered in the beach-side suites, though most rooms don’t need it, as the “missing” fourth wall opens onto either a terrace or a patio (the lack of fly screens may deter some visitors, however). Furnishings are made of indigenous woods like teak, mahogany and greenheart, and the decor is enlivened by vibrant, locally sourced madras fabrics—the same colorful designs in St. Lucia’s national costumes—and paintings by regional and visiting artists. At once highly individual and site-specific, it’s the kind of design conceit that deliberately skips details like flat-screen televisions and iPod docks in favor of a more rustic island vibe. It’s important to note that Anse Chastanet is built into a steep hillside, and the trek to the beach, a flight of some one hundred stairs, is demanding unless you’re in relatively good shape. (The hotel does offer a shuttle service.)

The two-bedroom Casuarina Suite boasts its own infinity pool with views of both the Caribbean Sea and the Piton Mountains, while the one-bedroom villa is located beach-side. With the exception of the one at the Casuarina Suite, there’s no pool at Anse Chastanet. The property is situated in a remote location at the end of a road that the resort has purposefully kept rough to ensure exclusivity. But most guests are happy to stay put, taking advantage of the lovely stretch of sand, sprinkled with comfortable loungers under palm-thatched umbrellas. Diving enthusiasts will be happy about the proximity of Scuba St. Lucia, the island’s premier dive operator that is headquartered here, while active types should head to Bike St. Lucia, on adjacent Anse Mamet Beach.

There are four restaurants on the premises, including the excellent Apsara, and a spa whose therapists are very good (arrange for a treatment in your room, as space at the spa is limited)Yoga and meditation is included in the price along with access to complimentary snorkeling equipment and sunset cruises.

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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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Outside Lounge at Ladera, St. Lucia, Caribbean

Ladera

This eco-lodge–style resort in the Soufrière hills overlooking the Pitons has been a romantic island favorite since it opened in 1982. There are thirty-two suites, done in local woods and smooth stone, and all are three-walled, with the “missing” fourth wall opening onto superb views (Ladera is positioned right between the Pitons), and featuring private plunge pools. I did hear from one island resident that noisy neighbors in the room next door could be a challenge here, so it’s probably best to book one of the more private Dream Suites or the 2,400-square-foot, two-bedroom villa suite with a private pool.

Because Ladera is on a somewhat level part of a hill, at 1,100 feet above sea level, it’s easier to get around the lush property than on the steep slopes of Anse Chastanet and Jade Mountain. Aside from the private plunge pools, there’s a small infinity pool, a spa and a fitness center on the premises, plus a daily shuttle service to two beaches, which are a twenty-minute drive away. The biggest draw, however, is Dasheene restaurant, which occupies two levels of an airy structure that seems to hang off the mountain and that offers brilliant close-up views of the Pitons. Even if you’re not staying at the hotel, come for drinks and dinner—and try to arrive well before sunset to claim comfortable armchairs on the terrace, all arranged to face the glowing nightly spectacle.

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Pool at Capella Marigot Bay, St. Lucia, Caribbean

Marigot Bay Resort & Marina

Marigot Bay Resort is a good choice for travelers who want to be very comfortable and wish to explore life outside the property.

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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