With average temperatures ranging between in the 80s and 90s, St. Lucia has long been a destination for sun seekers. But those who come for the sun and sand find that there is much more to this beautiful West Indies island. For those who tire of lounging at soft sandy beaches, gazing at the Pitons, two photogenic mountains, and dipping occasionally into the Caribbean Sea, it is well worth it to explore the island more thoroughly.
Chocolate Infused Cuisine:
Cocoa is the 2nd largest crop in St. Lucia (bananas being #1), and with the establishment of Chocolate Heritage Month in November, St. Lucia is becoming known for producing extremely high quality chocolate. The Hotel Chocolat exemplifies the infiltration of chocolate, opening Boucan in March, 2011, as an extension of the extremely successful Hotel Chocolat UK brand, which began as an online chocolate service and which has grown to 66 stores in the UK alone. The hotel offers a “Tree to Bar” tour which has participants harvesting a bean, going through the fermenting, drying, and roasting process. Turning the chocolate nibs into paste and then liquid chocolate takes it full circle. The chocolate nibs from the cocoa pods are used in most of the menu offerings at their restaurant Boucan, including a chocolate grinder settled next to the salt and pepper.
Their spa, like many others, includes several chocolate treatments. The Treetop Spa at the Sugar Beach resort offers a chocolate mint massage treatment in one of their seven treetop treatment rooms, which should be followed by a decadent chocolate dessert in their beachside gourmet restaurant, Bayside.
Outdoor Adventure Activities:
St. Lucia’s lush landscapes are beautifully maintained in their very natural forms, allowing for some unique hiking opportunities up the Gros Piton (ironically the Petit Piton is not often climbed, due to its steepness). Most hotels offer guided tours to the top.
The Caribbean Sea is a warm and crystal clear body of water, and most resorts offer sailing, windsurfing, kayaking and other water sports. For the more adventurous, take advantage of being in an actual rainforest and visit Rainforest Adventures for ziplining through an actual rainforest. Start at 1,400 feet and zip down to 600, through 3,442 acres of wildlife and foliage. Mongoose, boa constrictors, wild pigs and more are under your feet. Or, take a four hour guided hike through the jungle-like setting with a trained guide. The tram ride provides a more stable ride to the top of the climb, and back down again.
Tourism accounts for a minimum of 40% of the population in St. Lucia, and is their #1 business. The cab drivers are well versed in the history and facts of the island, and the tour guides are knowledgeable and friendly. Visits to several high end resorts on the island revealed that their staff to customer ratio is high: former Jalouise Plantation, and now Sugar Beach resort has 78 rooms/villas, with just under 500 on staff, including 100 grounds people. The stunning cliffside Jade Mountain can handle approximately 60 guests (rumored to have included Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez), with staff which includes a personal butler assigned to each room, and Hotel Chocolat with eight villas and six lodges, has 150 staff serving. At Sugar Beach, one need merely wave the red drink flag to have service appear in seconds by the pool. At Cap Maison resort, the “Champagne Zipline” has proven to be an instant hit with dockside clientele being sent their afternoon drinks via this unique contraption.
Service and fine cuisine come together at Cap Maison, which offers the services of chefs to teach or prepare food in villas for guests, and can also send a chef with hotel customers to the infamous St. Lucia food market, to learn about and select fresh food to prepare.
This article first appeared in Huffington Post and can be found at this link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kathy-buckworth/st-lucia-is-3-kinds-of-ho_b_2358276.html