That was a truly memorable visit, to Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort, on the west coast of St Lucia. Look at a basic map and it does not seem very far from the island’s capital, Castries. Look again, and the only road is a spiderlike calligraphy of zigzag bends, so it is much quicker to get there by helicopter or boat. The gal got off Seven Seas Explorer at exactly the moment it started raining, hard. Fortunately, Mark Sterner, GM of the luxury resort, was ready and waiting, with Captain Norman. They were in a two-seat fishing boat, apparently a Boeing, and with all three of us covered in blankets and towels, we ricocheted through the waves at lightning speed. An hour after leaving Castries, we arrived in the gorgeous sunny clime of Sugar Beach.
Look at it, from the water. This resort is in the especially lush area of Soufriere, and set at water level in Anse des Pitons bay between the two Pitons, both acclaimed as UNESCO World Heritage sites in 2006 (the Pitons are mountainous volcanic plugs, the taller reaching 2,530 feet up). Approach from the water and you see 96 plantation-style houses nestled against the sloping land plus, to the right of the whole complex, two flat-roofed, two-floor modern villas, each with four bedrooms and all mod-cons, and selling for at least $10,000 a night (though now, at highest-season full-house end-of-year, double that, and more). I could not see one of those, but the traditional villa which was briefly empty and ready to visit, was exquisite, all-white interior, superior kitchen, terrace with completely private plunge pool and a view down to the ocean.
The owner, Roger Myers, who gave up being accountant to The Beatles and owning the Café Rouge chain to move to this heavenly spot, is not surprisingly here right now. He and his multi-generational family are taking part in such events as last Sunday’s Full Moon beach party, with s’mores and more. On New Year’s Eve, there are bonfires, fireworks, live music (but not by the Beatles), and temporary tattoos for those who want them. Rum drinkers will imbibe from Chairman’s Reserve, bottled in artworks specially designed by St Lucia’s top artist, Llewellyn Xavier, whose works hang permanently in London’s Victoria & Albert, New York’s Metropolitan and Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario. There will, as always, be food by Jacques Chretien, from the Loire Valley. You can eat wherever you want, though breakfast is generally taken in the Great House, built by a plantation owner many years ago.
Over 74% of guests here are from Canada and the USA and average stay is six nights. Kids love the watersports and regular Pirate and Mermaid tea parties. Adults can well become addicted to the Rainforest Spa, a unique structure devised by Roger Meyers. You walk in through a yard-wide, twisting path with three-foot high stone walls saved from the days when this was a highly profitable sugar plantation (there are ageing bits of metal equipment strategically positioned around the 100-acre estate). As you walk, a canopy of branches and banyan and banana trees provides shade. You emerge to the dispatch point for the six ‘treatment rooms’, all high-high tree houses, masterpieces of woodwork using whatever trunks are to hand. Have your Natura Bissé treatment, relax, take a temascal heat experience, enjoy a 20-minute boardwalk jungle trail. Head down to the beach-set Bayside restaurant, for ceviche, say. In my case, it was sadly time to leave this luxury hotel, and Captain Norman rushed me back to Castries. Voyager continued on its Caribbean navigation a few minutes later. ENJOY THE BOAT TRIP – AND THE ARRIVAL