For centuries, the British and French squabbled and waged diplomatic war to secure the mighty resourceful island of St Lucia. Sugar was its most precious commodity. The plantation is now a Unesco world heritage site, 100 acres of lush rainforest spread as far as the eye can see.
During the colonial period the plantations grew dramatically in size, more sugar, more money. Jealousy raged between the two nations. Finally, in 1979, that divorce was granted, St Lucia regained full independence. It was now legally an adult and began to develop the old plantations into tourist havens that continued to evoke jealousy not just from its spurned parents but the rest of the world. Who wouldn’t want a piece of this incredible island?
Jalousie plantation, or jealousy in English, very apt, is now cared for by an Englishman, Roger Myers, who takes enormous pride in marrying it with local tradition and revolutionising it to be one of the world’s best resorts, more about Roger later.
After all these centuries, it is still tricky to get to, albeit delightful to experience. The road from Hewannorra International airport is better now, that’s not difficult, there wasn’t one before, you had to arrive by boat. The journey is through some of the most ‘bucket list’ inspiring views and villages you can imagine.
When you do arrive into the valley, the enormity of Les Pitons, Gros and Petit, two volcanic rocks that jut from sea to sky, loom down on you, reminiscent of rather protective body guards at a teenage disco. The beauty does leave you a little intoxicated. Before long, that will be literal… you are welcomed with the local coconut rum punch. Best to let the concierge take his time over check in. Savour the punch and take in the views.
A portrait of Queen Elizabeth II hangs centre place in the colonial reception. Spinning fans and white wooden panelling signal a change of pace. These panels must hold untold secrets – the glitterati have always spent time in Sugar Beach.
Gwyneth & Co.
Gwyneth Paltrow has visited for new year. Matt Damon has renewed his wedding vows, Mick Jagger, of course, has retired to bed early with a book here. Royalty and rock stars flock like pandas grappling for that last morsel of sugar cane and never a word has crossed the sealed lips of the highly professional staff. Now that’s discretion.
Princess Margaret basked here often in the 70’s. The wide angled lens of somewhat intrusive paparazzi cameras never failed to capture a moment of her playing in the sea or relaxing by the pool. She often retreated to the Caribbean, one of her favourite destinations for relaxation and repose. She had a penchant for beautiful places, fun and frolics were intertwined, good food, wine and company were a paramount necessity.
Not a bit of wonder she often came to Sugar Beach, with Colin Tennant or Lord Glenconner as he was titled, to whom all of this once belonged. He was the man who conjured Mustique, after befriending Princess Margaret and kept a pet elephant called Bupa. Now it belongs to Roger, Sugar Beach, not the elephant, the British restaurateur who created Café Rouge.
As you leave the marble floored reception, ready to be escorted to your villa, glance up into the canopies of the trees to catch glimpses of the roof tops, sprinkled in amongst the green, lanterns leading the way. The walk to the villas can be quite arduous, up a long steep pathway, thankfully an old diesel engine tuk tuk picks is your chariot.
You will find these brightly coloured tuk tuks chortling along the pathways all throughout the day, there are various stops to hail one, thankfully there is never a stampede. The colonial style villas mesh with nature perfectly. Your butler, will show you to your villa, he will also be contactable at any time of the day through the cell phone that he gives you as he leaves, now that’s service.
According to the Oxford English dictionary, Jalousie also means a blind or shutter made of a row of angled slats. Yet again no coincidence, each room has exactly that, colonial white angle slats that keep the rooms cool while transporting you to another era. There is a gift awaiting your arrival, local St Lucian Charmaine rum, as if you need more, plantain and fresh chipotle spicy dip. Each villa has a living area leading into the bedroom.
A four-poster bed, with a TV arising from the cabinet at the foot of it. High pointed ceilings with whirling white fans, a Victorian bath and a rainbow shower. It feels very back to nature, yet you do pinch yourself to remind yourself that this is real. Chandeliers light your way, a coconut is waiting to be opened, take a refreshing sip and retire to the veranda, passing by the plunge pool, to rest and take in the views of the beach and the mystical Pitons.
Mod cons are installed for your convenience. A female Buddha with large bosoms waits to charge the iPad. The iPad welcomes you, orders food, views the restaurants and activities or sees what the entertainment is for the day. You have to do very little. On the odd occasion rain delays play, relax in the room with a movie and order a midnight snack of molten chocolate cake and cookies, it’s worth lying in crumbs all night for. The ‘my butler’ app allows you to order pepto bismol too, just in case the night is ruined by more than crumbs.
There are rafts of activities to keep you and the children entertained. Tours can be organized, fitness programmes, yoga, snuba diving, first I’d heard of it too, which is a port manteaux of snorkeling and scuba diving. There is a babysitter service, if it all gets too much and you want to escape to the spa.
The rainforest spa, is in the rainforest, again it is what it says on the tin. It has a walk way that leads on a trail through the forest, I don’t recommend taking the walk at night. There are 7 tree house treatment gazebos, there is a signature Sulphur seduction, minus the smell of eggs, which harnesses the body scrubs made from mud of the local Sulphur Springs and volcano. Therapeutic and anti-aging.
The Great Room
There are a plethora of restaurants and bars to choose from. As you meander down to the restaurants, you will find art work and sculptures dotted all around, sculptures of plantation workers sitting legs dangling off a porch, it keeps the authenticity of where you are.
The Great Room serves Mediterranean and Caribbean fare, the bayside set by the beach offers fresh pizzas and the grill of the day. The Palm Court has more English traditional afternoon tea while the Cane bar is for just that, getting caned.
The chefs will personalize meals for you, should you have a special occasion or just feel like treating yourself. The Kabe prive (private cabana) is a perfect spot.
Gorge on kingfish ceviche, chargrilled steak, red snapper or duck breast. The room service ticks every box, with spiced pumpkin soup, Caesar salad, BLTs, curried chicken roti, cheeseburgers and an epic, not-to-be-missed mango crème brûlée
Hummingbirds flit around, their delicate sound carries through the forest, though you don’t get to see many of them. Ghosts of the past still linger here and I for one don’t blame them. A little reminder to me was a slightly opened sugar cane sachet poured in a circle on the hard wood floor of my room. It could’ve been birds, at a stretch, but I like to think of it as a past citizen, welcoming me in the appropriate sugar way to Sugar beach, now that you don’t get at other five stars.
Further information: Viceroy Hotels and Resorts
Rates for 2017 start from 435 $ per night at a luxury Sugar Mill room in low season, to 6,025 $ per night for a four-bedroom Beach Residence.