St. Lucia - Budget vs Blowout
Seeing St. Lucia on a budget - and what life's like on the VIP side...
St. Lucia is pretty much the most honeymoon-y place on the planet. You would’ve seen it’s iconic piton mountains on any number of envy-inducing tube billboards or anytime you may have absent-mindedly Googled ‘most beautiful place on earth take me there now pls’.
But what if you’re NOT on honeymoon? Or you are, but you happened to spend your entire life savings on a 22ft chocolate fountain and 72 white doves, and now your budget’s squeezed a little tight.
Join us as we steer you through the cheapest and most ridonkulously ways to see one of the Caribbean’s most stunning islands.
Where To Stay: Jade Mountain
Put simply, one of the most stunning, luxurious, audacious and jaw-dropping hotels in the world.
Designed by architect, owner and visionary Nick Troubetzkoy, Jade Mountain is quite literally carved into the side of a mountain, boasting 29 sanctuaries (yep, even the room’s have an impressive name) with unparalleled panoramic views of the pitons and the Caribbean sea.
Even more brain-boggling, 24 of the suites boast their own completely private and completely awesome infinity pool. Guests are also introduced to a Major Domo - a personal assistant (all graduates of the Guild of Professional English Butlers) that you can call at any time with your own private phone to get you pretty much whatever you want.
Should you choose to actually leave your sanctuary (although, from experience, we really have no idea why you’d need to), you can unwind in the spa, eat at the Jade Mountain Club (we were sat next to an actual bonafide movie star) or dine privately on the Celestial Terrace (so called because you can see million of stars and YOU’LL LITERALLY FEEL LIKE YOU’RE IN HEAVEN).
If you weren’t on your honeymoon before you checked in, there’s a hefty chance you will be by the time you leave.
COST: Nightly rates at Jade Mountain start from $1,080 / £814 per sanctuary based on double occupancy. Rates are subject to 10% service charge and 10% VAT. To book visit www.jademountain.com.
What To Do: Anything At Jade Mountain
Predictably, Jade Mountain also offers an array of amazing activities as part of your stay. Yoga on the Celestial Terrace is spectacular, tours to Malgretoute Waterfall and the world’s only drive-in volcano are awe-inspiring, there are champagne sunset cruises out to the pitons, whale watching tours, scuba diving, kayaking and snorkelling opportunities, and even a Chocolate Lab experience that takes you from the resort’s private organic farm to the packaging of their personal chocolate range.
Meanwhile a stroll down to sister resort Anse Chastanet, which banks onto a private beach and 600 tropical acres of stunning scenery, throws up an array of other adventures, including the wild playground of a historic on-site plantation (with fascinating guide Meno, bike trails and and hikes galore), a bar with the best cocktails this side of Mahiki, and two other restaurants.
COST: Activity costs are varied, though half of the above come FOC as part of your stay. Nightly rates at Anse Chastanet start from $375 / £283* per room based on double occupancy. Rates are subject to 10% service charge and 10% VAT. www.ansechastanet.com
Where To Stay: Capella Marigot Bay
The perfect option for those wanting to treat themselves, offering ample sized apartment-rooms, the muscle-unwinding Auriga spa, a chocolate lovers-specific itinerary/trip (the cuisine is pretty incredible, while the private treetop dining area is the epitome of special), a Rum Cave (chocolate + rum = gastro/boozy-heaven), two freshwater infinity pools, and an entire Marina Village a short wander from the port (with boutique shops as standard).
COST: Capella offer an all-inclusive package - "Ultimate Escape to the Bay", which allows guests to experience complete indulgence from $715 (£537) per room per night. It includes all meals and drinks (inc. alcohol and pool-side sushi), access to Capella's Personal Assistants, complimentary wi-fi and more.
What To Do: Ziplining + Rum Tasting
Alas, not at the same time. But Capella’s ‘Zipline Into Plantation Lunch & Rum Tasting’ experience offers the best of St. Lucia in one day.
The morning’s spent zip lining and trekking, lunch is NOMmed at a 140-year-old plantation, and then the afternoon is spent sampling the island’s finest rum.
COST: $190 (£142) per adult.
Where To Stay: Coco Palm
Winner of many a TripAdvisor award, and for good reason - Coco Palm offers a ‘treat yoself’ experience at a fraction of the VIP cost. Clean rooms, a soothing communal pool and tasty food mean it’s winning on pretty much all the important areas.
COST: From £82 a night.
What To Do: Mud Bath In The Sulphur Springs
Take in one of the island’s most affordable and enjoyable of USPs - a spa treatment, au naturel.
COST: Contact the hotel.
Where To Stay: Casa del Vega Hostel
Cheap, cheerful and most of important of all, rife with air conditioning, Casa Del Vega is homeliness incarnate. There are few hostels on the island, and Airbnb can be a tad tricky due to the island’s hilly geography and lack of parking, but Casa del Vega offers budget accommodation with a rare quality.
COST: From $29.89 per night for a six bed dorm, or £51 a night for a private room.
What To Do: Lighthouses and Beaches
Hiking up the pitons requires a guide (who, understandably, expects to get paid) so if you’re REALLY broke, head to the Vigil Lighthouse and Vieux Fort Lighthouse, which are both free to visit and offer amazing views of Castries labour. You’ll need to make your own way there (some require water taxis) but the best beaches for snorkelling are Anse Cochon, Anse Chastanet (yep, that one from up top) and Soufriere Beach.