St Lucia is a long way to go for a holiday, so hotels are pulling out all the shots to make it worth your while. And once you have decided on a far-flung, tropical vacation, the sun, sea, food and atmosphere of this small, friendly island will be instantly addictive.
Nestled in the east of the Caribbean, this West Indian island is only 27 miles long and 14 miles wide, with a combination of high mountains, lush rainforests, beautiful bays and palm fringed beaches- with one major road connecting the north and south, making it small and perfectly formed, with great nightlife to boot!
The latest addition to the island is the adults-only Serenity Resort at Coconut Bay, which lives up to its name for guests looking for a laid back vacation, where nothing is too much trouble for the staff.
The Caribbean does luxury hotels extremely well, and the Serenity resort has an added bonus of being just five minutes from the airport, so guests don’t have long to wait before enjoying an authentic Caribbean experience. Offering an all-inclusive package, smiley staff and personal butler service- every aspect of a client’s well being is catered for. Along with a private sandy beach just moments away from the well-proportioned bungalows, it is no wonder that the tranquil location is also a conservation site for endangered sea turtles who nest there between March and November and always lay eggs in the same place that they were born. The hotel encourages education on the wellbeing of the turtles, and curated visits can be arranged during season.
Committed to preserving nature, the hotel is designed to maintain the privacy of guests and makes full use of the verdant landscape. Designed with traditional charm, the vibe is relaxed yet respectful, and the hotel feels a lot bigger than it is, as guests can saunter around the gardens or pool, without feeling cramped.
The main building of the hotel is The Greathouse Restaurant, which is based on the traditional colonial style houses, with a grand veranda, impressive ceiling fans and lots of dark wood. Whereas the bungalows have a more minimal, unfussy vibe. Fresh white walls and dark wooden floors, all have a large tub, rainfall shower, coffee machine, filled fridge, sound system and huge mahogany bed.
Should you want to leave your private terrace, there are cabanas and loungers by the pool, along with a bar serving snacks and drinks all day. A short walk will take you to the hotel’s beach. With uninterrupted views, it is popular for paddleboarding and kayaking in the Summer, and is a hidden gem for kitesurfing in the winter months, when the season kicks off with lessons for all levels in November.
Further afield, there are miles of unspoiled rainforest, natural waterfalls and the talismanic Piton Mountains which make up St Lucia’s stunning vista and are a must-see. Take a boat trip to Soufriere, St Lucia’s second-largest town and oldest settlement and soak up the typically West Indian vibe of brightly painted homes.
The town is named after the smell of sulfur emissions from the now-dormant volcanic plug, which is the world’s only drive-in volcano. While you are there, it is also worth visiting the natural waterfalls, hot springs and mud bath, to cleanse and rejuvenate. It is also reputed to skim 12 years off your appearance if you believe local legend!
The west side of Saint Lucia is home to Anse Chastanet Beach, which is one of the top snorkeling beaches in the area, and there are plenty of boat trips you can join or charter, and dive deep into the sea for the technicolour experience of the kaleidoscopic marine life.
St Lucian food
St Lucian food and nightlife is undeniably popular, and guests from the Serenity can join activities at the neighbouring Coconut Bay Resort. With several dining options, your all-inclusive package gives you access all areas, although you will have plenty of chilled out ambience, should you want to stay put.
With entertainment ranging from fire eaters to stilt walkers to full moon parties on the beach to rum tasting sessions, there is always a party vibe at Coconut Bay. The weekly St Lucian buffet is a must, for a gigantic range of local delicacies served barbeque style by one of the hotel’s pool. This includes a variety of specials such as conch, lobster, fried and grilled fish, fish cakes and chicken- all cooked on the spot, and the Chef’s secret jerk sauce is a mouthwatering addition if you like it spicy!
There are several other dining options available on the site, and range from casual dining at the poolside Jerk Treehouse, which offers an interesting combination of local dishes including bbq jerk pork or chicken and fresh, hearty sides in an elevated setting. Whereas Coconut Walk is a favourite with those who like to mix it up! Offering options for breakfast, lunch and dinner, most stations have a chef on hand to create smoothies, crépes and made-to-order omelettes. For Lunch, guests have the option of grilled paninis, an extensive salad bar, tacos, pizza or nachos; Whereas at dinner time, you can choose from a range of pasta, salads and stir-fries.
However, if romance is on the agenda and you need something a bit more intimate, ask your butler to book you into La Luna. Offering private a la carte dining in a cabana overlooking the beach, there has been many a proposal to the tune of the waves caressing the shore. Offering a combination of natural beauty, it’s no wonder that St Lucia has a reputation for surprise engagements and destination weddings.
Serenity Bay has honed romance to a T. Offering a package for honeymooners, it is also the perfect location for a destination wedding. Offering a customisable service which provides a dedicated wedding consultant and two stunning beachside locations for a fairytale wedding. In fact, on my visit, I met a couple who had enjoyed an intimate ceremony on the beach the previous day.
The Serenity Spa is an essential stop for brides and grooms (a professional hair and makeup artist is on site). And therapists can be booked for room massages and treatments if you don’t want to head to the beachside location. The spa’s stunning treatment rooms are located right on the beach so guests can unwind to the sounds of the sea. Making use of local, nourishing ingredients and botanicals, I tried the true St Lucia experience with the signature cocoa treatment, and enjoyed the cleansing, exfoliating and detoxifying result.
Serenity at Coconut Bay truly is a destination with two sides, as is the island itself- a calm and sophisticated adults-only resort is a tropical paradise where you can chill out, but should you wish to let your hair down, all the activities- including the lazy river, bars, restaurants and beach bars in the more buzzy Coconut Bay are a short hop away.
For more information and booking, check the website www.serenityatcoconutbay.com/