A Room With (one hell of a) View
“One look at the view from our very private veranda, complete with matrimonial sized hammock and
plunge pool for two and there was no doubting that she had chosen perfectly”
The road to Soufriere is a winding one, not for the weak of stomach but then getting to paradise shouldn't be too easy. In fact, Jet Blue's nonstop flights combined with Hewonarra International Airport's easy entry make St. Lucia a simple getaway. (Wealthier and/or overly nauseous can opt for the helicopter shuttle instead)
I'm told that other parts of the island have more choice as far as lodging, food and nightlife but if the reclusive rock star romantic rendezvous (5 times fast) is what you're looking, look no further than Soufrierre.
With its two massive volcano-like mountains, Gros Piton and Petite Piton, clear blue, jade and even purple water, natural black sand beaches, waterfalls and stunning sunsets, this part of the island has all you need.
I should mention that this is not the budget travelers’ destination. A cheap room here is more expensive than a week in morocco but we are playing rock star, remember. That said you could easily spend a fortune and end up with no privacy, no view and little charm. Luckily for you, we did the research.
Stonefield estate villas is one of the few St. Lucian owned resorts on the island which immediately humanizes it and insures that you will not feel like you are staying in a New York City hotel dropped into the Caribbean. The shady driveway is scattered with mango s freshly fallen and bordered by magnificent orange and purple flowers. Upon arrival we were greeted by Suzanne with an ice cold glass of goose berry juice,a warm smile and broad accent that immediately reset us to island time.
" Oh yes, you are in Jacaranda" she said cheerfully, " it is my favorite villa." At which point I could sense an immense weight lift off of my wife. I should tell you that in our extensive history of traveling together I have always been the one to agonize over the room, house, hotel that we would stay in. This was for a few reasons. One, I love it. Not the stress of failing the family with a duff decision but the search. Two, I've had the time. While my wife had been slaving away to pay for the holiday the least I could do was find the appropriate place to spend her hard earned money. And finally because I can't stand the idea of diminishing our much anticipated vacation with the wrong destination and abode.
But this trip was all my wife. A surprise for my 40th birthday. One look at the view from our very private veranda, complete with matrimonial sized hammock and plunge pool for two and there was no doubting that she had chosen perfectly. Directly in front an unobstructed view of the petite piton and the endless ocean. The villa had a kitchen, living room, four poster bed (with mosquito net) and bathroom but really just the outdoor shower would do. All your time at the villa is spent on the veranda. Watching a rain cloud pass, hummingbirds feed, the endless changes in the setting sun sky. We even had a rainbow so close, so perfect, that it seemed like it must have been Vegas generated. The resort offers a free shuttle to the Jalousie resort where another free shuttle shuttles you to the lovely bay beach situated between the pitons and dusted in imported white sand. The swimming is delicious here and remarkably quiet for the lack of nearby competition.
Still, a beach of our own was out there so the next day we hired a water taxi to take us around the piton and drop us at a private strip of black volcanic sand adjacent to a lovely coral reef. We spent the day playing castaways, snokelling the "coral gardens" and sun bathing naked, only covering up when the occasional boat passed. With no watch we had to rely on the boat driver to remember to pick us up and just as we were feeling like some shade and a cocktail, he reappeared with a knowing smile, two more happy customers. The resort recommends little in the town of Soufriere and we were unable to determine if this was simply because they wanted us to spend our money with them or if they worried for our safety or if they really didn't know anywhere to suggest. The walk along the road into town offered great views, the trees heavy with mangoes, minivan buses teeming with local passengers whooping out the windows, narrowly missing us. Main street was no duller. People of all ages sitting on porches, chairs, the street. Old shingled houses added to the wild west look and feel. We found a liquor store and a mini super market but seemed to be a little early for street food. We were underwhelmed by the extremely expensive tourist restaurant we were recommended by the hotel but a little intimidated by the place we probably should have eaten. All in all, town was an exhilarating experience but a nut uncracked.
Food in general, and the resort food model, was a disappointment. Because most guests opt for all inclusive plans the restaurants change the menu nightly (within the week). This is probably a good thing if you stay for a week. For our long weekend it meant Thai night. Not exactly the creole flavor we were looking for and at twice the price of the best thai in NYC. All in all the fresh bread and juices were the most memorable. But back to the rock star part. For a mere 10 bucks the restaurant will serve you on your own veranda, dramatically improving the dining experience and reminding you that it's not what you eat but where you eat it.