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Saint Lucia was not too long ago voted Finest Island within the Caribbean by World Traveller journal. 

So it was the spur to go to and see if it deserved such a lofty accolade. 

It’s a straightforward eight-hour flight from London and the descent to St Lucia’s Hewanoora airport affords a hen’s-eye view of probably the most spectacular volcanic peaks within the Caribbean – the mighty Pitons, a Unesco-designated World Heritage Website.

CHOCOLATE HEAVEN

Saint Lucia’s volcanic soil is wealthy in minerals and the native cacao business produces a few of the best chocolate on the planet. Once I first heard that there was a chocolate-themed lodge within the island’s rainforest, the ‘Rabot Lodge from Lodge Chocolat‘, I imagined we might discover an eccentric Willy Wonka kind and a theme park-like manufacturing facility of delights, full with a gently flowing chocolate river. 

Frank Mannion explores St Lucia, journeying into the island's rainforest to check in to the 'Rabot Hotel from Hotel Chocolat' (pictured)

Frank Mannion explores St Lucia, journeying into the island’s rainforest to examine in to the ‘Rabot Lodge from Lodge Chocolat’ (pictured) 

'With 29 stunning Lodges in a lush rainforest overlooking the Pitons, the Rabot is a heavenly oasis,' writes Frank

‘With 29 beautiful Lodges in a lush rainforest overlooking the Pitons, the Rabot is a heavenly oasis,’ writes Frank 

Genuinely, it was based by the charming British entrepreneur Angus Thirlwell, who freely admits that chocolate is an obsession. It is solely a 45-minute scenic drive from the airport. With 29 beautiful Lodges in a lush rainforest overlooking the Pitons, the Rabot is a heavenly oasis, whether or not you’re a chocolate lover or not. We really feel like golden ticket winners having the ability to spend a few nights right here. Our pleasant Luxe Lodge has an expansive veranda and an unlimited rainforest bathe.

The 50-foot infinity pool, lined with black quartz, overlooking the Petit Piton is the proper strategy to whereas away the day. The lodge’s restaurant has a chocolate-infused menu that appeared gimmicky at first, however within the palms of the proficient cooks, is impressed. Our morning sizzling chocolate and banana bread are the perfect we ever had. The truth is, each course is divine and imaginative, particularly the freshly caught wahoo fish, glazed with coconut and cacao butter sauce, and the Rabot Chocolate Lava dessert, impressed by the Soufriere volcano behind the lodge. 

Rabot Hotel has a chocolate-infused menu that 'seems gimmicky at first, but in the hands of the talented chefs, is inspired'

Rabot Lodge has a chocolate-infused menu that ‘appears gimmicky at first, however within the palms of the proficient cooks, is impressed’

If actor Timothee Chalamet is in search of inspiration to get into the mindset of an eccentric chocolatier for his upcoming Wonka film, the lodge cooks right here have all of the mouth-watering chocolate dishes to get him into character.

We stroll off lunch by taking a picturesque Jurassic Park-style ridge stroll by way of the plantation. A really magical expertise. The subsequent day we take the lodge’s Tree to Bar expertise, a strolling tour by way of the rainforest, culminating in an gratifying chocolate-making class on the high-tech cacao farm, Mission Chocolat (as soon as visited by a sweet-toothed King Charles III who formally broke the bottom a number of years in the past).

MUD BATHS

Sulphur, so good: Above is the world's only drive-in volcano, five minutes away from Rabot Hotel

Sulphur, so good: Above is the world’s solely drive-in volcano, 5 minutes away from Rabot Lodge

The Rabot Property is a five-minute drive from St Lucia’s most-visited vacationer attraction – what’s billed because the world’s solely drive-in volcano.

After a guided tour round its dramatically spewing sulphurous sizzling springs and boiling geysers, we stroll a few hundred yards right down to the mineral mud baths. 

There’s something life-affirming about spreading black volcanic mud all around the physique, letting it dry off after which soaking within the naturally heated sulphur mud springs. 

Now we have the baths to ourselves as we arrive very first thing within the morning to keep away from the cruise ship crowds. Resting within the mud springs makes you are feeling rejuvenated and able to discover the remainder of the island.

We’re subsequent dropped off on the spectacular Toraille Waterfall. 

Frank stands underneath Toraille Waterfall, pictured above, describing the experience as like a 'powerful hydro massage'

Frank stands beneath Toraille Waterfall, pictured above, describing the expertise as like a ‘highly effective hydro therapeutic massage’

Frank pays a visit to the 'Superman Falls', so-named because they feature in Superman 2, in a scene in which the caped superhero picks an exotic plant for Lois Lane

Frank pays a go to to the ‘Superman Falls’, so-named as a result of they function in Superman 2, in a scene through which the caped superhero picks an unique plant for Lois Lane

Being beneath it has the nice feeling of a strong hydro therapeutic massage. Though we already really feel like superheroes rising from the water after a restorative swim within the pure plunge pool, we head over to Superman Falls, a waterfall that is a bit more off the crushed observe and fewer crowded. 

In Superman 2, Christopher Reeve flies off to a tropical island (an uncredited Saint Lucia) and picks some unique vegetation to convey again to his sweetheart, Lois Lane. The establishing shot of Saint Lucia’s Pitons was filmed from a peak, 1,000 toes above sea stage, the place the ultra-luxurious Ladera Resort now stands.

LADERA RESORT

Each of the 37 luxurious suites at Ladera Resort has its own plunge pool and comes with a butler who is only too happy to whizz guests around on his golf buggy, Frank reveals

Every of the 37 luxurious suites at Ladera Resort has its personal plunge pool and comes with a butler who is barely too glad to whizz friends round on his golf buggy, Frank reveals

Ever since Oprah Winfrey stayed right here leaving a large tip within the Nineteen Nineties, it has been a celeb haven. 

Amy Winehouse beloved it right here, as did the late St Lucian Nobel Prize-winning poet Derek Walcott, who at all times celebrated his birthdays right here. 

Every of the 37 luxurious suites has its personal plunge pool and comes with a butler who is barely too glad to whizz friends round on his golf buggy. 

The absence of a fourth wall within the suites permits for a panoramic view of the Pitons and the glowing Caribbean Sea under. Even with out an outer wall, our spellbinding suite nonetheless feels sheltered sufficient and offers a chilled evening breeze. The romance is heightened by the swing within the plunge pool and the hand-crafted four-poster beds and hand-tiled mosaic walk-in showers.

Ladera is the proper vacation spot for lunch or dinner or only a sundown cocktail on the terrace the place Harrison Ford used to take pleasure in watching the solar set behind the Pitons. There’s something mesmerising about gazing at its peaks. 

We take the Ladera Ridge stroll and have some freshly lower coconut at a dramatic treehouse moulded round an enormous 300-year-old mango tree that also bears fruit.

Later, dinner at Dasheene is imaginatively overseen by the charming native chef Keith Mitchel, who creates sensational dishes such because the chilled asparagus gazpacho and the shellfish tagliatelle with selfmade creole sauce. 

This can be a really extraordinary romantic island paradise that feels genuine, the place all of the employees are native and genuinely wish to please friends. A pool-side yoga session with Anson is phenomenal. There’s a thrice-daily seaside shuttle for Ladera friends to Sugar Seashore, which is our subsequent vacation spot.

SUGAR BEACH

'Sugar Beach - A Viceroy Resort (pictured above) is a breathtaking utopia,' writes Frank

‘Sugar Seashore – A Viceroy Resort (pictured above) is a panoramic utopia,’ writes Frank

Sugar Seashore – A Viceroy Resort‘ is a panoramic utopia. Designed within the colonial Plantation type, it has 129 villas, cottages and luxurious beachfront bungalows, unfold discreetly in a 100-acre rainforest that was previously a sugar plantation. The resort has two beautiful white-sand seashores. The smaller and quieter one is known as Glenconner Seashore after the infamous Lord Glenconner, the buddy of Princess Margaret, who decamped from Mustique to spend his final days right here.

Saint Lucia is unique with its tropical rainforest, beautiful corals and cocoa plantations. Its English-speaking individuals are the friendliest and most welcoming within the Caribbean. There isn’t any aggressive hawking of products, everyone seems to be good-natured, and we really feel secure in each public house

With its personal pool and backyard and a wealthy cover of bushes to supply soothing breezes, our superb Luxurious Cottage is a tranquil and romantic place to remain. Whereas it’s potential to stroll right down to the eating areas and seaside, each suite comes with a super-efficient butler who ensures {that a} shuttle is ready simply in case. The resort has nice water actions, a brand-new health centre and a lush rainforest-style spa the place the therapy rooms are in treehouses constructed on stilts. The Sugar Seashore is equally appropriate for honeymooners and households, as Gwyneth Paltrow will attest, as she loved a household vacation right here a number of years in the past.

The fantastic eating restaurant Saltwood is great, whereas the beachfront Bonté restaurant is extra informal. Bonté means ‘good occasions’ in Creole and good occasions had been definitely loved right here by Matt Damon and his spouse after they renewed their vows on the seaside right here in entrance of friends Chris Hemsworth, Ben Affleck, and Stanley Tucci. He booked the complete resort for his family and friends and to maintain it beneath wraps, booked it beneath the identify of Mr and Mrs Naff. (Damon had made an exploratory journey two months beforehand, arriving by yacht.)

Past guests at Sugar Beach (above) include Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon and Chris Hemsworth

Previous friends at Sugar Seashore (above) embody Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon and Chris Hemsworth

The perfect breakfast on the island is the inexperienced fig and saltfish creole breakfast on the Terrace Restaurant on the bottom flooring of the elegant Nice Home, which is served with native cocoa tea, Johnny bakes and fried ripe plantain. Banana was and nonetheless is a vital a part of the St Lucian financial system and is called ‘inexperienced gold’.

SHINE BRIGHT LIKE A DIAMOND

Subsequent cease is the unmissable Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens, Waterfall and Sizzling Mineral Bathtub Springs on the outskirts of Soufriere city. A stroll by way of the plush six-acre Botanical Gardens is just breathtaking. It is a haven for gravity-defying hummingbirds as they peck at tropical flowers and vegetation. The therapeutic results of those fantastic mineral baths, initially in-built 1784, had been loved by Empress Josephine, spouse of Napoleon Bonaparte, who bathed right here as a baby when holidaying at her father’s close by plantation.

ANSE CHASTANET

Frank checks in to Anse Chastanet, pictured, which he declares 'one of the Caribbean's most singular and breathtaking hotels'

Frank checks in to Anse Chastanet, pictured, which he declares ‘one of many Caribbean’s most singular and breathtaking accommodations’ 

Jean-Pierre, our pleasant information from Soufriere (and father of 10 youngsters), takes us over a bumpy observe to an island oasis, Anse Chastanet, one of many Caribbean’s most breathtaking accommodations, completely located above a fascinating seaside.

It has 49 particular person bedrooms and divulges itself over a steep jungly hillside.

The architect and proprietor Nick Troubetzkoy purchased the 600 acres of land from sceptical native house owners within the early Nineteen Seventies and spent 10 years creating it.

Our stupendous Premium Hillside suite has a four-poster mattress and a terrace with a shocking panoramic view of the Pitons and of the twinkling lights of the bay under. Because the solar glistens by way of the louvred home windows, the setting is paying homage to Ian Fleming’s charming villa at Goldeneye in Jamaica.

Anse Chastanet 'has 49 individual bedrooms and reveals itself over a steep jungly hillside'

Anse Chastanet ‘has 49 particular person bedrooms and divulges itself over a steep jungly hillside’

The resort has a enjoyable sundown jazz cruise and the perfect dive centre on the island. We snorkel in Anse Chastanet’s protected marine reserve simply off its picturesque most important seaside and see vibrant corals and unbelievable marine life together with lobster, trumpetfish and a hawksbill turtle.

For these pining for Blighty, a day by day afternoon tea is served on the Piton Bar. 

Now we have an exquisite dinner at Anse’s fashionable Treehouse restaurant – the chef’s tarragon roasted mangrove purple snapper with grilled citrus, west Indian chow and shrimp salsa is excellent. 

Anse’s stylish Treehouse restaurant – the chef’s tarragon roasted mangrove red snapper with grilled citrus, west Indian chow and shrimp salsa is outstanding, says Frank

Anse’s fashionable Treehouse restaurant – the chef’s tarragon roasted mangrove purple snapper with grilled citrus, west Indian chow and shrimp salsa is excellent, says Frank

The Anse Chastanet setting 'is reminiscent of Ian Fleming's captivating villa at Goldeneye in Jamaica', writes Frank

The Anse Chastanet setting ‘is paying homage to Ian Fleming’s charming villa at Goldeneye in Jamaica’, writes Frank

Anse Chastanet has the best dive centre on the island, Frank reports

Anse Chastanet has the perfect dive centre on the island, Frank reviews

Delightful Anse Mamin beach, where the Jungle Grill 'serves lovely fish fillet burgers'

Pleasant Anse Mamin seaside, the place the Jungle Grill ‘serves pretty fish fillet burgers’

We spend the subsequent morning on the lodge’s smaller, however pleasant, Anse Mamin seaside the place the Jungle Grill serves pretty fish fillet burgers. One of many highlights of the journey is a sundown cruise on the attractive lodge sailboat, the Suzi Q. As we sail previous the Pitons, sudden guests within the type of a college of dolphins start to leap playfully within the surf on the bow of the boat – an everyday incidence in response to our cheerful native skipper, Kerwin.

Subsequent cease is Anse’s stupendous sister resort, Nick Troubetzkoy’s Jade Mountain – presumably the Caribbean’s best lodge. 

Eradicating the outer or fourth wall permits every of the spellbinding open plan 29 suites to have an eye-popping view of the Pitons, with its personal non-public infinity pool and sizzling tub.

Behold Jade Mountain - 'possibly the Caribbean's finest hotel'. It boasts eye-popping views

Behold Jade Mountain – ‘presumably the Caribbean’s best lodge’. It boasts eye-popping views

Each suite at Jade Mountain has a private infinity pool. Frank reveals that guests have been known to go five days without leaving their room

Every suite at Jade Mountain has a non-public infinity pool. Frank reveals that friends have been recognized to go 5 days with out leaving their room

After a restful sleep within the four-poster mattress, the uninterrupted view of the Pitons feels much more cinematic and extra mysterious as they turn out to be shrouded in cloud or disappear within the early morning mist and emerge glistening in a tropical solar bathe.

That is honeymooner heaven. 

A number of obliging and cheerful native major-domos will reply to the slightest whim. It’s no shock to be taught that friends have been recognized to go 5 days or extra with out leaving their ‘sanctuary’, because the suites are known as right here.

Jade Mountain is honeymooner heaven, with staff that respond to the slightest whim, Frank says

Jade Mountain is honeymooner heaven, with employees that reply to the slightest whim, Frank says

Jade Mountain’s elegant Membership restaurant, in the meantime, has panoramic views and an creative menu that adjustments on daily basis – the breakfast emerald chocolate crepe, the Caribbean lobster bouillabaisse, and the lemon and curried spiced Mahi Mahi will all stay lengthy within the reminiscence.

Above the restaurant is the Celestial Terrace, an important place for a sundowner and one of many island’s hottest venues for marriage proposals.

Charmaine’s deep-tissue therapeutic massage within the fantastic Kai En Ciel Spa is one other spotlight. Anse Chastanet and Jade Mountain present the best lodge experiences in Saint Lucia, if not the entire Caribbean. They’re resorts that maintain themselves to the very best normal of impeccable however pleasant service with a flawless consideration to element which might be nearly unmatched within the area. It is exhausting to depart this paradise behind.

WHY SAINT LUCIA IS THE BEST ISLAND IN THE CARIBBEAN 

Saint Lucia is unique with its tropical rainforest, beautiful corals and cocoa plantations. Its English-speaking individuals are the friendliest and most welcoming within the Caribbean. There isn’t any aggressive hawking of products, everyone seems to be good-natured, and we really feel secure in each public house. Derek Walcott wrote that Saint Lucia’s ‘mountains tinkle with springs amongst moss-bearded forests… and a volcano… has made it a therapeutic place’. Saint Lucia is certainly a therapeutic place for the soul and after per week on the island, I can affirm that the journey accolades are deserved – Saint Lucia is certainly the perfect island within the Caribbean.

ST LUCIA JAZZ AND ARTS FESTIVAL

Sting and Shaggy are headlining the 2023 Saint Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival

Sting and Shaggy are headlining the 2023 Saint Lucia Jazz and Arts Competition

The rapper Shaggy as soon as described Sting because the brother that he did not know he wanted. Such concord can be on show on the Saint Lucia Jazz and Arts Competition when Sting and Shaggy will headline the closing evening on Could 14. 

They observe earlier headliners Rihanna, Wyclef Jean and Amy Winehouse, and all of the accommodations we keep in are making ready themed occasions across the pageant, corresponding to Jazz Au Chocolat on the Rabot.

Frank Mannion is an award-winning director and his newest movie, Quintessentially Irish, can be in cinemas on the finish of the yr.



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