A Personal Account of St Lucia by Phil Hart:
When I asked for a recommendation for a special hotel in St Lucia I had no idea what to expect. I was advised that if I wanted something unique and quiet with very good service (my stipulations) then Anse Chastenet was “right up your street Phil”.
Trusting the person who made this recommendation I went ahead and booked for May 2014. I thought little more about this until much closer to the departure day.
When I looked closer into this trip I did a bit of research into the hotel. To be honest I was somewhat concerned as there is no air conditioning, no TV or wireless and it looked particularly remote. I delved deeper and looked at some of the images. What a stunning surprise, it looked a real gem and the initial ‘downsides’ just washed away.
We arrived after a very entertaining transfer. Beautiful scenery and real feeling of exclusivity as we bumped along the mountain roads, in and out of small fishing villages and past numerous plantations. We were taken to the rather rustic, open and extremely colourful reception area and were greeted by happy smiling staff in full tradition working dress. We were taken to our room. What a fantastic surprise. A beautiful architect designed room built entirely from local woods and other materials. A stunning balcony view with enough space on the balcony for a dining table and sumptuous sofa. I learned from the materials left in the room that Anse Chastenet was a brainchild of a Canadian Architect and his wife who wanted to create a unique experience for their guests – it certainly felt that way. From the balcony we could not see another room or building, just a view of the valley and beach below. The room was actually above the tree canopy so we could sit and look down on the birds hunting. This turned out to be a great way to end a day on the beach.
Talking of the beach, we were taken down there via a cliffside stairway. There is a shuttle service for the less able or less energetic but we used this stairway for the whole holiday. It was great watching the St Lucian beach scene open up and you walked down. The beach area has a well established Dive School, a bar, restaurant, art gallery, sauna and spa as well as a couple of small shops. These are for the enjoyment of the hotel guests and a few boat visitors that cam now and again.
The bar and restaurant were both alternatives to eating at the main restaurants and thus gave a variation to simply eating at the same place each day. The Cabana service was very good as were all the water sport materials provided. I have regularly dived and I can safely say I have never seen such a colourful and varied underwater scene. My partner had never dived before so was ‘at the mercy’ of the instructors. They were brilliant. Within 2 days she was diving with the rest of us, in fact, it has now cost me another holiday…….diving!!!!
After a busy morning doing nothing but soak up the sun and afternoons of diving, snorkelling, boating we often made our way to our room to chill on the balcony and decide where we were going to eat that evening. The food choices were wide and the food was very good with a definite St Lucian angle to it. Apparently it is all local produce. The staff members are all local with the vast majority living in the local villages.
Returning to the issue of no air conditioning, we honestly did not need it; TV and wireless, it was not missed at all. I could pick up wireless in the reception area but after 2 days, work just dissolved away and I did not bother after that. We ventured on some of the trips. These were well presented and were very enjoyable but the holiday did not need enhancing at all, we would have been just as happy not doing these. On one particular day we were in the mood to walk a bit, we visited the ancient plantation for a guided walk. This is access via the beach which is adjacent to the main beach and is also owned by Anse Chastenet. This was a fascinating trip and having walked a while in the hot sun we collapsed on this particular beach. It’s very private and has limited facilities. This resulted in this beach being very quiet and peaceful. An ideal way of spending a day in the Caribbean. We did venture out on the boat taxi service (owned by Anse Chastenet) to explore some of the other parts of St Lucia. Whilst these trips were very enjoyable we always looked forward to turning around the Pitons and approaching ‘our bay’ and enjoying a drink in the bar whilst pretending we had been really energetic.
I would definitely return. Particularly if I want a quiet holiday with an exclusive feel to it and very original surroundings.
Phil travelled to St Lucia with Best At Travel, May 2014