VACATION RECAP: ST. LUCIA
Well, I’m back. Back to reality, back to waking up to an alarm and making my own coffee. Ha! I mean seriously, we went from one vacation (adult trip to Cabo for my 40th) to another (St. Lucia with the kiddos). I’m not gonna lie.. reentry after being wined and dined for 3 weeks was rough, but TOTALLY worth it. Cause if you were tuned into any of my instastories while we were gone, you will know exactly what I’m talking about.
While in St. Lucia I had so many direct messages and emails asking “where are you, Landyn?” “what resort is this?” “Is it all inclusive?” “did they pay for your family to stay there?” “is it easy to get to?” “is it good for kids?” “Are you taking all these pictures on your iPhone?” “where did you get your cover up + dress + necklace?” I love getting your questions and usually I try to answer them in a reasonable time, but I was doing my best to disconnect this trip, and enjoy this precious family time together. Which was such a joy. So, I’m here today to answer all of your questions and then some.
Let me get one question out of the way…..nope, the resort did NOT pay for my family to have this dreamy vacation. That would have been nice :) We saved and planned for this vacation just like all of you. Remember back last winter, I asked you all for suggestions of places to go. I wanted tropical, nice resort, easy to get to, kid friendly, but not one of those cheesy ones where you’ve got to wear a wristband? My inbox was overflowing with suggestions, and so many good ones. Funny enough, a few of you mentioned St. Lucia. At the same time my husband and I searched the internet for weeks trying to find the perfect place. In the end it was between The Viceroy Sugar Beach and Four Seasons Anguilla. Both extremely nice, but in the end Sugar Beach was easier to get to. So, St. Lucia it was and boy, did we ever choose right. Let me tell you about it…….
THE VICEROY SUGAR BEACH
We left Mexico, flew home to Nashville. Said hello to my in-laws and Jack, did some laundry and flew out Florida the very next day. My kids had been with my parents while we were in Cabo. Spent a day and half loving up on my side of the family, then off to the airport we went. We flew out of Miami to St. Lucia. The flight was super easy, and believe it or not it was still about a 3 hours and 45 minute flight. It’s darn near Venezuela. Look it up.
Like anytime you arrive in a foreign country, know where you’re going. As in set up your transportation ahead of time. They see you coming a mile away and may try to take advantage of you. It’s like we have a stamp on our forehead DUMB AMERICAN lol. Not like they will harm you, just charge you double in taxi fees to get you to your hotel. Just say, no thank you and keep walking. Knowing this we set up airport pickup and return ahead of time. We used Barefoot Holidays. Our driver was fantastic. Local gentleman, never has left the island and was fun to chat with. In the end we got a full 1 hour tour about the island. He was proud and happy to tell us everything about his country. We all enjoyed it. Learned that St. Lucia was under British and French rule 14 times over. They became an independent country in 1979. They supply all the bananas to great Britain. They love country music. Summer is their rainy season and they drive on the left.
Sugar Beach is about a windy 1 hour drive from the airport. Along the way we saw many colorful houses, people walking barefoot on 100 degree blacktop and more Nissan sprinter vans than we could count. Quite a few goats roaming free along the roadsides. Majestic views of the ocean through the lush mountain sides and one standoff in the middle of the road with a cow. It was perfect, and a cultural eye opening experience for the kids.
Upon arriving at the resort we were welcomed by the most magical human you’ll ever meet. His name was Sherman. He was right out of a Disney storybook. His eyes were the prettiest green, his voice high pitched and joyous. It’s like he danced on air. He knew all our names and right where we were going. He jumped in the passenger seat with four of the prettiest coconut drinks you ever did see, paper umbrellas and all, and rode up with us to our villa, smiling from ear to ear the entire way. We all feel instantly in-love with him, even Steve. He was our guy and would be throughout our stay.
He wouldn’t let us touch our bags. He said we were on vacation now, and that he was there to make sure everything was perfect. He began with the tour, walking us through the villa, opening every door and drawer. Explaining the Nespresso machine, that half of the mini bar was FREE and every night he would be leaving a treat on our bedside table. Then he handed Steve this magical little phone, it was blue and looked like a toy. He said whatever you need- 24 hours a day….just call. Need a ride to breakfast? Call. Want to rent a movie? Call. Need something ironed? Call. Want to go sightsee on the island? Call. Honestly, I just wanted to call and hear his voice when he answered. Sherman was ALL. THE. THINGS. (not sure if you can request Sherman, but I would definitely try) He made the trip so special.
Our villa was perfect. Number 805 + 806 to be exact. They are like little gingerbread houses all in white, and tucked in privately along the lush mountain side. The interiors are white as well. It’s a dream. Each bed is draped in a mosquito net, very romantic if you ask me. The softest linens, I scoured every square inch looking for a tag. I will find out. I need them in my life. The bathroom was huge and each had a clawfoot tub, in addition to a massive marble shower for two. Since we had the kids we were put in a villa that had two adjoining rooms that were connected by a darling foyer. Completely private, and gave the kids a since of independence and us our privacy.
The resort has four restaurants, so no need to ever really leave. Although we were told about two really good spots, but never ventured out. Ladera- amazing views and food, and Boucan - everything thing on the menu has chocolate somehow incorporated in each dish.
Bayside Restaurant- serving lunch and dinner. We ate here most nights. They food was fantastic. They have 3 specials that change nightly giving you some variance to the menu, but there was plenty to keep you happy. I wanted to try it all. Our favorites were the Red Curry w/ Shrimp, Zarzuela, Fennel Crusted Mahi, Heirloom Tomato Salad and the Seafood Chowder. They offer a pretty good kids menu and will accommodate any request; like plain pasta etc. My kids loved the roasted chicken.
Bayside Bar- everything from sushi to pizza - while sitting right on the beach, I’m talking toes in the sand.
The Cane Bar- serving sushi and designer cocktails- and offer entertainment most nights. No children after 10pm. We enjoyed a date night there and let the kids stay back and order room service. Get the edamame!
The Great Room- serving dinner and more formal dress. Men must have pants, and Steve didn’t bring any, so we never got to experience it. Although, Sherman offered to find some and I bet if he couldn’t he would have pulled them out of his magic hat. Also a little bird told us we weren’t missing anything. Apparently they has an awesome chef that left and the guy now is so-so.
The Terrace- serving breakfast daily on the patio. They have a full menu, in addition to a pretty sweet continental buffet inside. Everything was homemade.... banana bread, local nuts and fruits, kale juice, yogurt, salmon and cured meats. The waffles were my kids favorites. We loved the egg white and veggie omelets and each comes with these little hash brown thingy that are out of this world!
Ok, so when you're on vacation you must get all the fruity drinks- here were our favorites to sip on poolside: Passion Fruit Daiquiri’s, Tequila + soda water and fresh orange juice, Banana Daiquiri’s and Pina Colada’s. The kids kept a steady hold on Blue Virgin Pina Coladas and Strawberry Daiquiris’s. Same menu is offered while sitting under those picturesque tiki huts for two. Along with a great beach lunch menu. Need I go on……it’s everything. And at least 5 times a day they come by and offer you a refreshing lavender cool towel or some sort of complimentary fruit tea. We never wanted to leave.
Oh man, where do I begin… I’ve been to some spas in my travels over the years, but I've never been to anything like this. The spa is literally sitting within a rainforest. Each treatment room is its own little tree house perched on a limb within what looks like Swiss Family Robinson Tree house. Its really something to see. Steve and I knew we wanted to treat ourselves to a massage, but then we were like what about the kids? Did we want to just leave them to fend for themselves for 80 minutes? We thought what the heck…lets see if they have kid services. Well, of course they do. HA! Lily has been wanting to get a teen facial at home, so why not, now seemed like the perfect time. That’s what she got and se LOVED it. How could she not, those are my favorite too. Then there was Luke, what treatment could a 10 year old boy want or even want to do? Then the lady at the reception desk suggested a chocolate wrap. Yep, the boy got a 25 min back massage and then was wrapped in chocolate. Yep, you guessed it… he LOVED it. As we sent them off in their little white robes we had to laugh. All we could picture is their sweet little faces and eyes starring at the ceiling not knowing what to expect. After the kids walked to their treatments, Steve and I were escorted into our room and enjoyed the most relaxing couples hot stone massage. Of course it was ALL. THE. THINGS.
So, lets say you are tired of sitting (not sure why. lol) under your tiki hut and wanna be adventurous, the hotel offers all sorts of complimentary rentals. From snorkel gear to paddle boards and even kaiaks. The only this that cost is water skiing and tubing. We spent the $96 and had them take the four of us tubing. It was a hoot. We laughed so hard, and never flipped. I thought for sure we were going over with Steve on one side of that thing. Ha! Good times.
On our third day we called Sherman and asked if he could set up a little tour for us. We had been hearing about the mud baths and these waterfalls. He said sure thing, The Explore Soufriere Tour it is. Be ready at 9 am after breakfast and you’ll be back by noon. He said all we needed was swim suits and our camera. He’d take care of the rest. We were greeted by Simeon, another gem of a guy. I’m telling you everyone was so nice and fun to be with. He greeted us with a smile and fresh towels and off we went. First stop was the sulfur mud baths. We got there early, I hear it can be very crowded, but we lucked out. Only us and another family of four from England and a couple from Texas that were taking a much needed vacation after throwing their daughter a dream wedding. Can you blame them. Simeon stayed right there with us and stepped in as camera man and honorary tote bag holder for the day. He said, I’m like the paparazzri! Ha! And that he was.
The mud bathes are something to see. It wasn’t what I pictured, but pretty cool nonetheless. It’s more of a concrete hot tub. It’s a constant flow of 100 degree muddy water making it’s way from the volcano into the tub (that’s where you sit) and then down into these babbling brooks and then I’m assuming into the ocean? Yes, it smells like rotten eggs, but nothing you can’t get used to and to be honest that didn’t bother any of us much. You first take about 15 minutes and soak in this grey muddy tub said to make you ten years younger. In that case, can I stay 15 more minutes? After you soak up to your chin, being careful NOT to get any in your mouth…it’s basically a laxative if you do. After that you step out and walk up stream, where you then have fun painting yourself and each other with the thick stuff. Putting it everywhere, even your face. Kids had fun adding tribal lines to our faces and each others. We looked like some sort of ancient aztec warriors. Then you stand along the edge and close your eyes and let the sun bake it on. It was quite relaxing and peaceful. Once the dark grey mud dries it turns into a chalky white color. After that you rinse back into the mud tub. I couldn’t get over how soft and silky my skin felt. Pretty amazing. I’m now thinking of adding some sort of sulfur mud mask to my Sunday night routine.
After our “spa” treatment we were guided on a tour of the volcano and the active beds where till this day are still active. It hasn't erupted since the late 18th century, and I was hoping this wouldn't be the week either. It was pretty informative and was guided by a local man that pointed out all sorts of fun facts + species of plants and fruit trees. I learned that it takes a bananas tree 9 months to bare fruit and that each plant only does it once. And that there is only ONE single cashew per pod on a cashew tree. Who knew?
Next stop was the waterfalls and as Simeon informed us, “the water isn’t cold, it’s REFRESHING” No, it’s freakin’ FREEZING, but we didn’t travel this far to not go in. After the initial shock of it all it was quite refreshing and as a matter of fact we all went under a few times. It was awesome and made for some pretty pictures and a feeling of badassory! I totally recommend it. The day continued to be a treat and our next stop was a botanical garden and I have never in my life seen so many beautiful flowers and so many interesting species of plants. The best part, the tour was lead by a local. He didn’t work at the garden. He didn't have a uniform, as a matter of fact he appeared to be wearing the same clothes for quite some time. He walked with a limp and carried a small cane, but his personality and knowledge for everything living thing on the tour was bigger that life, and a smile that matched it. I could have listened to him for days. He was hysterical too. I love tours and learning about things, and he made my day. He gladly accepts tips and I was happy to reward him.
The tour ended with a stop by a local restaurant that had the most amazing views. We sat on an open air porch at two tables along the edge. We enjoyed jerk chicken, fish cakes, baked bread fruit, the most delicious fried bread and their island fruit tea. So good and all part of the tour. It was an amazing day and one we won’t forget. It was informative, half a day and unforgettable. The total cost for the 4 of us was $320
We spent most of our days relaxing + eating and drinking on the most beautiful beach nestled between the mighty Pitons. I mean what else could you ask for. The weather was dreamy. It stayed between 85 and 95 degrees. Yes, there was humidity, but the breeze off the ocean was constant and refreshing. The service was excellent and everyone was so lovely and attentive, yet not obnoxious. The one thing I will say is that the food service was at a leisurely pace. Not sure if that’s the point, to take your time and enjoy each experience or are we always in a rush back home and it was hard to just relax. It didn't really bother me once I was there a for a day or two. It’s also a European thing, so maybe that was it. Hey, I wasn’t cooking…so I wasn't complaining. They can take all the time they need.
The resort is only four years old. It was a Marriott I believe they said before being completely renovated and developed into what is now The Vicerory Sugar Beach. And before that a resort called The Jalouise once lived here for over 30+ years. A lot of you asked why we picked this resort and I touched on that earlier. Honestly, it gets back to the theme of this year for me…Making Pretty Choices. It really is the theme of my life. It applies to everything, even choosing a vacation spot. When scouring the internet all those nights, the one thing I looked for was decor and the aesthetic of each potential choice. Call me crazy, but if I’m going to spend our hard earned money on a vacation once a year….damn it, it’s gonna be pretty. I want to to look like a place I’d live. If possible I would like it decorated in every shade of white. I would like it clean, and picturesque. Because for that week, I’m escaping the stress of real life and going to imagine that I am a queen and live on this secluded beach. It was all a dream. It was such a magical place to disconnect from the daily grind and reconnect with my precious little family. We just LOVED it and I can't recommend it enough. If you're looking for just that…..go.