The Jalousie Plantation
The lowdown After a 45-minute drive from Hewanorra international airport, we arrive at The Jalousie Plantation in the late afternoon and are whisked straight up the steep hill to our villa. Our butler greets us with a rum punch and shows us round our very elegant, pale pastel blue plantation- style villa – everything inside (the walls, furniture, the sliding shutter doors) is painted brilliant white; the vast four poster bed with mosquito netting is super comfortable, there are two flat screen TVs (one in the bedroom, one in the sitting room), an iPod station, enormous walk-in shower, freestanding bathtub and a plunge pool on the terrace. In between the trees, we catch glimpses of the sea further down the hill while we enjoy a bottle of Piton (the national beer of Saint Lucia).
The Jalousie Plantation is tucked between the majestic twin Piton mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where there once stood an 18th century sugar plantation. The main hotel buildings and some of the rooms are situated near the white sand beach, but most of the villas are hidden some distance away up the hill in the 100 acres of lush virgin rainforest. At first, it seems a chore to have to call the shuttle every time you want to go to breakfast, dinner, or down to the beach and back. But the 24-hour service ensures that the friendly drivers arrive almost instantly. Or you could walk, but from some of the more remote villas it’s a long way and very steep on the way back. You have been warned!
Service is unbeatable at Jalousie, every little detail is attended to with a smile, and nothing is too much trouble. Each guest is supplied with a pocket-sized phone to call your butler or reception from anywhere on the property. Guests’ privacy is fiercely guarded by the attentive staff - little wonder this is a haven for A-list celebrities and mega high-earning American CEOs.
Eating and drinking Do not miss out on a pre dinner drink in The Cane Bar - this ultra modern rum bar features a glowing white bar and super comfortable oversized furniture that wouldn’t look out of place in New York. The choice of rums and rum-based cocktails is a little bewildering, so take some advice from the very knowledgeable “rummelier”. Dinner can either be taken in the Bayside restaurant down on the water’s edge – here, where the vibe is Caribbean meets St Tropez, the fresh fish and seafood are highly recommended. And once a week, there are barbecues on the beach. Or for more formal dining, the stunning, colonial-style Great Room is the place to enjoy a candlelit dinner, either indoors or on the terrace. We asked the chef to prepare a tasting menu – each of the five immaculate courses came with a different wine to match the food. Well worth it! The Late Night Bar beckons for a nightcap – the art here is very funky and modern, giant Polaroid prints hung on charcoal walls, which contrast with the bright chairs and large day beds. You could stay here all night!
What to do If lying on the beach or by the pool all day, sipping cocktails, reading and dropping in and out of sleep is not your thing, there is plenty to keep you busy. Activities include tennis, yoga, Pilates, or you could embark on a walk through the spectacular rainforest. For adrenalin junkies, the Gros Piton is open to climbers – but be sure to hire a guide. There are also all sorts of watersports on offer and a PADI diving school, or you could borrow a mask and snorkel and marvel at the marine life at the base of the Petit Piton. If you fancy venturing further afield and can bear to tear yourself away from the luxury of Jalousie, then the Botanical Gardens in Soufriere are well worth a visit, as is the drive-in volcano (expect a strong smell of sulphur in the air) and the sulphur mud baths. All this can easily be done in a two to three hours. On the way back, drop into the brand new Hotel Chocolat’s Boucan restaurant for lunch, dinner or just a drink – each dish is prepared using cocoa from the local estate and the views of the Pitons are breathtaking.
The Rainforest Spa A stay at Jalousie would not be complete without a visit to the amazing new spa. Access is via a long wooden, candlelit covered walkway, which emerges into the rainforest where the seven thatched treatment rooms are set high amid the trees making you feel like Jane in the remake of Tarzan and His Mate. The choice of treatments is huge and the therapists amongst the best we have experienced. The gentle rippling of a stream, warmed by the nearby volcano, can be heard wending its way below. For the non-claustrophobic, the Amerindian steam dome is pure relaxation and an experience not to be missed.
Getting there BA offers 7 nights at the Jalousie Plantation in St Lucia from £2,190 departing in June 2011. Includes return flights from Gatwick and accommodation with complimentary half board, based on two sharing. One free night is included in the price.
Visit ba.com/stlucia or call 0844 4930758.
By Jeannette Arnold