Caribbean St. Lucia in OctoberPosted on 01/29/2021
The Caribbean has more than 7,000 individual islands, including 13 sovereign nations and 12 dependencies, and are all part of the sun-drenched Caribbean – so picking just one is a tricky task. Some suit beachgoers, while others are made for exploration. There are islands for history buffs, naturalists, night owls and lovers of luxury. St. Lucia - which celebrates 42 years of independence this year - offers a little of everything.
One of our travelers experienced St. Lucia for the first time while staying at Jade Mountain resort and it was the perfect option for her and her husband to explore St. Lucia. Here is what she has to say about the destination, what it was like traveling during a pandemic, arriving on the island, and the hotel itself; Jade Mountain.
Written by: "Z" from Florida
Arrival: Once you get off the flight you walk outside, then get to an outdoor shaded area and then in a temporary structure where the line continues for the health department screening. We were towards the front of the line and for us it started in the building as it was only one plane that landed. For reference, when we were leaving at the end of the vacation, we walked by that line for the new arrivals and that same line was at least 3 times longer winding down outside, around the building and even into the non-shaded area. Given it took us 1 hour to get through the small line, I expect that larger line we saw on departure would be taking 3 hours easily! So be prepared. When we went they started with 4 health agents and the line was moving well but quickly went down to one agent creating a bottleneck. Luckily for us that happened just before us and we got by, but the line had grown exponentially behind us. Some people were getting pulled to the side, probably because their COVID tests were not PCR. After the health screening we went through immigration where there were 6-7 idle agents and we were literally the only ones passing. So the health check was a major bottleneck.
Helicopter: Once you get out and get your luggage, the helicopter desk is on the right. There is no AC, no restrooms, no beverage. You have to wait for any others taking the helicopter and keep in mind they can be way behind you in line! We lucked out again as the other couple for the helicopter ride emerged literally minutes after us and we went straight for the helicopter. We were told there would be only the 4 of us in a 6 seater due to COVID but somehow they managed to bring last minute one more couple so we were at 100% occupancy. The ride was magnificent! 7 minutes of gorgeous sites and very fun and unique experience.
Check In: There is no lobby, no official check in. We were literally whisked away from the helicopter by several employees and taken to our Moon sanctuary JB5. All the check in activities happen there while you enjoy the views and a nice cocktail. Our butler was Toyan and we liked him right away! All signatures, passport copies, sanctuary tour, etc. happen right there!
COVID precautions: Very safe! You get your temperature checked on your wrist twice a day. Employees and guests wear masks. You can go on for a full day easily without encountering any other guests anyway, depending on what you do. Cleaning and sanitation are through the roof.
The Sanctuary: Everything that we expected and more! We had booked a star but were upgraded[as clients of The Travel Connection] to moon without asking. Gorgeous views, lots of space. We loved the floor which was the 3rd one in the building. The first is the sky suites with no pools and not much views. Second is the A level and we were third at B level. I didn’t want to be higher than that anyway because of noise (music and voices) from the restaurant. At B level you are at 180 feet elevation above sea level and the views are gorgeous! The privacy is absolute which I hoped for but didn’t think possible. There literally isn’t a way for anyone to see you, so it’s perfect for skinny dipping !
My concerns coming in were several and luckily none came to fruition. I’ll address all:
No A/C. We are from Florida and our lives are built upon the existence of AC! We love to sleep in freezing cold so I was naturally very concerned. I swear there is some witch craft in how these sanctuaries are built! Not ONCE did I feel uncomfortable without AC indoors! If anything, I was chilly a few times. Something about how the air flows, the vents, etc. that is just pure magic. On many instances we’d feel nice and cool in the sanctuary then step outside to go some place and within a few steps be dripping rivers of sweat! Even going down the steps or on the same level. Yet somehow at that exact time in the sanctuary it felt cool. I’m still blown away how it works but it does.
Noise. I was worried about being being able to hear voices, or, gasp!, music played by other guests and by the restaurant at night. I am very sensitive to noise pollution. We had absolutely no problem with noise from other guests. Both sanctuaries next to us were occupied but might as well not have been. We didn’t hear a beep at all the entire time. We did hear the live music at night since we go to bed early but with earplugs it was ok to still fall asleep. Only one night we woke up from chatter outside - we can’t tell where it came from and even if it was real. Lastly, there was some chainsaw work during the day at the beach and we could hear that. But that’s all. The noises of nature are what’s prevalent and they are amazing! The water falling, birds and frogs chirping, rain pouring - it was unreal! Loved it!
Smells. I’m very sensitive to cigarette smoke and have a hound nose! I was worried about someone smoking in another sanctuary and me smelling it. Not only did none of that happen but I didn’t see or smell a single smoker guest the entire vacation! Which was magnificent! I only once smelled a local smoking either pot or a cigar (something nasty) in the huge distance and then hit disappeared. It wasn’t a guest, it was one of the fishermen. The smells I did smell in the sanctuary are again marvelous! They burn some candles and oils that repel the bugs and smell awesome to us! So no problem with that at all
A few other things about the room that I wasn’t worried about but I know many are:
- The Open Bathrooms - we absolutely loved them! Nothing like showering to the sights of the pitons. Also, the bathroom was always fresh and airy instead of steaming up. I know it’s personal preference but my husband and I have been together over 20 years and we saw the open plan as a benefit
- The stairs - I counted 408 steps from the beach to our B level sanctuary. That’s 180 feet elevation. Absolutely no problem for us - we are both fit, love exercise and I’m a daily runner.
- Wildlife in the room - we LOVE wildlife! Not only we didn’t squirt the birds with the water gun, we fed them! The little bull finches will come eat from your hand! We saw only one lizard other than that and one giant moth, neither of which bothered us at all.
- Bugs - The first night we didn’t have the smelly things turned on and, being new there, left the lights one. The sinks and the bathtub filled with bugs! After that night we learned and the it was very surprising to see just no bugs come in to the room at all! We kept the lights low and the smell things were on
Food: We had the MAP plan (breakfast and dinner, alcohol not included). We intentionally stay away from all inclusive because it’s too much eating for us. We ordered a daily plentiful breakfast in the room and whatever was left over we had for lunch, along with the bento box they give you. Not once did we buy lunch. We ate all our dinners at the Jade Club (except the first night which we had delivered at the room due to timing of reservations). We could have eaten at the Anse Chastanet restaurants but why downgrade? Jade has a different menu every night and the food is beyond marvelous. We are both extremely picky for food and are well traveled around the world to 5 star exotic locations. We both agree that Jade Club was the absolute most consistently best dining experience we have had anywhere around the world! I’m strictly pescatarian and my husband is like 90% pescatarian with making rare exceptions. We had plenty of great choices every night! The one problem I had with the food service was that no matter how many times I told them I don’t eat meat, I had to CONSTANTLY be on the lookout for them sneaking meat into my plates. For example, we announced No Meat from the start yet several of our bento boxes were completely meat based. Which means I couldn’t eat them. Even at dinner I’d start with No Meat and they’d acknowledge but then bring me an extra sample (amuse la bouche type that I didn’t order) that may have meat. On the breakfast orders I had to write in huge caps NO MEAT to make sure it’s noticed. I wish there was better communication and consistency about such preferences.
Beach: We are lucky to have gone in a COVID time when there are no cruise ships. The main beach had some people but wasn’t packed and we could get a front row umbrella mid to late morning with no problem. However, there was some major chainsaw drilling that started on our 4-5th day which drove us to Anse Mamin beach. And OMG was that heaven! We would be literally the ONLY one there! The bar and towel service was open so we had attendants, including a security guard, all to ourselves! A dream come true! We either walked there or took the free boat taxi, which is fun!
Snorkeling: Absolute highlight of the vacation! We took the snorkel trip that goes to the base of the Pitons and I’m glad we did because it got us over some anxiety from deep water. This is only the second vacation we snorkel (last year was in Bora Bora) so we aren’t quite proficient. The piton snorkel excursion was fun and I’m glad there was a guy in the water with us for safety. He pulled along a floatie in case any of us wanted to rest. It made me feel safe and comfortable and I stuck by him like glue! The guy was clearly bored as I watched him catch seaweed strings and peel them in pure act of boredom but that was just a side observation. He did a great job making me feel safe! Next we tried to snorkel at the main beach without having really any expectations to see much. Wow ! Were we proven wrong! The best fishies, gorgeous corals, so much sea life! Right there at our beach! It became a major feature of our vacation and we snorkeled every day. Sadly, Anse Mamin beach doesn’t have much fishies because the darn fishermen hang out there and scare them off/kill them. At Anse Mamin you have to go way off to the left I to the corals. Bring flippers! We didn’t have any swimming against the current was exhausting! It was quick and easy to get out, enjoy the fish and then when you have to go back you have a freaking 15 minute solid big effort swim!
Running: I run 5 miles a day at home (always outdoors, at the beach in FL) so finding running grounds in vacation is critical for me. While at Jade, I found a 3.5 mile running path that’s mostly flat - from the sanctuary, down the steps, to the Anse Mamin beach. Then get in the jungle biking trails. I ran the Reservoir Trail first, then back to the entrance via Aqua Azul trail connect, the take the Riverside Trail and run it to where it gets steep. Back around and before exiting there is one more loop on the right. Then back to Jade. That gives you about 3.5miles. I then went to the gym and ran 1-2 miles there. Worked perfect every morning! That, daily yoga in the sanctuary, climbing steps and swimming for my life kept me feeling good and active. Btw if you have watched the movie Turistas you may find the beach and trails a bit scary so early in the morning. I went right after sunrise and I won’t lie, I was scared! But I never encountered anyone except my husband who’d come for a run a bit after me. On the last day I was very disappointed to find the gates to the trails locked with a chain. There was a sign that said they open at 6am and I waited until 6.17am but nobody came. Boo!
The good: The employees that really stood out in a positive way are Toyan, Okeda and Lester. There was one more major domo who went above and beyond for us to reschedule our chocolate cooking class after a misunderstanding but I didn’t catch his name. Overall all employees were marvelous! I do wish we kept Toyan as major domo the whole time. He gave us a phone to call him but that phone rings the whole butler team. So we ended up dealing with what felt like 6-7 butlers and totally lost track
Chocolate Class: Awesome experience! Do it if you area chocolate lover. It was really fun and I formative and we made our own chocolate. And it’s super delicious!
Spa: My husband and I got a couple’s massage at spa. It was most definitely enjoyable overall. I get massages bi-weekly at home mostly due to sports and I’m very particular about what I want. This massage was supposed to be deep tissue but by my standards of medium deep. I still enjoyed it and found it relaxing. My husband loved his (he got Swedish, which is what he likes). The spa facilities were a disappointment for me. They are really basic. Small space, dark rooms, no views. Nothing memorable at all. Given the gorgeous location of the resort, they could have done better.
Environment: the resort is overall environmentally conscious which I do appreciate! No plastic shampoos and, thank goodness, nobody tried to replace our barely used hand soaps which is one of my pet peeves. I was disappointed, however, that there was no option to recycle the many plastic water bottles given to us. Having said that, I did see once some large containers in the back of the resort that were filled with plastic bottles so i wonder if they do recycle. My biggest grievance is that every plate in our daily breakfast room service came covered in plastic wrap. Sickening! Why not reusable lids? Even the little bowl that contains a few salt and pepper packages was wrapped. Why? The salt and pepper are already packaged. When we asked for ice they’d bring a bucket covered in plastic wrap only to them transfer the ice into the bucket in our room which had a lid. Why? So I stopped asking for ice ahead of time and I’d wait for them to come to the room and then ask for ice handing them our bucket. But why do we need such inefficiencies? The coffee in the room comes in two types - one is American brewed coffee and the other is an espresso machine with those evil little plastic pods. I think the brand is Illy. Again, too much plastic. Along this lines, I must say we LOVED the tea pot! What a nice touch to have an actual tea pot for heating up tea water in the room!
Overall we are extremely happy with the vacation and will be back!
At The Travel Connection it’s only natural that we will care about our travelers having an amazing experience. It should not be simply a matter of choosing the right property but also a matter of helping choose the right destination for our clients. We have a passion for planning vacations and in today’s climate, we are here to help navigate the pot holes so you can enjoy the moment and embark on exceptional experiences. When you travel, you meet new people, cultures, experience new things, embark on all sorts of adventures (good and bad), and perhaps even redefine your meaning of life.
If you would like to discuss your next adventure, we would love to hear from you.
Let’s start with a simple conversation and see where that ends!