Anse Chastanet, St Lucia
Image courtesy of Anse Chastanet
There was a rather awkward moment during the welcome talk at Anse Chastanet, one of St Lucia’s most idyllic resorts, when the host touched upon the fact that of all the islands in the Caribbean, St Lucia is the one that’s been the most consistently fought over – the British and the French battled over it for centuries. Its ‘ownership’ switched so often that the island became known as the Helen of the West Indies, in the sense that it launched at least a thousand ships and caused an epic level of conflict, now fortunately a thing of the past.
Like Helen of Troy, St Lucia is famously beautiful, thanks to its combination of verdant vegetation paired with azure seas and skies. Flowers bloom in masses of pinks and reds; coconuts, limes and bananas hang from trees, which are aflutter with butterflies and hummingbirds. At the heart of this, on the south-east coast just north of the town of Soufrière, is Anse Chastanet. The hotel was built in the 1960s and no two rooms are the same, although all are decorated in a vernacular style. Sun loungers are covered in colourful gingham and beds are swathed in white mosquito nets, an essential touch when the windows have wooden shutters in lieu of glass.
For the adventurous, there’s ample opportunity for excursions to the nearby towns, visiting the sulphur springs (where you can have a mud-bath that’s supposed to have magically medicinal properties) and for trekking up the Pitons, the two rocky peaks that preside over this hilly island. However, there are plenty of visitors who reach the end of their holiday without ever leaving the resort. Spanning 600 acres, there’s a tropical jungle to hike in, a pair of beaches for sunbathing and swimming, and no fewer than three separate restaurants – two in the hotel complex (one world cuisine that spans French and Italian cooking, the other vegetarian) and an Indian-style restaurant on the beach. There’s even a beach-hut grill half a mile away on the resort’s second beach that’s perfect for grabbing a Piton beer and barbecued fish burger on a lazy afternoon.
If you’re planning a trip to the Caribbean, it would be hard to better Anse Chastanet and St Lucia for best all-round experience (those seeking super-luxury have the option of staying at Anse Chastanet's sister hotel Jade Mountain). With direct flights from Gatwick, the island is easy to get to but isn’t overdeveloped like some of the other Caribbean hotspots. The staff are as sunny as the weather and the resort’s spacious layout means that it feels convivial without being busy. It’s possible to sit on a beach looking out to sea without a single person to interrupt your view of this island paradise. If you think that those postcard-perfect shots of the Caribbean are too good to be true, then clearly, you’ve never been to Anse Chastanet.
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