Rough roads on St. Lucia are not for the faint of heart
Light sleepers may be bothered by evening nature sounds (others may love it!)
This luxurious Viceroy is truly a stunner. It has arguably the best location on St. Lucia, right in between the Pitons, St. Lucia's famous volcanic spires, and on a beautiful white-sand beach. Its 79 rooms are minimalistic, chic, and mostly white, and all come with private plunge pools, butlers, and 24-hour room service; the larger villas and cottages offer living rooms and huge bathrooms (some with outdoor showers and hot tubs). Features include a family-friendly pool, fitness center, tennis courts, and free water sports. The romantic tree-house spa is one of the island's best. The resort's restaurants and bars are pricey, but all-inclusive rates are available to help guests keep costs in check. On St. Lucia, only the adult-only Jade Mountain can compare -- but it lacks the on-site beach found here, and its spa isn't as nice.
One of St. Lucia's top luxury resorts, with a unique, stunning location between the Pitons
As far as location and views go, Sugar Beach has the best of both worlds: It is situated right between St. Lucia's famous, dramatic volcanic peaks called the Pitons, and right on one of the island's best white-sand beaches. Nearby resorts like Ladera and Jade Mountain also boast Piton views, but lack a beach, making Sugar Beach unique among the island's top luxury options (and worthy of the asking price). Also unlike Ladera and Jade Mountain, Sugar Beach allows children (and even caters to them, with dedicated kids' and teen clubs) -- though the resort tries to ensure peace and quiet for couples happy as well, and opened an adult-only beach in spring 2016.
This 100-acre chunk of land is part of a larger UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its history dates back to the 18th century when it was a working plantation (ask staff to point out the sugar mill). The property eventually became a hotel called Jalousie (the creole word for jealousy), and was taken over by the Viceroy Hotel Group in 2008; it reopened in 2012 after a $100 million refurbishment.
Finding the resort entrance can be a little tricky, as St. Lucia is famous for its steep, narrow, and bumpy roads with little in the way of signage. Once it is located, a security guard will check guest names off a list and allow access to another section of driveway, which heads further downhill before landing at an elegant plantation-style home surrounded by lush trees adorned with wicker lanterns. Guests enter to find a wood-paneled space with intricate lattice-work and checkered marble floors, where they will be seated and provided with a welcome drink. It is possible to get a peek of the Pitons from here, and the views only get better as guests head downhill toward the rooms. After check-in, guests can walk around the hilly property (and get a workout in the process) or hitch a ride on brightly colored tuk-tuks straight from Thailand -- a very special touch that lets guests know the resort doesn't take itself too seriously.
Not to say that Viceroy doesn't have an undeniable monied air. The professional staff knows how to cater to VIPs -- even when they are quite demanding. Most guests are romantic couples, though there are certainly families with children as well (too many for some guests' tastes). A typical day for many involves soaking up the sun -- broken up by the occasional rain shower (this is the rainforest after all) -- and then sipping cocktails at sunset before dressing up for dinner. Everyone can expect to fall asleep listening to the nightly chorus of tree frogs.
An hour by car from Hewanorra airport, and a short drive to the authentic town of Soufriere
The resort has more than 100 acres of land, and an ideal position right between St. Lucia’s iconic twin Pitons: Gros Piton and Petit Piton. Virtually every aspect of the resort takes advantage of the stunning vistas. There are plenty of hilly paths and hikes, or guests can call (or flag down) tuk-tuks to take them around; the tuk-tuks are straight from Southeast Asia and make regular rounds to key spots around the resort. There are also air-conditioned shuttles available to transport guests to hot spots in the immediate area, including several of St. Lucia’s best restaurants, the Tet-Paul nature trail, the Diamond Falls botanical gardens and waterfall, and La Soufriere Sulphur Springs and volcano.
Many attractions require a drive through the main town of Soufriere, which can be intimidating with its narrow one-way roads. Even more daunting is the long drive between the south and north sides of the island, which is filled with hairpin turns, massive potholes, and serious inclines. Exercise caution if you plan on renting a car.
Magazine-worthy decor, privacy, and private plunge pools
Viceroy was careful to preserve much of the history and colonial charm of the prior resort, Jalousie, especially from an exterior standpoint. Interiors, however, certainly received a major makeover in the early years of this decade. There are 79 rooms in a variety of sizes, and all share the same crisp aesthetic: immaculate white walls, white furnishings, and white Egyptian cotton bedding framed by sheer (white, of course) fabric covering white four-poster beds -- all creating a gorgeous contrast against the dark wood floors. Colorful paintings from local artists might add a splash of color, otherwise most walls are adorned with black-and-white photography depicting St. Lucian villages. The (white) cabinets and nightstands hold large flat-screen TVs, DVD players, iPads, and iPod docks.
All rooms have a wet bar area with espresso machines, a range of snacks, and mini-fridges stocked with beverages. Be careful to double check prices, as only certain things like beer and juices are free, while other items (especially the liquor) will come with exorbitant prices. Large bathrooms are made with coral stone and have walk-in showers with generous Neil George bath products (some have separate clawfoot bathtubs), as well as bathrobes and slippers. Terraces are a definite highlight, with plush patio furniture and private plunge pools -- many that have jaw-dropping views. Each room is assigned a butler for special requests.
Luxury Sugar Mill Rooms are the entry-level category, and located close to Sugar Beach and the pool; most have views of Gros Piton. The Superior Luxury Sugar Mill Rooms are almost the same, but have private roof terraces overlooking the sea. Guests can upgrade to one of the Luxury Villas, which include separate living rooms with pull-out sofas, walk-in closets, huge bathrooms, and spacious private terraces with even bigger plunge pools. Luxury Beachfront Bungalows are situated right along the beach and also include outdoor showers and hot tubs. One area of the resort is dedicated to even bigger and more luxurious units called Residences at Sugar Beach, which have two to five bedrooms and fully equipped kitchens.
Plenty of water and land activities included in the rate, and a spa that honeymooners will not want to miss
The beach is a major draw, and its fine, white sand inspired the resort's name. The main beach is larger, and has palapas, cushioned wicker loungers, and water sports. The second, smaller beach is for adults only, and has a handful of daybeds and umbrellas as well as a separate bar; it is separated from the main beach by a mountain, and accessible via a pathway or the resort's pontoon boat. Though each room has a private plunge pool, there's also a large family-friendly outdoor pool next to the main beach with more of those Piton views.
Sugar Beach's calm turquoise bay is ideal for swimming and water sports, such as paddleboarding, kayaking, and pedal boating -- all free of charge. Snorkel equipment is free as well (though the country requires a small fee for marine conservation), and guests will not need to go far offshore to see see a variety of marine life. The resort's PADI Dive Center offers instruction for all levels, from beginners to advanced divers, and the chance to explore 16 dive sites; the waters at the base of the Pitons are part of a National Marine Preserve.
On land, guests have access to one of the best fitness centers in the Caribbean, offering free aerobics, yoga, and Pilates classes, as well as to two flood-lit tennis courts. Guests can also sign up for group hikes, including the four-hour Gros Piton trail.
Blending into the trees near the lobby in a noise-free zone is the renowned Rainforest Spa. Guests will first walk through a hallway made entirely from wood to get to the photogenic reception area. Befitting of the natural environment, signature treatments are free of chemicals and incorporate elements like coconut, aloe vera, cocoa butter, and ingredients from nearby volcanic springs and plantations. There are seven tree-house treatment rooms with private showers. There are also a manicure and pedicure area, relaxation pavilion, and traditional steam dome. Treatments include bamboo massages, hot rock therapies, facials, body wraps, salt scrubs, polishes, and holistic treatments.
Parents have access to a kids' club and teen club (both free); the kids' club is for ages 4 to 12, and includes supervised activities such as coconut bowling and sandcastle building. In addition, private babysitting services are available for a fee.
Wi-Fi is free throughout the resort, and there's a business center with desktop computers and printers.
Though food and drink are expensive, few will find fault with the quality.
Viceroy's culinary program has a high standard, and this is reflected in the price. Rates may be shocking for guests -- even those who can afford room rates at this five-pearl resort. There are meal plans available to help keep costs in check (great for families, especially); the all-inclusive plan covers all meals as well as wine by the glass and house-brand spirits.
Breakfast is served on the Terrace, which has indoor and outdoor seating, and guests can choose either continental buffet (included in some rates) or items on an a la carte menu. Alternatively, room service is always available for those who want to dine on their private terraces.
Next to the pool and beach is the Bayside Restaurant and Bar, serving a la carte lunches and dinners. The menu includes items like wood-fired pizzas, seafood, sushi, and sandwiches. This is a popular choice at lunch, and many choose this option for dinner, too, when tiki torches are lit and live Caribbean music adds to a fun ambience. Dress codes are required in the evenings, meaning closed-toe shoes or dress sandals (no shorts, sneakers, or flip-flops).
Requiring more formal attire, the Great Room is the resort's fine-dining restaurant, and serves French-Caribbean fare in candlelit, air-conditioned space. Guests can choose between the a la carte menu or the tasting menu, which changes nightly. Wine pairings are also available.
The Cane Bar has an impressive international rum selection, while the Palm Court offers an upscale lounge setting for afternoon tea and cocktails. Both beaches have an outdoor bar, and surrounding the main pool are private cabanas, which can be reserved for bottle service.
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