St Lucia: Sweet luxury in a tropical hideaway

Room Service: Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort Saint Lucia

The late Colin Tennant, aka Lord Glenconner, first spotted the potential of the Jalousie plantation 30 years ago. Disenchanted with Mustique, the Grenadine island that he turned into the Caribbean home of the jet set, he headed north to Saint Lucia in 1981 to create a new playground for the rich.

He found the ideal spot in a rainforest cradled by the Pitons, the two volcanic spires that rise out of the blue depths of the Caribbean on the island’s south-west coast. Within it stood a plantation house, built by early French settlers in the mid-1700s, where sugar was once produced – the ruins of the original mill can still be seen in the gardens. After the abolition of slavery its purpose was turned to copra, cocoa and coffee production, but it fell into disrepair until Tennant’s arrival.

The plan to open a hotel here was controversial. Tennant met fierce opposition to his all-inclusive project because of concerns about its environmental impact and whether it would benefit the local economy. But he got the green light, and in 1992 opened his luxury hotel. By 1996, the project had failed and its doors shut, only to reopen the following year with Hilton at the helm.

Fast-forward to 2005 and enter the current owner Roger Myers, accountant to the megastars. In 2008, he invited the Viceroy Hotel Group to manage the 100-acre resort and wrote a US$100m cheque to lift the place out of the doldrums. The final touches were made last month with the official rebranding of the Jalousie Plantation hotel to Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort.

The transformation has been thorough. Where once stood Tennant’s gingerbread cottages, now 59 clapboard villas cling to the hillside jungle; eight beachfront bungalows rest on the sands; 11 refurbished original suites peek out of the undergrowth around the plantation house; and six two- to five-bedroom residences (three are still being built) sit above the waves.

Sugar Beach now offers a spa within tree houses, three restaurants including a new open-walled ocean-side bistro, two bars, a children’s club, boutique, business centre, gym and tennis courts. The swimming pool has been resculpted and the watersports centre upgraded. But most impressive is the designers’ wish to let the house glory in its architectural heritage, yet add striking references to the modern age such as works by the Puerto Rican photographer Carlos Mercado that hang on the restaurant walls in the Great Room.

There’s a lot going on in this tangle of rainforest, yet nature, and the colonial house in its embrace, continue to shine through.

Location

Sugar Beach is a 45-minute drive north-west of Hewanorra airport, in a luxury enclave on the south-west coast. Local attractions include taking a mud bath at the Sulphur Springs (001 758 495 5212; soufrierefoundation.org; EC$12.50/£3), and climbing Gros Piton with the help of a guide from the Interpretive Centre at Fond Gens (001 758 459 3965; soufrierefoundation.org; US$30/£20). The old French capital Soufrière is a short drive away, while Anse La Raye, site of the island’s weekly Fish Fry, is closer to today’s capital, Castries, which is an hour or so to the north by road.

Comfort

All the accommodation pales against the landscape, purposefully. White is the dominant tone, from the walls to the voiles draped over the four-poster beds – better to appreciate nature’s blues and greens beyond – with the only strong contrast provided by the dark wood floors. The feel is colonial Caribbean: louvred doors, balustraded terraces, basket-work chairs. The Luxury Villas on the hillside are spectacular, not least for the mesmeric views they offer of the Pitons from their wraparound terraces and infinity plunge pools. The interiors of the one- and two-bedroom villas comprise sitting room, bedroom, dressing room, bathroom and shower room. The interiors of the thatched one- and two-bedroom Luxury Beachfront Bungalows and the one-bedroom Luxury Guest Rooms in the gardens are similarly configured, though on a smaller scale. The Luxury Beachfront Bungalows have terraces with outdoor shower and Jacuzzi, while the Luxury Guest Rooms have a walled garden, patio, plunge pool and private rooftop terrace. All rooms come with free Wi-Fi access, iPod docking station, flat-screen TV and mini-bar and are attended by butlers.

Travel Essentials

Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort, Val des Pitons, Soufrière, Saint Lucia (001 758 456 8000; sugarbeachaviceroyresort.com).

Rooms: 4/5

Value: 3/5

Service: 4/5

Doubles start at £594, room only.

News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: MI Developer

    £35 - 45k: Guru Careers: An MI Developer is needed to join the leading provide...

    Recruitment Genius: Fitness Manager

    £20000 - £22500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leisure organisation manag...

    Recruitment Genius: Visitor Experience Manager

    £25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Delivering an inspiring, engagi...

    Recruitment Genius: Learning Team Administrator

    £17500 - £20500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are looking for a great te...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions