Back in September, one of our Directors was lucky enough to embark on a post-lockdown fam trip to beautiful St Lucia to experience our properties there: Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort and Anse Chastanet and Jade Mountain. Here she relives her first trip taken since January 2020…
Stepping off the plane at Hewanorra Airport felt surreal to say the least. Having not travelled abroad for 18 months, completed countless pre-travel forms, and received that all important negative PCR test, I couldn’t believe we’d actually made it. Just one more hurdle of airport checks remained, and we had officially arrived in St Lucia for the trip of a lifetime. As soon as we were in the taxi on the way to our first stop, any airport admin melted away, and we knew it had been totally worth it already.
Arriving at Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort, built on various levels on a hilly patch of land in the North of the island, we were amazed by the huge villa we’d been assigned, with incredible views over the ocean and beach below and across to the town of Castries, and our very own plunge pool. We were so exhausted on arrival we ordered room service and wondered why we would ever leave our private paradise to even explore the rest of the resort when we’d been kitted out with everything we needed for a week of relaxation.
Reenergised and waking to the sound of the waves and the tropical birds the next morning, we dragged ourselves away from our gorgeous villa and headed down to breakfast, served with a view of the lapping waves and early morning beachgoers. We settled into island life unsurprisingly easily, staking our claim on some sunbeds next to the beach bar and filling the days with bespoke cocktails recommended by the barman, obsessively checking the turtle sighting area (!), and lazily chatting with other guests and staff. Windjammer has such a friendly vibe, it really made up for 18 months of such restricted human contact.
One of the highlights at Windjammer was the food: from an indulgent Italian dinner at Papa Don’s, to fresh Caribbean salads and seafood for lunch at Jammers, and *those* fish tacos at Embers, we were spoilt for choice at every single meal time. Our personal favourite became Upper Deck, which felt perfect for a special date night, with utterly delicious food, a cocktail list as long as your arm, and a seriously romantic vibe. Having filled up on so much food, we made sure to get out to the water sports centre every day, and kayaked and snorkelled our way around the reef, not forgetting an unmissable sunset cruise, complete with unlimited punch, local food, and party tunes.
If you’ve missed making new friends and the good time buzz of meeting new people during lockdown, then Windjammer is the place for you.
After a week getting used to the gorgeous climate and island life, we headed to the south of the island to the world-famous Anse Chastanet and Jade Mountain resorts. After a drive through the mountain roads, we finally made it to this remote oasis built into the St Lucian hillside. While Anse Chastanet and Jade Mountain share beaches and restaurants, the accommodation are two different prospects, and we started with a few nights in one of the best rooms at Anse Chastanet: The Premium Hillside Room, which is open on two sides to the elements, with an unforgettable view of the Pitons. Despite being open, its position at the top of the resort gives guests absolute privacy, and it’s crazy how quickly you get used to the sounds of nature as you drift off at night. This was certainly the most unique hotel room I had ever stayed in before.
Anse Chastanet (anse meaning beach) is known for having one of the best reefs on the island so we prioritised snorkelling trips for the majority of our stay. Snorkelling straight off the beach, and a little further out on a dedicated boat trip, we saw incredible sea life and stunning coral, and turtles are a frequent visitor to the Chastanet reef too. Anse Chastanet is a place for early rising and immersion in nature from dawn to dusk: breakfast is taken with the birds at Treetops restaurant, lunch on the beach served in chic bamboo baskets, and dinner just steps from the waves, either at Trou au Diable or Aspara. A short boat ride or walk away is a second beach: Anse Mamin, where some of the best burgers we’ve ever tasted are served up on the beach grill, and beach service (complete with soft towels and plenty of drinks) is just as efficient and friendly as at its neighbour.
Determined to remain somewhat active during our stay, we opted for a hike around the Mamin Estate jungle, which is rich with both history and wildlife, and being part of the Anse Mamin beach meant we only had to throw a t shirt on over our swimsuits to wander over to the jungle ready for our tour. And of course, meant we could cool down in the ocean straight after our humid hike. We also booked onto the Gros Piton Hike – not for the faint hearted! Rising at 6am for our departure, the Anse Chastanet team prepared an energising breakfast to go for us, and we set off on the gruelling hike led by our specialist guide, who had been hiking this mountain for 15 years. We learnt so much about the nature and the history of St Lucia during the hike, and the views and sense of achievement were well worth the early wake up and aching muscles.
On our return to the resort, we found we had been upgraded to a Jade Mountain Sanctuary – a serious treat after such an energetic morning. Just steps from the Anse Chastanet villas, entering Jade Mountain feels like entering a new world, as you are greeted with sky high walkways connecting the various sanctuaries (rooms), interspersed with colourful design features sparkling in the sunlight. It is clear what a passion project Jade Mountain is for owner and architect Nick Troubetskoy.
All sanctuaries at Jade Mountain are missing the third wall, so again are open to the elements. The interior design here is more modern and less rustic than Anse Chastanet, and our sanctuary had its own infinity pool, beautifully sparkling with multicoloured tiles. Needless to say, after the morning’s hike, we jumped straight into the pool, beer in hand, and dug into the platter our Major Domo had left for us. As well as the sanctuaries, Jade Mountain guests have access to the Jade Mountain Club – a rooftop bar and sky high restaurant, serving up insanely delicious fine dining. We were lucky enough to eat here twice during our stay, and the food is outstanding, and only topped by the unobstructed, panoramic view of the Pitons and the ocean, and the live local music playing each evening. It truly is the most romantic place I have ever stayed, and it’s no wonder so many couples spend their honeymoon here. We were actually privy to an engagement during our stay, as if we needed any further persuasion of the resort’s romance.
The team at Anse Chastanet and Jade Mountain are expert at balancing ultimate relaxation time with fun and intriguing activities, and we also made sure to experience the chocolate making workshop during our stay, and to visit Emerald Estate Farm to learn all about the resort’s sustainable ethos and see their homegrown produce concept in action, not to mention the new brewery now producing the resort’s very own beer!
After almost two weeks, it was time to head home, and we stepped back onto the plane filled with a renewed sense of adventure, and remembering how rewarding it is to be able to travel to a new place, learn about the culture, meet the people, and get back out into the world.