The luxury begins within minutes of stepping off the plane. And trust us, you may need what is awaiting you here in the small and steamy bustle that is the Saint Lucia international airport. The air is heavy and warm and the journey from Chicago requires a few stopovers, so you’re tired. People are coming up to you and your suitcase asking if you need transport, or help finding a place to stay, with local entrepreneurs almost outnumbering passengers. Potentially overwhelming, yes. But you can keep walking because (as your personal assistant has already emailed you in advance) the kiosk for Marigot Bay Resort and Marina is straight ahead, and there is a woman waiting there with a fresh, scented towel and a cold drink.
You are told that a driver will be fetching you shortly for the hour drive up the side of the mountain and in the meantime, would you like your signature iced tea that awaits at the resort to be with rum, or without? That’s when you know this journey will be a good one. In the world of luxury travel, thoughtful details like that matter, and aside from four days of stunning views and unexpected adventures on the mainland, it’s the small things at Marigot Bay that make a big impression.
On the winding drive up past banana trees and coconuts—windows down—you will learn more about the island of Saint Lucia and what makes it unique among its Caribbean counterparts. Your driver is a local who has traveled the world but always comes back home (because that’s what Saint Lucians do, he says). Family is important and community is celebrated, as is a proud culture rooted in the towering Piton volcano peaks and mountains that are so dramatic they almost don’t look real.
And yet, it’s this massive dormant volcano and the island’s unusual topography that makes it so attractive. Adventure-seekers love the hidden beaches, volcanic mud spas, and reef diving; luxury-seekers love the international yacht-hopping vibe and stunning five-star resorts. Besides that, the unusually high mountain cliffs and minimal tidal changes make the island of Saint Lucia almost hurricane proof, hence Marigot Bay’s nickname as “hurricane hole” and its reputation as one of the safest places to drop anchor during the stormy season.
Your sojourn at Marigot Bay Resort gives you a taste of it all, from an award-winning indigenous spa (with a treehouse) and suite-style villas (with private hot tubs) to restaurants with “farm to fork” cuisine designed to please the most discriminating foodie. Recently inducted into the Preferred Hotels & Resorts network, the property appeals to a diverse list of clientele. Couples seeking solitude and privacy will enjoy the attentive staff (who leave a personal, hand-written note every day) and nightly amenities (ranging from chilled Piton beer to a complimentary bottle of the resort’s house rum) and families will appreciate suite options (including six penthouse suites with private plunge pools) that live like private homes—with enough bedrooms and bathrooms for all, a gourmet kitchen with Neff appliances, Bose sound system, and a sleek dining and living room area with abundant views.
If you want to get a taste of local life, chart a private yacht or sailboat to the edge of the Pitons with sunrises and sunsets you only see on postcards. If you prefer to stay in, grab a cabana by the pool, order fresh sushi from the Brut bar, and enjoy the sunshine into the evening.
While there are several five-star resorts in Saint Lucia, one thing that sets Marigot Bay Resort & Marina apart from the rest is its recently-renovated marina. Those fortunate enough to own a mega yacht can plan to wait out hurricane season at Marigot Bay, anchoring ship in a place where they can not only go through customs without leaving the resort, but take care of all the necessary waste removal, engine maintenance, refueling, hull cleaning, and polishing before heading back out to the ocean. There are 20 mooring locations anchored in the bay with the capacity to berth 42 yachts (or 28 at maximum yacht size, which is 280 feet), making it a popular destination for elite travelers from around the world.
The new marina even has a small market (great for finding local products and groceries, if you feel up to cooking in that gourmet kitchen) and upscale boutiques for the finest designer resort wear. Another attractive feature is that guests staying on their own private yachts can also opt into the amenities enjoyed by guests staying at the resort guest rooms and villas—from the decadent Spa to the restaurants to the double-decker pools and exclusive concierge-arranged outings. Like you, they can also get their own 24/7 personal assistant.
Speaking of which, your itinerary awaits…
Here are just five things you can do while visiting Marigot Bay Resort and Marina (marigotbayresort.com):
The production of rum is integral to the colonial history of Saint Lucia, with fabled tales of rum-runners and pirates you only read about in story books. If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about how it’s made and what makes it the drink of choice on the islands, there are several ways to educate yourself. The obvious (and very fun) choice is right on the resort with an intimate Rum Cave that houses specialty local rums and offers rum tasting classes in a space reminiscent of an authentic distillery. Once you get a taste for it and learn the difference between aged white rums and infused dark rums, go one step further with a guided tour of a working rum distillery. No flip flops or open-toed sandals are allowed on the Saint Lucia Rum Distillery tour for safety purposes and when you’re done with the tour, you’ll get to taste more different types of rum than you even knew existed—including some that are so potent only the bravest dare try.
INDIGENOUS SPA TREATMENTS
What’s a luxury resort without a luxury spa? The award-winning Spa at Marigot Bay does not disappoint. Inspired by Saint Lucia’s natural environment, the spa utilizes indigenous ingredients, with signature treatments connected to the phases of the moon and their impact on the body. Your itinerary for this journey includes the Fiksyon Fwote, an invigorating experience that includes a fusion of traditional “rub” techniques and warm bamboo sticks with a native potion to stimulate natural healing powers of the body while relaxing the muscular system. Other popular spa treatments include facials, enzyme peels, and a variety of massages. Ask your personal assistant about the private treehouse for an experience you’ll never forget.
Dining options abound at Capella Marigot Bay and Marina with a menu option for almost every palate (not to mention 24-hour in-room dining and beverage service). The resort’s signature restaurant is The Grill at 14º 61º, an open-air show kitchen with breathtaking views of Marigot Bay. The chef utilizes a hand-crafted woodburning grill to create what can only be described as culinary theater with exquisite local ingredients. The Rum Cave also offers food and is noted for its cigar bar. Hurricane Hole by the water is a full-service restaurant with a more casual vibe, featuring five flat screen televisions and food that Executive Chef Billy Boyle describes at “fun food.” But your very favorite may end up being the Brut Bar by the pool, where fresh sushi is prepared before your eyes and you can take your drinks and snacks straight to your cabana. Just say “ahhhh.”
The beautiful Marigot Bay is at the heart of just about every activity you embark on here, even if it’s just taking in the views of yachts and sailboats from your marina-side table near the dock. But there are many adventures that take you off the boat and into the rain forests and volcanic landscape that has made Soufriere so famous (did we mention the Caribbean’s only “drive-in volcano” is located here?) Our journey included a hike up to an outdoor spa where you can bathe in volcanic mud at Sulphur Springs amidst a botanical garden and dramatic waterfall. Another land and sea combo option to consider is a Gros Piton Nature Climb and Swim that takes you to the base of one of the island’s most iconic landmarks—the UNESCO World Heritage Gros Piton—and then on a guided hike up to 2,619 feet above sea level. You can also choose to take a boat ride to the northern part of the island to explore the fort and military ruins used during 14 battles between the French and the British or zip line into panoramic vistas along the historic Morne Fortune and enjoy a creole lunch at a 140-year-old plantation nestled in lush tropical gardens.
ON THE WATERFRONT
When it comes to water-based adventures from Marigot Bay, the question isn’t what can you do but what can’t you do. Up for kayaking on the Roseau river, ask your personal assistant to book you for a two-hour tour to a banana plantation guided by a personal instructor. If you prefer snorkeling, a tour (including snacks and non-alcoholic drinks) to the breathtaking coast of Soufriere will have you snorkeling at the base of the Pitons in a reserve that is home to a variety of colorful tropical fish. Other water options include scuba diving into diverse coral reefs and underwater cliff walls; coastal fishing and snorkeling on the western side of the island, led by a personal skipper; or a group deep sea fishing expedition where you can cast for Blue Marlin, Sailfish, Tuna, Wahoo, Kingfish, Snapper, and Dorado. Or you could opt for our favorite, a private sunset cruise that includes sparkling wine and your own crew. Most land and water adventures leave from the Marigot Bay Marina but are organized by Salt Water Services, available via your personal assistant or by emailing [email protected] directly.