Words by Kimberly Fisher
St. Lucia, one of the lushest islands of the West Indies, is a painted landscape of towering tropical mountains, deep azure coloured seas and soft black sand beaches. The largest of the volcanic Windward Islands in the Lesser Antilles, St. Lucia has over 100 miles of pristine coastline. St. Martin is a next-door neighbour to Martinique, Barbados, and St. Vincent in the distant eastern Caribbean Sea.
A long history resulting in a blend of French, English, African and East Indian cultures, makes St. Lucia a delicious melting pot of eclectic culture and food with English being the official language of the island. At 27 miles long and 14 miles wide, you have a lot of ground to explore, not including under the sea and on the mountains.
One of the most famous and historic resorts on the island, the 600-acre; 49-room Anse Chastanet (pronounced Ants-shas-tan-ay) was named after French aristocratic families that settled on the island. Originally built in 1968 by three imaginative and determined Canadians, the hotel is anchored by views of The Pitons, crystal clear bays and colourful skies.
With no roads at the time, all the construction equipment had to be brought from Soufriere by canoe and carried up by manual labour. The current owner, Nick Troubetzkoy, purchased the hotel in 1974 and, as an architect, saw the extensive potential. He started reconstruction, taking down structures that blocked views, adding 10 rooms to the existing 14, including two suites. In 1985 12 beach-side rooms were added using natural materials, and again in 1990 for 11 additional hillside rooms.
Upon check-in, you are greeted by no less than four staff members (bellman, concierge, manager and reception), and greeted with no shortage of stunning views and a welcome cocktail made with fresh juices and sugarcane. Once you arrive and get settled into your room, decorated in touches of MADRAS fabrics, mosquito-netted beds and island woods, you are free to explore all the resort has to offer.
Anse Chastanet is the perfect getaway for those that truly want a destination resort. On the grounds are four restaurants, three bars, two boutiques, a spa, art gallery, chocolate factory, dive shop, beauty shop and tennis courts.
Three totally diverse restaurants (The Treehouse, Emerald’s Vegan, Jungle Beach Bar and Grill) offer several options, all farm-to-table fresh. Private dining on the beach with dedicated waiter service sets a romantic tone for the evening, or check out the room service menu if you fancy more of a private, relaxed dinner.
One of the main highlights of the island are the beaches, and those close to the resort do not disappoint. Anse Chastanet has two; Anse Chastanet and nearby former colonial Plantation Anse Mamin, known for their island grill restaurant.
If you are feeling adventurous, try out kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkelling or scuba diving. On land, guided walking tours are popular, but for more of a challenge, try jungle biking or hiking.
Anse Chastanet has implemented an astounding sustainability policy – 97% of rooms are ultra low energy with natural air conditioning from the trade winds, no Styrofoam or plastic and underwater cleanup program.
Close to the resort on the southwestern side of the island is the only drive-in volcano in the Caribbean, featuring 3,000 year-old volcanoes, sulphur springs and volcanic mud bath. St. Lucia is the hottest and most active geothermal area in the Lesser Antilles, and the therapeutic mineral water is known for its extensive healing properties, all making for a perfect spa day!
After taking a mud bath, head to a nearby waterfall for a rainforest bath under a 50-foot waterfall at the Toraille Waterfall. The charming landscaped area features lush greenery, while the waterfall cascades into a pool.
On the water
One of the nicest ways to see St. Lucia is on the water. Boat tours can be arranged as a half-day or full day, private or group tour. Cruise in Marigot Bay and Anse Cochon, where you can swim, snorkel and check out the small fishing villages of Anse La Raye and Canaries along the way and don’t miss the bat cave or the Tunnel of Love.
The town of Soufrière is home to several notable landmarks. The town square is usually busting with island activity; the botanical gardens are worth a stroll and small restaurants serve local cuisines, dashed with island spices.
Anse Chastanet Resort
Address: Old French Road, St Lucia
Phone: +1 800-223-1108