St. Lucia is finally stepping up to the luxury-vacation-spot plate. A handful of
independent high-end properties are now accepting reservations, and big names like Westin and Ritz-Carlton will open their doors in the near future.
St. Lucia is located in the eastern Caribbean Sea in the Lesser Antilles. Since November, American Airlines has been operating three direct flights a week from New York's JFK to St. Lucia's Hewanorra International Airport. Air Jamaica flies the same route four times a week.
WHERE TO STAY
Nestled high on Morne Chastanet mountain is the new ultra-luxe, eco-friendly hideaway and sister hotel to the Anse Chastanet – Jade Mountain. Each of the 24 open-concept rooms were individually designed by the resort's owner, architect Nick Troubetzkoy, and boast private infinity pools with postcard-worthy views of the lush green Piton mountains and Caribbean Sea. Book one of the $1,400-a-night Sun Sanctuary suites, outfitted with 15-foot ceilings and lo- cally made tropical wood furniture. Technophiles beware: all rooms are
electronics-free, which means no phone, TV or Wi-Fi. The luxury two-bedroom dream villa at Ladera may not have an infinity pool but it does have a private plunge pool with a waterfall, a personal butler and a price tag of $1,200.
Hibiscus House, a private five-bedroom residential rental in Cap Estate near Rodney Bay, (available through Caribbean Way, caribbeanway.com) starts at
$2,000 a night. The sprawling beachfront property has onsite tennis courts, two pools – one for kids and one for adults – and comes with helping hands like a cook, housekeeper and gardener. Inside the colonial-style house,
starched white over-sized couches, dark wood floors and tropical plants make guests feel right at home.
WHAT TO DO
Soar across waterfalls and through tropical valleys with a 20-minute, $120 (per person) helicopter ride over the island's south side with St. Lucia Helicopters. Visit Mount Soufriere, the world's only drive-in volcano, before taking a $95, ecologically minded hike through the interior rainforest with Jungle Tours. Guests of Jade Mountain should book the $220 Anpagal massage at the hotel spa. The 75-minute treatment is performed by two therapists and uses Creole techniques to bal- ance the body's energy. If you're getting island fever, consider a vacation from your vacation with a charted yacht from Moorings. Rates for a five-cabin ship with a cook and captain start at $1,100 a night and sail to neighboring islands St. Vincent and Mustique.
WHERE TO EAT
Get a taste of the local Indian-Ca- ribbean fare at Apsara At Trou Au Diable in the Anse Chastanet hotel. Try the Tandoori king prawns over vegetable paella and the Mahi Mahi marinated in coconut-mint pesto. Dinner for two costs about $96. Overlooking Castries Harbour is chef Harry Drive's elegant Green Parrot, where ex- patriates and in-the-know travelers feast on Caribbean-inspired cuisine. Order a Grass Parrot, the house drink is about, made with coconut cream, crème de menthe, bananas and white rum. Dinner for two with drinks is about $100. At Ladera Resort, hilltop Dasheene has been touted as one of the best restaurants on the island. Favorite dishes include the Mojo steak, the catch of the day served alongside lemon caviar, and the green papaya and pumpkin fritters. Dinner for two comes to about $110.