Full of remote beaches and lush greenery, St. Lucia is one of the Caribbean’s most naturally luxurious islands. My stay at Calabash Cove Resort & Spa took me back to the basics – on a very high level.
By Ruby Daniela Fischer
A bubbling volcano, serene botanical gardens, stretches of untouched rainforest and beautiful sandy coves – St. Lucia has some of the most dramatic scenery of any Caribbean island. Even though my seven day stay has long past and I’m back in rainy London, the memory of warm air touching my skin the moment I opened my eyes, the smell of flowers in the air and tropical birds visiting my cottage porch every morning is still very present.
The North, South and West coasts are known for their calm water, which make the shores there ideal for sunbathing, snorkelling and swimming. Those looking for an adventure can head to the eastern side of the island, where the waves are perfect for surfing. Chasing the abundance of scenic waterfalls is another favourite pastime for many visitors.
One of the most immediate things that struck me about this jewel in the West Indies was its stunning, unique natural landscape, which certainly sets it apart from other tropical places I have visited. The journey from the airport to Calabash Cove, the beautiful hotel & spa I stayed at was a smooth and scenic ride from beginning to end. It certainly helped that arriving at the airport itself was effortless and easy with no lines or waiting time. From landing to exiting the airport it took only 15 minutes, which – as a tired traveller – I very much appreciated.
Resting on cloud No.9
The driver that Calabash Cove sent me was chatty and eager to talk about all the beautiful places and things his country has had to offer, making suggestions of what I should see and do. We talked about banana trees, cacao ceremonies and the British Commonwealth while driving through lush rainforest and along picturesque ocean-side roads.
The one-hour ride went by in no time. After arriving at Calabash Cove I was shown to my ocean view cottage. The walk down to my home for the next seven days was breathtaking. I almost fell down the last flight of stairs as my eyes were glued to the scenery. The ocean – in all its raw beauty – lay bare naked before me, to the right lush palm trees and colourful hibiscus bushes rocked by the warm Caribbean winds. I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.
When I finally made it to my cottage I was greeted by a beautiful floral bouquet and a delicious tropical snack. The mini bar was stocked with everything you could possibly need for a perfect sunset drink, the patio offered the most stunning views and the huge outdoor shower provided the tropical feels I was after. The bed – which didn’t have to wait long for me that day – was cosy and comfortable with just enough soft pillows to make me feel like I was resting on cloud No 9.
The next morning I woke up early and took a walk around the hillside property before settling back on my patio for a delicious light breakfast with scrambled eggs, veggies and tropical fruits. While eating I watched the cats sunbathing on the steps of my own little cottage pool and listening to the birds giving me a private concert. The rest of the day I spent relaxing on the beach, reading books in my cottage hammock and getting pampered at the spa.
5 * dining experience
Dinner at the beautiful Windsong Restaurant overlooking one of the biggest infinity pools I have ever seen was a treat every night. Local musicians provided live entertainment that added to the authentic ambience.
The menu offered a mix of international cuisine and local fare. Much of the menu seemed to be inspired by Asian cuisine with a Caribbean touch. The chef strives to use local, fresh ingredients in every dish including many grown in the gardens at Calabash Cove.
The waiters were all very accommodating and on my 2nd day I found out that there was a separate vegan/vegetarian menu to choose from. As a plant-food lover you can imagine my excitement. I spent the rest of the trip eating myself through the whole veggie offering. An absolute dream! There wasn’t one dish that did not please my tongue, which was surprising as admittedly, I am a picky eater.
Two of my favourite dishes were the stuffed baked zucchini with grilled tomato, crispy vegetables on a spinach and honey vinaigrette and the jerk tofu with a vegetable Niçoise salad and a mustard olive oil vinaigrette.
The portions were just the right size to leave room for dessert, which was divine. When it comes to the sweet course I find it hard to choose a favourite. They were all delicious. I guess the most unique one was probably the beetroot and banana ice cream. I went for it more than once.
If you are a fish and meat lover you won’t leave disappointed either. The grouper filet caught in local waters, served with ginger carrot purée, glazed snow peas and grilled cherry tomatoes on beet and mango salsa is a guests’ favourite and so is the Saint Lucian red snapper filet, pan seared with a vegetable and chorizo risotto on a corn and clam sauce.
The couple sitting on the table next to mine almost every night swore that the tarragon roasted plantain chicken breast with potato gnocchi, Portobello mushrooms and sundried tomatoes was one of the best dishes they’ve ever had and that the caramelized plum and sour sop duck breast served on glass noodles and tempura vegetables drizzled with teriyaki and papaya sauce was a winner too.
The ultimate spa experience
The Spa deserves a special mention. You feel instantly relaxed walking into the treatment facility as a shooting smell of luxurious essential oil blends and a therapist with a big welcoming smile on their face awaits you. The interior sparks a mix of modern boutique style and traditional Caribbean flair. It offers a wide range of treatments that combine European techniques with St. Lucia tradition of using plant and food-based curatives. Each and every treatment is expertly designed to cleanse the body of stress, rejuvenate the spirit and relax the mind.
The exfoliation products are all organically made from local products that are in some cases directly from the resort garden. I mentioned I had been bitten by a mosquito and asked if they had any cream, the therapist took me outside and cut an aloe plant and rubbed it on my skin to sooth it, simple and effective, really seeing the power of nature at first hand. The therapists are extremely knowledgeable and happy to explain the benefits of the different massages and scrubs.
Coffee scrubs & sunset massages
My personal favourites were the coffee and chocolate scrubs. For the coffee scrub ground coffee and natural sugar with a blend of essential oils are mixed together. The coffee tightens and rejuvenates the skin while the natural sugars gently exfoliate and the oil seals in the moisture leaving the skin amazingly smooth. The chocolate scrub polishes away dull dry skin while leaving a delicious aroma. You almost want to taste it. It is rich in antioxidants that help to fight free radicals off the skin. It gently exfoliates and revitalizes the skin leaving it soft with a silky texture.
Guests always have a choice in the preferred location of their massage. Whether in the spa facility, on the boardwalk, the gazebo or the privacy of their room patio or cottage living room. On my last night I chose the oceanfront gazebo for a sunset deep tissue massage that left me so relaxed I felt tempted to skip dinner and spend the night on the massage table. My therapist used specially blended essential oils that sent me off to dreamland while the waves gently caressed my soul.
The Spa also provides manicures, pedicures and facials so you can make sure you leave the island as your best rejuvenated self.
In addition to the spa, you will also find many inviting spaces alongside the property (www.calabashcove.com/resort/) where you can relax and read or listen to music, gardens with beautiful walkways and the stunning Bonaire Bay just steps away from the resort. Bonaire Bay is a peaceful and serene cove with impressive views just a few miles away from the nightlife at Rodney Bay and the hustle and bustle of Castries.
UNESCO World Heritage
Time was flying and before I knew it, the last day of my trip had arrived. I spent it on a Catamaran sailing down the west coast of St. Lucia.
The tour was the perfect ending to a perfect trip. It took me all the way down to the Pitons, an UNESCO world heritage site and one of St. Lucia’s main attractions. Gros Piton and Petit Piton, the twin peaks that sit on St Lucia’s southwest coast were formed by a volcanic eruption approximately 30 million years ago. It’s possible to hike up the peaks – a strenuous endeavour that I passed on this time around.
On the way down the coast we stopped for a little snorkel excursion, where I drank more salt water than recommended for a salt water detox; visited a former coffee plantation, where I’ve got to try delicious fresh cacao beans; got wet under a beautiful waterfall and went bathing in a muddy and hot volcanic spring. The mud bath was an incredible experience, right after I cleaned up my skin appeared to be more soft and soothed, I felt more alive and connected to nature (literally) and my mental and emotional body were at peace.
One of my favourite sightings on the tour was Marigot Bay. It is said to be the most beautiful bay in the Caribbean. I haven’t seen all the bays there but am inclined to agree. We only passed through to pick up a few more passengers to take on the tour with us but from what I saw it seemed to be the perfect place to have a drink and watch the world go by – the ultimate Caribbean feeling.
Fun fact: From here a water taxi can take you the short hop over to the beach famous as the film location for the 1960’s movie Dr Doolittle.
All in all, the trip to St. Lucia and my stay at Calabash Cove felt like the perfect getaway and almost like a home away from home. The staff was genuinely friendly, the food absolutely delightful, the bed incredibly comfortable, the views left you speechless and the spa treatments were the cherry on top of it all.
To experience Calabash Cove St. Lucia yourself check www.calabashcove.com
For more reviews visit www.rickhay.co.uk