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(2011 - Spring Issue)

Writer: Donna S. Vieira

We’re visiting the mountainous Caribbean island of St. Lucia and it’s difficult to imagine that only a short time ago Hurricane Tomas ravaged this verdant isle. At every turn, I see the scars Mother Nature has left behind. Mountainsides reveal barren earth patches where lush tropical vegetation once grew. High winds and torrential rain were bad enough but it was the mudslides that did the most damage.

In spite of the devastation and loss of lives, the resourceful St. Lucians cranked up their radios to find solace in their favourite Western songs and got down to the business of cleaning up. I ask how they are managing and the response is always the same. “We are fine,” they say softly with a smile, “thank you for asking,” then quietly resume their business ensuring everyone is having a good time. I am humbled by their courage and resilience in the face of such tragedy.

Mountainside Retreat

My husband and I are staying at Jade Mountain, an exquisite hideaway overlooking the Caribbean Sea just a few minutes’ drive from the town of Soufrière. Rising majestically above the 243-hectare beachfront resort of Anse Chastanet, Jade Mountain is the new, bold architectural wonder conceptualized and designed by the very imaginative and fearless Canadian architect Nick Troubetzkoy.

At first glance, I am spellbound by the construction. It’s an intriguing marriage of age-old materials and futuristic ideas. The organic stone structure almost reminds me of the Flintstones era while individual bridges spanning the grand open spaces bring up memories of the space-age Jetsons. Everywhere, staircases are flanked by vine-covered stone walls, koi ponds and waterfalls. Rugged stone-faced columns, topped by colourful modern glass sculptures, reach skyward. I’m overwhelmed and I haven’t stepped into our sanctuary yet.

As the door to our techno-free suite opens, we are met with grand sweeping views of the renowned Pitons and the Caribbean Sea below. I feel like I’ve just walked onto a stage and nature is my audience. An extravagant private infinity pool is the centrepiece. A canopy king-size bed draped in gossamer mosquito netting billowing in the ever-present breeze occupies one side and dining and lounging areas are on the other. The fourth wall is entirely absent. Three butlers will tend to our every need throughout our stay.

Ours is one of 29 guest suites, 24 of which feature infinity pools. Each pool and whirlpool tub is outfitted with chromotherapy lights. All furnishings and hardwood flooring are made locally from 20 different species of tropical wood harvested in an environmentally correct way and imported from Guyana. Bathroom floors as well as those exposed to weather and interior walls are constructed of coral stone quarried in Barbados. And shower stalls and pools are lined with handmade iridescent recycled glass tiles, the mold for which has been destroyed to ensure they remain unique to this property.

Resident guests have a choice of dining at any of the restaurants at Anse Chastanet or at the exclusive Jade Mountain Club, which wraps around an infinity pool with a dazzling kaleidoscope of colours. Most of the produce for the vegetarian menu served here comes from the resort’s organic farm. Butlers can also arrange private candlelit beach dinners for two or intimate dinners on the Celestial Terrace. Of course, we’re always free to dine in our sanctuary anytime.

Hovering in the space above the Jade Mountain Club, the Celestial Terrace is the perfect spot for sunset cocktails, stargazing or wedding ceremonies.

Activity Breaks

There are plenty of activities available on and off the property to keep us busy. Fitness training sessions are scheduled regularly throughout the day and complimentary yoga classes are offered five days a week. Other resort activities include half-day sailing excursions, sunset cruises, escorted snorkelling trips, kayaking, mountain biking at Anse Mamin, guided walks and hikes, scuba diving and more. Guests can prepare their own lunch in the kitchen at Chef Jonathan’s Wednesday Cooking Class. Off-resort, there are volcano and grand coastal tours, whale-watching expeditions, duty-free shopping trips, a Gros Piton climb, deep-sea fishing, a tour of the Grenadines and others.

One of St. Lucia’s newest adventures is a zip-lining and canopy tour, which takes us to the east coast into the heart of the rainforest at the beautiful 300-year-old Errard Estate. Upon arrival, we are briefed on safety and outfitted with harnesses, helmets and gloves. We then take an aerial tram ride, which transports us to our zip-lining platform high above the rainforest canopy. On our downward journey, we traverse a series of nine platforms, the longest run being 213 metres with an 18-metre drop.

Back at Jade Mountain, I’ve booked a soothing massage in my sanctuary. Serenaded by a chorus of crickets, I relax as warm breezes caress my tired body. A full moon hovers above. All of nature seems to be rejoicing our return to St. Lucia and Anse Chastanet. Now Jade Mountain joins our list of not-to-be-missed experiences. St. Lucia is healing and so am I.

Travel Planner

Since it opened in 2006, Jade Mountain has received a stream of awards, among which include “Most Excellent Romantic Hideaway” from Condé Nast Johansens and “Resort With the Best View” from Caribbean Travel & Life magazine. 

The Saint Lucia Jazz Festival (stluciajazz.org) takes place from April 30 to May 8. This year’s lineup includes six-time Grammy winner John Legend, Ledisi, Regina Carter and many more.

For more information, visit:

St. Lucia Tourist Board: stlucia.org

Jade Mountain at Anse Chastanet: jademountainstlucia.com

Rainforest Adventures St. Lucia: rainforestadventure.com

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