At just 27 by 14 miles, St Lucia is by no means the largest island in the Caribbean, but it’s easily the best. I am biased, though. My father comes from St Lucia’s east coast. One of my earliest memories is of him returning to London with a suitcase stuffed with fresh mangoes wrapped in newspaper for my sister and me. As we grew older, we would accompany him on family trips and there was only one rule: we always travelled light. ‘Make way for the mango,’ my father would say. No supermarket mango could ever taste as good as those we picked in the grounds of our family cottage and smuggled home to England.
It’s been almost a decade since my last visit to St Lucia and I’m travelling back with my sister. This time we are staying at one of the finest hotels on the island — Jade Mountain, an architecturally audacious resort perched high on Morne Chastanet, overlooking the Caribbean. Jade Mountain does not have suites, it has ‘sanctuaries’, open-walled buildings which let in the warm breeze and the jaw-dropping views. To the east, we look out over our infinity pool; to the north, our view is of the twin peaks of the Pitons — St Lucia’s distinctive mountains. My sister, a lawyer, has always been hard to impress, but I can tell she is in awe of the place.
Jade Mountain doesn’t take itself too seriously, as some high-end resorts do. Our pool has two water pistols positioned on the edge. Their purpose is to help deter the Cuban finches from pecking at the pool water — and very useful they are too. After a dip, we have dinner with the hotel manager at the Jade Mountain Club. Conversation quickly turns to the state of the roads, a national obsession. On our family holidays my father would say that you needed to be a PhD (‘Pothole Driver’) to negotiate them. Sometimes we would take a little boat around the coast to avoid them altogether. St Lucia’s main highways have improved dramatically in the last ten years, so I tell the manager that I am surprised the road to Jade Mountain has not been tarmac’d. ‘The road to paradise is always a little bumpy,’ he replies, laughing.
Our father’s idea of a jolly holiday was to drive the length and breadth of St Lucia visiting distant relatives. My sister and I adopt a more relaxed approach. At Jade Mountain, we swim, we snorkel, we sip rum cocktails and admire the Pitons from different perspectives. We spend a morning at Emerald Farm, the resort’s organic garden, where fresh produce for the restaurant is grown. As Jonathan Dearden, the executive chef, proudly shows us rows of fresh herbs and fruit, I find myself wondering if the mangoes taste as good as those of my childhood. Later, I sample the sorbet and find that indeed they do.
Our idyllic week ends all too soon. On our way back to reality, the road from the resort seems even bumpier. As we jiggle about in the back, our driver turns around and asks with a smile, ‘Do you know why the road is so bad? Because it makes it harder for you to leave!’
BA offer seven nights at the five-star Jade Mountain, St Lucia from £3,223 per person. Prices includes return BA flights from Gatwick, seven nights’ accommodation and breakfast. For reservations visit ba.com/stlucia or call 0844 493 0758