I’d listened to married friends enthuse for years about their dream Caribbean holiday, but immediately dismissed it as pure ‘coupledom’ and a single person’s nightmare.
Europe was just too easy – a shorter plane journey, great weather and food, but after a few disappointing French trips, weather-wise, and in need of a no-holds-barred beach holiday, I was persuaded that a retreat at Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort and Spa in St Lucia, was the answer.
St Lucia is located in the West Indies lying between the east coast of America and the north coast of South America. The island is said to resemble a mango and is very compact – 27 miles long and 14 miles wide – and is famous for its combination of high mountains, forest, beaches and lush scenery, making it an ideal destination to sunbathe and explore.
Windjammer Landing is a 60-acre resort, and takes about an hour, depending on the traffic, from Hewannora International Airport. It is patterned after the picturesque villages of the Mediterranean, with white villas spread out over the resort among exotic and flowering acres set on a lush oceanfront hillside. Perfectly situated, the resort overlooks the white sands and calm cobalt blue waters of Labrelotte Bay, and is five miles from St Lucia’s capital city, Castries.
A smooth eight-hour flight from London, and 75-minute air-conditioned taxi drive later, we arrived to icy cool rum cocktails and our cases being whisked away in the shuttle bus to our ‘Hibiscus suites’ apartment. ‘Hibiscus’, located low on the hills of the resort, combines tropical elegance with a calming décor and has all you could ask for: spectacular views of the Caribbean sea, a few minutes’ walk to restaurants, pools and the beach, and your own private jacuzzi set in a large, private terrace for dining or relaxing. The modern comfortable interior is spotless, and with a fully equipped kitchen including a welcome pack of coffee, tea, water and fruit, and housekeeping every day, you really have a sense of getting away from it all.
As it’s so close to America, only a three-hour flight from Miami, I expected an influx of Americans but they only accounted for half the residents, the remainder were mostly Londoners on a week’s break. A nice surprise was the ratio of families and groups of friends, to couples. We had a friendly Indian family of three generations in the next apartment, a mother and her daughters below us, a few groups of girlfriends, larger groups of grown-up families, and the rest couples.
One of the highlights of the week, and a great way to get to know the other residents, is at the Manager’s Cocktail Night. Champagne, rum cocktails and canapés are free-flowing while you view local wooden crafts and jewellery, all enlivened by a local group playing and swaying to the Caribbean beat. Staff dress-up in national dress as well as model beach-wear from the onsite boutique, while encouraging residents to wear a head-dress, join the party, and rhumba their way to dinner – or for those who have had one to many cocktails – to the all-age dance competition.
Families are well catered for at Windjammer, and it is well known as an ideal spot for family vacations. As well as the Jacquot Fun Club for children, it offers a babysitting and nanny service, a programme where teenagers and adults do activities together, two children’s pools, a kids playground, and specially designed menus. However, if you are child-free and want to enjoy listening to the lap of waves as opposed to shrieking kids, then I can personally vouch that September as a perfect time to go.
Even though September is one of the quieter months in Windjammer, all five restaurants are open, and offer a good choice: Italian at Papa Don’s, bistro food at Jammers, fine dining at Dragonfly – a fusion of Caribbean, European and Asian and slightly more formal atmosphere, Embers is great for lunch on the beach, and, Upper Deck, with its alfresco dining, stunning ocean views and fresh catch of the day, became our regular evening haunt. Not normally a great lover of fish, the freshly cooked spice encrusted tuna with corn and pumpkin converted me, and to be honest, I enjoyed every meal during the stay – always freshly cooked using fresh local ingredients, the dishes were cleverly thought out, and each restaurant provided excellent service.
If you are an adrenalin junkie and can’t sit or even lie long enough to sunbathe, there is plenty to while away the day. Located on the private crescent-shaped white-sand beach within the Windjammer Resort, you have a good range of complementary water sports: kayaking, snorkelling, windsurfing and banana rides, and also a small but well-equipped air conditioned gym looking onto the Caribbean sea, open from 6am. There are two complimentary flood-lit Astroturf tennis courts for comfortable day and evening play, and if you want lessons there is the resident tennis pro at around £30 an hour.
Unlike some, the most energetic thing I planned to do during my stay was meander the few minutes through quaint red brick paths, and exotic plants and birds, to my favourite places: the beach, the restaurants and the Spa.
The Serenity Spa equipped with a eucalyptus steam room, a deluxe massaging pedicure chair, a treatment room overlooking a tropical garden and a state-of-the-art wet room with a Vichy Shower. The spa extends to a private pool area featuring a Jacuzzi and outdoor shower where poolside pedicures and massages are possible; alternatively guests can choose to enjoy their massage on the beach or in their villa. But I was feeling energetic, and walked the few minutes to the compact but hiving Spa, for my Marine Elements Facial.
I’m glad I finally relented, because although the Caribbean is synonymous with honeymooners, it offers much more than just a romantic getaway. Regardless of your marital status, Windjammer Landing is the perfect resort to experience the unique rhythm of Caribbean life: birds eating out of your hands, getting to know the courteous, shy locals, watching dramatic jewel-coated hummingbirds speedily feed on exotic lilies and African tulips, listening to an on-the-dot dusk chorus of crickets, falling asleep at the sound of the lapping waves, or just gazing into a mesmerising palette of blue sky and sea: aquamarine, indigo, sapphire, and creamy sand fusing in front of me.
An older couple staying at the Resort, also Caribbean virgins, sum up its ‘one of a kind’ charm: ‘every day we say we must do something, but we just let it slid…’