A travel piece with a literary twist . . . it must be the weekend . . .
One of St Lucia’s most famous poetic sons, Derek Walcott, describes his home and surrounds as one where ‘visual surprise (which) is natural in the Caribbean; comes with the landscape, and faced with its beauty, the sigh of history dissolves’, Peter Devine reports for the Manchester Evening News.
And if this particular ‘sigh’, Walcott is speaking of, which presumably dates back to days of slavery on the island and the constant bloody battles between the British and the French, as to who would rule and eventually rule this Commonwealth paradise, were applied to modern day St Lucia, it is easy to understand why the beauty of this island counts for so much.
We arrive in the south of the island and take the 17-mile journey from the airport to our hotel close to the island’s capital, Castries, in the north at Smugglers’ Cove resort and spa.
Set in 45 acres, this 357-room village-style resort offers an all inclusive opportunity for families, wedding couples and those visitors wanting to relax and have fun among its stunningly beautiful gardens and beach, which is lapped by the warm waters of the Caribbean.
I was staying in a spacious air conditioned apartment which included a king sized bed, with TV and large bathroom with both a shower and a plunge bath. The outdoor patio, was situated just a hop and a skip from the beach and, more invitingly, the turquoise waters of this secluded bay.
Once settled in, the opportunity for seclusion and yet living the high life run unashamedly hand-in-hand with a delightful dinner at the Waterside Grill. The options to drink and to eat seemed endless, with five bars and four gourmet restaurants cooking a wide choice of fine dining cuisine from Italian, Creole, seafood to international buffet cuisine, and Asian, while I am able to rely on plenty of vegetarians options.
Getting into relaxation mode, Smuggler’s Cove has seven swimming pools to choose from, (two reserved for people over 16) and the Oasis water park pool with 100ft waterslide and whirlpool.
Add to that water skiing, canoeing, kayaks, snorkelling and windsurfing. Then back on dry land, there is a racquet club with seven floodlit tennis courts, squash court, archery, fitness gym, beach volleyball, table tennis bike hire, golf and fitness classes including yoga, pilates and T’ai Chi. And to round it all off there is a variety of pampering treatments available including spa and massage to help ease away those aches and pains
Those needing time to share the joys of the resort with their other halves can leave the youngsters at the supervised kids’ club. It provides fun and adventure with an array of activities and it even has its own life size fort.
One of the best ways of getting to know an island such as St Lucia is to book on to one of the many trips, including to its annual two-week jazz festival, which was first established in 1992, and has become a must see event. I went to the main part of the event at Pigeon Island, which was headlined this year by Diana Ross, Toni Braxton and South African musician Hugh Masekela.
The audience generally sits on the sloping ground down to the main stage, and for the visitor, it offers one of the best opportunities to mix with islanders and taste some excellent Creole food.
The fringe events include the nearby Fire Grill, which hosts some of the world’s best jazz musicians in laid back sessions which envelop both the audience and groups, such as Carl Gustave Band.
It’s no surprise that some of the rich and the famous have made their homes in this part of the island. They include actor Nicholas Cage and Russian classical music conductor Vladimir Ashkanazy.
Taking a boat from Castries down to the port of Soufriere, opened up yet another spectacular sight with the Gros Piton mountain rising up out of the sea to a height of more than 2,600 ft.
On the return leg of our trip, the boat dropped anchor at one of the island’s many secluded bays, where were able to snorkel and swim in its warm waters, before enjoying evening cocktails and a dance aboard.
And with my sense of adventure still undiminished, I took to the skies, so to speak, with a spectacular nine-rope zip wire through the rainforest. The experience left me both elated and an additional 50ft drop by rope left me wanting more.
And when it was time to leave, I brought Walcott to mind; and felt another sigh, this time of sadness, at the thought of leaving a place one definitely might describe as heaven on earth.
Seven nights at the four-star Smugglers Cove Resort & Spa with Virgin Holidays starts from £949pp. This price is based on two adults sharing a standard room on an all-inclusive basis and includes scheduled flights with Virgin Atlantic from London Gatwick to St Lucia, transfers, all taxes and surcharges, which are subject to change. Price based on departures on September 11.
To book visit www.virginholidays.co.uk/smugglers or call 0844 557 3859.
For further information go to www.smugglersresort.com and www.saintlucianow.co.uk.
For information on St Lucia Jazz visit www.stluciajazz.org. All excursions are bookable through the hotel.
For the zip wire go to www.rainforestadventure.com
Peter also stayed at the four-star Gatwick Arora hotel including eight days’ Meet and Greet car parking from just £98. To book visit to www.holidayextras.com or call 0800 1313 777. He also used the v-room lounge at Gatwick Airport which costs £20 adults and £12 children.
For the original report go to http://menmedia.co.uk/manchestereveningnews/life_and_style/holidays/s/1582859_tropical-island-poetry-on-st-lucia