The Caribbean has long been seen as a destination for those in search of sun, sea and sand yet, as “the luxury’s” Gernot Mueller discovers, St. Lucia is hiding so much more.

The aerial view of St. Lucia as you fly into Hewanorra is stunning but unexpected. This is my first visit to the Caribbean and my perception of the region has always been guided by desktop screensavers promising golden sands and crystal clear blue waters. The vision I am greeted with affords a different colour palette altogether, however, with the deep blue ocean greeted by a sea of lush green rainforest which blankets the island.

St. Lucia is a tropical paradise of great depth. Blessed with an abundance of natural wonders the adventurous traveller can explore the rainforest, Atlantic and Caribbean oceans and all their wonders, the active Soufriere Volcano and everything that geothermal activity results in — hot springs to bathe in and dark-sand beaches, right through to the iconic dual cones which are so ubiquitous to St. Lucia — The Pitons.

Another such wonder is Marigot Bay. Once described by American author James A. Michener as the “the Caribbean’s most beautiful bay”, it’s easy to see the allure. Positioned on the west coast of the island, Marigot Bay’s beauty owes much to the impressive palm tree-lined hills that surround it and create an oasis of calm within its confines.

These hills also provide a practical purpose. The bay’s waters are 0,3m deep in places and the natural ‘S’ shape of the hills diminish winds to a third of their strength, making Marigot Bay a ‘hurricane hole’ and safe haven for luxury yachts visiting the region.

Just as alluring as the tranquil nature of the bay is the ubiquitous Marigot Bay Marina and Resort by Capella. Perched overlooking the bay, the hotel makes for an impressive sight from the water and up close it doesn’t disappoint either.

From the balcony of my suite I can make out a superyacht lying idle in the bay below, the glistening infinity pool sparkling in the St. Lucian sun and the manicured gardens which surround the resort’s pathways. The interior of the suite hides equally exciting delights. Spacious enough for a family, it boasts a fully functional kitchen, a luxurious lounge area and a four-poster bed in a glamorously decorated bedroom.

While I doubt a guest has ever used the kitchen for anything other than a drink from the fridge, the hotel does offer in-suite dining, which is a truly exquisite experience for which you are joined by a chef, sous-chef and waiter. The chef (who will most-likely be award-winning) will craft a menu to your taste and the meal will be prepared in front of you.

The experience is brilliantly luxurious, convenient and fun. The food is also sublime, crafted exquisitely to suit your taste and whilst it’s tempting to take every meal in your suite, you won’t have to stray far for truly dazzling culinary delights.

Marigot Bay Marina and Resort has a number of choice restaurants which all utilise locally sourced ingredients, from the Brut Bar’s sumptuous offering of sushi and the Rum Cave’s eclectic menu through to the Grill where diners can select and view the preparation of their meals which might include everything from freshly caught fish through to duck confit or a chateaubriand.

The rum cave, as the name suggests, plays host to expert rum tasting which is an absolute must if you are visiting St. Lucia. It’s easy to get a little carried away drinking the sumptuous ultra-premium rums from the island such as Chairman’s Reserve’s exquisite Admiral Rodney and 1931. You will taste them neat and savour every drop; for these tipples will make even the most ardent Whisky purists swoon.

Be sure to go easy, however, on the local brews such as Denros. It’s enough to make even the hardiest of taste buds shrink in despair and will make it difficult for you to leave the rum cave without looking like Bambi navigating an ice rink.

Hangover or not, you must venture out of Marigot Bay’s cosy confines to discover St. Lucia’s raw and unprocessed prowess.

Take a boat trip to Soufriere, you will know when you are near for the Pitons will appear before you — vast and glorious.

Adventurous souls may want to climb the Pitons but my path took me to the Soufriere Volcano where the sulphurous air and provocatively bubbling crater alludes to the precarious nature of the St. Lucian paradise. The trip to Soufriere could, and should, be made further sobering still by a trip to an old plantation to view, appreciate and mourn the history of a nation that suffered the affliction of slavery.

As you venture through St. Lucia’s jungle-clad hills you will discover a fertile land with a garden of eden-esque richness. Cocoa, mango, papaya, vanilla, cinnamon, cashew, guava, pineapple, coconut and countless more grows naturally under the canopy and roadside in St. Lucia. Our guide, a Rastafarian named Jahrod of St. Lucia Eco Adventures, patiently pointed each out to us during the day in Soufriere.

If you take a tour with Jahrod during your stay and make sure you visit the Sapphire Falls. Harnessing the warm waters emanating from the volcano, Jahrod and his brother have created a luscious jungle spa where guests can slather themselves in nutrient-rich mud and be cleansed underneath a warm waterfall before relaxing in a pool. It’s a nourishing experience for the body, spirit and soul and the perfect antidote for weary feet after a long day of exploration.

Whilst in St. Lucia, you must explore the ocean. The waters surrounding the island are an oasis for scuba diving, snorkeIIing, whale watching and deep sea fishing. If such exertions don’t appeal, then ask your personal assistant at Marigot Bay Marina and Resort to help you arrange a sunset cruise with canapés and champagne galore; it’s not a bad way to discover the ocean either

There is an abundance of eclectic activities to enjoy during your stay, not in the least those provided by the hotel but one of my personal favourites was another trip into the jungle for a zip lining experience with Rainforest Adventures. Guests can enjoy a serene aerial tram up into the rainforest, zip lining and bird watching. During all of which expert guides can talk you through the jungle and its many blessings.

A thousand words in and yet to mention a beach, such is the rich variety of activities available to the luxury traveller in St. Lucia. That said a short boat trip from the resort will take you to the bay’s beach which is a small but relaxed strip of land looking out to the ocean. Take the opportunity to grab a guide, rent a kayak and paddle from the bay to the ocean to its tributary river. Stop on the dark-sand beach that intersects the two and take a mindful moment to take it all in.

Our guide delivered fresh guava and coconuts to drink as we rested after the exertions of the kayak, and although St. Lucia may be so much more than just sun, sea and sand, the opportunity to enjoy such things completes a truly luxury experience in one of the world’s most beautiful natural paradises.

The wonder of St. Lucia is how such a small island can cater to so many tastes. From those seeking soulful relaxation and impeccable luxuries through to thrill-seeking adventurers and beach bums, from families to couples looking for a romantic hideaway, St. Lucia has something to offer everyone and, as such, it should be cemented on your bucket list.

One thing’s for sure, whether you seek luxury, adventure or delightful cuisine, Capella Marigot Bay Resort is the place from which to experience it all.

Marigot Bay Marina and Resort by Capella — Where & How

Marigot Bay Marina and Resort by Capella I PO Box 7227 I Marigot Bay I Saint Lucia
General Inquiries: +1 758 458 5300
Reservations: +1 321 821 0798
Email: res.marigotbay@capelIahotels.com
www.capellahotels.com