from New York
Submitted on 11-24-2016
This place is spectacular and by far the best overall resort on the island. Without sounding pretentious, but trying to provide some perspective, we've stayed in 5 star resorts and hotels all over the Caribbean and Sugar Beach can hold its own to all of them. We read through a bunch of reviews before traveling, and while we normally do not write reviews felt the strong need to point out a handful of clarifications that we hope are useful for those trying to determine whether to stay here and m...
This place is spectacular and by far the best overall resort on the island. Without sounding pretentious, but trying to provide some perspective, we've stayed in 5 star resorts and hotels all over the Caribbean and Sugar Beach can hold its own to all of them. We read through a bunch of reviews before traveling, and while we normally do not write reviews felt the strong need to point out a handful of clarifications that we hope are useful for those trying to determine whether to stay here and make your trip more enjoyable:
-as other reviewers have commented, the island is a rainforest and extremely tropical, the "Tahiti of the Caribbean". The local soil is volcanic and excellent for growing so lots of fresh mango, passionfruit, grapefruit and vegetables. Many other islands in he Caribbean have to import their fruits and vegetables. The fresh produce and fruits, incredible vistas, and corresponding amazing French creole food was one of the reasons we decided on the island. The flip side is that rain comes and goes often as we were there in early November at the tail end of the rainy season. You may get some clouds and rain during your stay but it clears quickly
-as others have highlighted, the roads are windy and narrow, driving is on the left and steering wheel right for us non-brits, and not for the faint of heart. We decided to rent a car which worked out great for us once we got used to the little car and left side driving. This is a great way to save $$$$ on taxis for those who like a little adventure. As others have pointed out, (and similar with other Caribbean islands like Bermuda, anguilla, etc) taxis charge exorbitant amounts for quick 10 minute rides. Get a Jeep like vehicle if you do rent which will be about $50/day.
-the road to the hotel is steep but paved and fine for driving. It's about 10 minutes up to the main highway from the beach. Contrastingly, as others have commented, the "road" to jade mountain is more like a backwater dirt path that has to be driven at about 5mph (and 15 min back and forth) given potholes galore. Fun for us in the SUV to visit for lunch but would be very annoying if we stayed at that hotel.
-get out and explore the mud baths, local market on Saturday, and natural "fountains of youth". These were highlights for our trip and very unique experiences. Get there early before the cruise ships arrive later in the day, which is what the locals do. Ask the concierge as the schedules are public.
-my wife was a bit surprised by the living conditions in the island. st Lucia is an emerging market, relatively poor by first world standards with average wages at the good hotels of a few dollars per hour. Similar living conditions to Mexico, Brazil, PR, DR, etc. However, the island felt safe for us and the people were friendly and welcoming of tourists, especially when we engaged them and went to the markets and local places outside of the hotel. Staff at the hotel are incredibly warm and friendly - it is the best job on the island and pays double or triple from the other hotels. Many others have commented on how great the people are at the resort and we concur.
As has largely been espoused in prior reviews, the hotel is truly first class with new facilities, a great old world platation mixed with modern upgrades. The owner was the business manager for The Rolling Stones and it is, of course, rock-star worthy. A few things worth noting:
-we stayed in a ocean view villa in the 700s which we highly recommend. They are spectacular with private pools, vaulted ceilings, private backyards with outdoor shower and plunge pools. You get more real estate than your average Nyc or London apartment, not to mention all come with elevated ocean views
-We started in the entry level sugar mill room which while right next door to the main hotel, pool and beach, was a bit small, dark and was next in line for refurbishment. While not terrible by any means, a major juxtaposition between sugar mill and the villas on the hill. Ask for an upgrade if the hotel isn't full, we got one.
-we had no issues with the tuk tuk transportation and found them quick, fun and efficient
-as others have pointed out the butlers are alsways close by and can help with everything. The resort provides little cell phones to use so it's very easy to get a ride when needed or request anything. No need to tip every time but never hurts to take care of those providing good service
-fitness program was great - definitely try a class as trainers are no joke. Expect to be sore if you are overzealous and out of shape like me
-we had no issues with crowding on the beach, getting a chair, cruise ship snorkelers, etc. Note we went during an off peak week and could see how the hotel and beach could really fill up during holidays, although this is largely unavoidable at any resort over Christmas and New Years. If this is a concern book a residence or villa off resort
-mostly couples during our stay, some young toddlers and a handful of young kids on break from Europe. Things were very quiet, uncrowded and calm.
-the bottom line is that the food at the resort, in our opinion, was absolutely spectacular and can compete with st Barths and Anguilla for quality
-Cane bar was our first night and didn't disappoint. Local fish sushi was uber-fresh, drinks excellent, and the pool table, Dj (every Thur) and killer sound system made it for a very cool vibe.
-Friday evening we had the beach BBQ. It was unbelievable. Fresh sushi, make your own ceviche, lots of fish, local meat, desserts galore. It's right next to the beach and a local reggae band was rockin'. Probably the best buffet we have ever had. We should have taken a picture as it's hard to put in words.
-we also strongly suggest dinner (or lunch) at jade mountain(20 min), hotel chocolate(10 min) and ladera (10 min). Ladera and jade mountain have insane views, and as others have mentioned, get there for sunset or lunch to be blown away by the view. These were meals we will never forget given the unbelievable vistas and food. The concierge can get menus ahead of time and make reservations for you.
-if you are debating between the meal plan, ask for the menus (including drinks) in advance of your trip and make your own determination whether it will be worth it. You can also sign up for it mid trip. We did not do the meal and drink plan because we wanted to explore the island and eat at other restaurants, but it seemed like most items were included (with minimal up charges) along with top quality hand crafted mixed drinks, martinis, mojitos etc all with fresh ingredients. We probably would have saved money should we have only eaten on property. If you are interested in eating and drinking well and don't want to venture off property, it probably makes a lot of sense to get the meal plan.
-some folks complained about service. We had no issues what-so-ever, but could be because we were in the off season. Keep in mind the Caribbean lifestyle is generally slower and more relaxed, "mon". Grab a drink, chill out and enjoy the vista. You are on vacation, what's the rush?
-much has been mentioned about the price of the food, which is a bit perplexing to us. Food in the Caribbean is always expensive given many items need to be air shipped in. If you are staying at a 5 star resort, you should expect to pay 5 star prices. If you want value, stay at an airbnb and try the local restaurants not in the hotels. For us, the quality was excellent with great local fish, indo-Carib spices and "farm to table" veggies and fruits and and therefore we were perfectly content paying. If still concerned, call the hotel and ask for menus with prices beforehand or get the meal plan so you can budget.
-bring ones for tipping. Usd is widely accepted on island
-as expected for a top tier resort, spa is awesome. It is set in the rainforest and built out of local wood and some rooms are over a natural waterfall. Be advised you may encounter some local creatures as you are in the jungle
-beach is incredible with mountain views in a world heritage site. But, as many have pointed out the sand on the island is darker, therefore if you are looking for long, white sandy beaches try Anguilla, Virgin Islands, Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, etc. They import the sand at sugar beach. It was white and beautiful and water is calm and great for swimming and water sports given the sheltered cove
-we did not have time for hiking but it is supposed to be world class up the neighboring pitons
-water sports are top notch with great paddle boards, kayaks, hobie cats, etc.
If you want to chill out with a cold drink in hand, Sugar beach is a top resort at a remote, tropical, worldclass location, that, in our humble opinion, will not disappoint even the savviest of travelers.