Submitted on 01-12-2017
The drive from UVF airport to Morgan Bay is about an hour and 15 minutes. It seems like most hotels are located on the carribbean side of the island so a lengthy drive should be no surprise upon arrival. There are many taxis at the airport that will drive you to the Castries area for about $70-80, but I booked a van in advance from PHV Tours for $70 even that was easy and fun. You can arrange to have the resort pick you up from the airport too, but it is expensive and priced per person....
The drive from UVF airport to Morgan Bay is about an hour and 15 minutes. It seems like most hotels are located on the carribbean side of the island so a lengthy drive should be no surprise upon arrival. There are many taxis at the airport that will drive you to the Castries area for about $70-80, but I booked a van in advance from PHV Tours for $70 even that was easy and fun. You can arrange to have the resort pick you up from the airport too, but it is expensive and priced per person.
It took about 15 minutes from the time we pulled up at the hotel to the time we walked in to our room. Check in was very efficient and simple and the staff that greeted us was delightful. The glass of rum punch upon arrival was much appreciated!
We decided to go with a standard ocean view room with a king sized bed. The room was spacious, bright, comfortable, and clean. Our view from the room and balcony was spectacular. We were on the top floor of the 200 building on the south side of the resort near the tennis courts and Plum Tree Grill and Bar. Because we were on the top floor, we had a vaulted ceiling, which made the room feel extra spacious. Although not recently renovated, we were not disappointed by the quality of the furniture or size of the television. We slept well and enjoyed a program or two before bed or in the morning when we were feeling especially lazy. The shower had adequate pressure and the water was plenty hot. At first it appeared there were only British outlets, but we were happy to find a power strip with American plugs behind the desk. A couple things for improvement include new lampshades as ours were pretty dirty, some paper and pens to jot down information as necessary, and a corkscrew to open wine or beer bottles brought or ordered to the room.
Morgan Bay has a really nice beach with very fine, soft sand that slopes gradually into the water and is sandy as far as you can walk out. Other beaches on the island, including sugar beach, have coarse sand, get deep very quickly, and have underwater vegetation growing within 15 feet of the shoreline. Others have complained the water in Morgan Bay is dirty or of a lesser quality than other beaches, but this is not the case. The super fine sand mixes with the water as waves gently crash on the shore giving the appearance of light brown water, but this is only for the first three to five feet of water and is truly only due to the sand. It is less apparent when other guests aren't walking in the shallow water and when the water is calm. The water is more clear and blue as you walk farther out. The roped off swimming area was perfect for wading or a float to cool off. The other side near the water sports area was very active with different types of watercraft coming in and out and not safe for swimming. For those who enjoy long walks on the beach, you won't find that here, but I don't think you'll find it anywhere on St. Lucia as few, if any, of the beaches are long enough for more than a quick stroll. The size of the beach is adequate for the number of guests at the resort and there are plenty of lounge chairs, umbrellas, tables, and towels for everyone. The red flags provided to call bar runners over for drink orders was fantastic. Although it sometimes took a while because they were busy at all times, it was very easy and convenient.
There are four pools on the property: an adult pool with a swim up bar in the center of the resort, a family and activities pool in the center of the resort, an adult hillside pool and bar overlooking the bay from the north side of the resort, and a kids pool by the Plum Tree Grill and Bar on the south side of the resort. We spent more time on the beach than at the pools but we did enjoy the adult hillside pool at sunset and the adult pool with swim up bar when it wasn't too crowded, which was rare. The family and activities pool in the center of the resort was often hosting pool volleyball, fitness classes, or kids playing so we never used it. We didn't go in the kids pool either but spent time at the Plum Tree Grill and Bar beside it and thought it looked like a good spot for young kids because it was never crowded and has two slides. None of the pools are particularly large. They start to feel crowded when more than ten people are in any one of them at any given time and warm up by the afternoon, so we preferred the beach. The pool decks, however, were expansive and hosted rows upon rows of the same comfortable lounge chairs as on the beach. By the central pools, there were also many patio tables and chairs with umbrellas.
Resort All-Inclusive Bars
There are several, well-stocked bars at the resort that open around lunch time - no morning mimosas. The Sunset Bar is a great place to grab a drink any time of day but especially at night when they have entertainment on the stage. The pool bar is often very busy, but the staff work very hard to take your order and service you as fast as possible. The adult swim up bar is typically packed but again the staff is extremely hard working - especially at happy hour in the late afternoon - so be patient! There's another full bar by the hill side adult pool that was never crowded and also a small one on the beach with beer and pre-mixed rum punch. Even if you're watching the kids at the Plum Tree pool you can get whatever drink you'd like. The cocktails are all tasty but consistently need an extra pour of alcohol. I recommend ordering an extra shot of rum, vodka, or whatever it is you need in your drink otherwise it will come super sweet. In the end, we were never left wanting for a drink and always felt well taken care of.
Resort All-Inclusive Restaurants
We tried all restaurants except the premium priced Le Jardin. We wish they focused more on local, island dishes as many of the international offerings were not very good. There was a huge variety of food but we found only the local dishes to be really tasty. We enjoyed having breakfast at The Palms (no res needed) and lunch at Bambou (no res needed unless its dinner) each day. Our favorite dinner spots were Morgan's Pier and Tree Tops by far. The menu and seafood at Morgan's Pier was most appealing and the food satisfied. The pizza at Tree Tops was excellent and very filling. The asian-fusion at Bambou was OK but not great. The Palms always has a themed buffet and plenty of variety, but was never good. The only decent dessert we had the entire trip was a warm chocolate cake/pudding dessert from The Palms. None of the other desserts were very sweet or had much flavor - empty calories. For a late afternoon lunch or snack, we loved swinging by the Plum Tree grill. It is quiet there and a great place to relax with a drink, burger, chicken sandwich, fries, popcorn, etc before going to your room to wash up after a long day on the beach. You DO have to book your dinner reservations when you arrive and you can only book each restaurant one time in advance. You can, however, check availability for the day of and if there is an opening, you can take it. I wish we had skipped dinner at The Palms completely and eaten more often at Morgan's Pier. They say you have to eat at the buffet your first night, but you should check availability at the reservations desk for your first night and try to eat somewhere else.
There are so many options for water sports here! Each morning you should go to the water sports shed and sign up for anything you'd like to do. Although there often is, don't expect there to be availability later in the day. Certain activities only happen on certain days at specific times too, so make sure you stop by the shed on your first day to familiarize yourself with the options and process - sailing, kayaking, water skiing, snorkeling, etc. The water sports staff is always helpful and happy to teach you how to sail if you'd like (free). The hobie cats are super easy to use and the wind was never too strong so we had a lot of fun going for a sail once or twice a day. Many resorts didn't have a fleet of sailboats for guest use without an additional charge - this was one of the main reasons we chose St. James Club and we were not disappointed! They had us on the water within hours of our arrival.
I regret not taking advantage of the excursions offered. We originally signed up for a full day sail with mud baths, snorkeling (which isn't great at St. Lucia btw), chocolate themed lunch, swimming, and a sunset cruise back to the resort but changed plans when we realized Joy's Cruises claimed to do the same activities for a cheaper price. Note: all the beaches on St. Lucia are public so outside vendors station themselves on the resort beach so you can book activities through them instead of Morgan's Bay. Joy or his son sit on the beach ready for you. The resort itself has many excursions available and I think the resort excursions are worth the extra money. The resort has a spacious catamaran and professional staff to take care of you. They take you out for the full day whereas Joy's cruises was very fast paced and came back shortly after lunch. In addition to a day sail, we decided to hike the piton, which was brutal but also a once-in-a-lifetime hike. You should be in very good shape if you are going to attempt the climb. It seems the resort charges an unreasonable amount for the excursion, but in reality it is fair. There is a substantial fee charged by the tourism board that maintains the piton trail and pays the guides you are required to take with you on your hike - that's where the bulk of the fee is going. You should also note that excursions are only available on specific days so you must plan ahead to ensure you schedule your days and restaurants correctly. The activities director is happy to help you prior to your arrival to make sure you have it all sorted out. You may want to stop by the excursions desk on your first day to settle your plans.
This is a family friendly resort. It is not adults only. That became unfortunately clear very early on in our stay. It seems like parents come here with the idea that it's a closed resort so their kids can do whatever they want unsupervised and they'll be fine. Unfortunately, that takes a toll on the other guests who do not want to be disturbed. One day on the beach, a kid picked up a dead fish off the beach and laid it across my wife's legs while we were sleeping. After she woke up and screamed, he ran off with the fish and then continued to play with it for a solid hour with his siblings. It was absolutely disgusting, his parents were no where in sight, and the staff did nothing to stop him.
We noticed that a lot of the guests at this resort did not tip appropriately, were rude to other guests, and were rude to staff. We often saw an attitude of entitlement among the guests that was very off putting. You're on vacation. Relax. Go with it and be kind to those serving you. All guests should tip $1-2 for drink service on the beach and $1-2 per person to wait staff at meals. Tip your bartenders generously and they'll take good care of you the rest of the day. Tip your excursion guides $10-15.
The resort has a dress code that is not complicated or unreasonable. Men are expected to wear collared shirts at dinner and non-athletic shorts. Women are expected to wear non-beachwear at dinner. That is all. Unfortunately management does not enforce this policy, which results in a lot of sloppy folks in nice restaurants that kill the premium resort vibe and make it seem more like cheap hotel. The resort should really take a hard stance on this policy and enforce it as it will help class up the dining experience instantly.
Since it was our honeymoon, a couple of friends ordered us a few bottles of wine to our room, which were delivered by staff when we were out and was a great surprise! It was odd, however, that there was no corkscrew in our room and there wasn't one delivered with the bottles (which cost over $200 in total if I remember correctly). When I called down to ask for a corkscrew they brought one up, but said we couldn't keep it so they had to open all bottles for us at once. We aren't sure if this is to prevent guests from bringing alcohol from off the property or what, but it was extremely odd and reasonably inconvenient. Bring your own corkscrew just in case!