On our drive from the airport, we see palm trees and flowers, families fishing and playing soccer together, and colorful local shops. All radiate a unique, cheerful energy. We are in the Caribbean on our way to the beachfront Jade Mountain Resort in Saint Lucia.
October is National Creole Month, the celebration of the island’s dominant language and ethnicity. People are wearing colorful ethnic clothing for festivals going on throughout the island.
We have a certified personal butler, Teclus, for our stay! He escorts us to our room. We open the door and see a huge infinity pool and hot tub inside! There is no wall on the ocean side; we face an open-air balcony that looks out onto the Piton Mountains floating on the Caribbean Sea. The stone walls serve as a soundproof barrier between rooms and the balconies are positioned around the mountain so you would never know anyone else was there.
On the beach surrounded by palm trees, we enjoy a delicious meal of Creole-spiced chicken and sangria. As the sun sets, we notice a yoga class about to begin. However, we are not wearing the right clothes for it. So who do we call? Ghostbusters! Or even better, Teclus. We use the cell phone he gave us that dials straight through to him, and soon he arrives with the appropriate clothing. Our yoga instructor shows the class, and even my husband, the yoga virgin, how yoga can bring you to a calm, happy place that can be accessed whenever you need.
Later in the week, we tour Sulphur Springs, the world’s only drive-through volcano. It is thrilling to walk on the grounds of something with so much power, yet knowing the volcano has safely been dormant since its last eruption in the late 1900’s. Next stop is the Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens. Our tour guide entertains us with his knowledge of exotic flowers, rare fruits, and vegetable trees.
The next day we try kayaking. After a good workout paddling along, we are ready to relax. On a boat ride later on, we spend the time laughing, sipping local Piton beers, and meeting new couples from around the world. The boat docks at a special marine reserve, where we snorkel, seeing vibrant-colored fish around us.
That evening, we attend a rooftop cocktail party hosted by the resort. The resident manager kindly invites us to dinner after. My husband and I agree the beef Wellington in a chocolate sauce is the best steak we have ever eaten. We made a true connection with every waiter, instructor, and specialist we met. Teclus even came by to see if we needed anything when he was off his shifts. In just a few days, we felt like a part of the Jade Mountain family.
We start the next morning with mimosas and a relaxing couples massage. Later, we make our own chocolate in Jade Mountain’s chocolate lab! The resort hosts several chocolate-themed events during National Creole Month to recognize Saint Lucia’s unique brand of chocolate, made from its abundant cocoa trees. We attend a private session with one other couple, where the chefs show us how to make chocolate from cocoa beans.
With our newfound knowledge of chocolate, the sommelier gives us a private chocolate pairing before dinner. He presents five different chocolate bars with various cocoa concentrations and toppings, and expertly pairs each with a different liqueur.
For our last night, we attend a dinner party on the beach, hosted under a tiki hut with a live Caribbean band. The menu has everything from steak to pasta to jambalaya. We even meet the resort chef, who tells us the diverse visitors on the island are his inspiration for such a wide range of dishes.
We wake up early the morning of our departure for a rooftop yoga session. “Find your happy place,” our instructor tells us as we move into each pose. That intimate place seems easier to find than before. We get back to our room to watch the sunrise from our balcony one more time. “I don’t want to leave this place,” I tell my husband. He looks at me, takes my hand, and says, “We don’t have to. This is our new happy place.” — Rejena Carmichael