by Michael Blanding
The Cap Maison resort on the beautiful volcanic island of St. Lucia may be best known for its starring role on the reality TV show “The Bachelor,” where it was once featured as the idyllic spot where bachelorettes were wooed in final episodes.
Despite the obviously high romance potential, however, the luxurious resort is equally welcoming to families, a departure from other top lodging options on the island. In fact, owners Theo and Helen Gobat themselves raised three sons on the island, and since opening the resort in 2008 have worked hard to make it particularly welcoming to families with children with an excellent mix of family-friendly accommodations and a range of outdoor activities for all ages.
St. Lucia has been called the most beautiful island in the Caribbean, a rollercoaster of “oohs” and “aahs” for its rainforest-shrouded volcanic mountains and inspiring ocean views. Cap Maison is located in the far north point of the island, near the main population center of Castries and the tourist Mecca of Rodney Bay. The location itself is a secluded spot on a former sugarcane plantation perched on cliffs above the ocean with an iconic view of the double-peaked Pigeon Island and a private beach located down a long stairway where sea crabs skitter and a water sports center rents sailboats, kickboards and snorkeling gear.
Enhancing the natural beauty is the design of the resort, modeled on a classic Mediterranean villa with a number of separate buildings, holding several suites on each level — 50 rooms in all. The rooms themselves are private, many of them enjoying their own plunge pools of various sizes, even while none is far from the central building which includes a small spa, game room and a separate restaurant and pool area boasting some of the best views on the island.
Our Editor Loves
- Private wading pool in suites
- Fully-equipped kitchen
- Private beach with boat rentals
- Water Sports
- Children Programs
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Game Room
- Kids' Pool
- Kids' Theme Meals
- Meal Plan
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
The resort offers a range of accommodations in a variety of sizes, including several levels of family suites.
The most economical, the junior suite, features a sitting area, and an outside verandah -- most suited for those with older children who will spend most of their time outside the room exploring the island.
The resort also offers two levels of ocean-view suites with private infinity plunge pools -- a godsend to families travelling with small children.
The deluxe pool suite features two levels of living space, complete with a larger pool with stunning views of the ocean far below.
Suites also come with a washer and dryer combo; come prepared with detergent, however, as the resort inexplicably does not supply its own. Also, keep in mind that the machines themselves are somewhat small and frankly, a bit weak in drying capability -- so they serve best for drying bathing suits and cleaning select items rather than doing large loads.
Slightly more spacious are the villa suites with Jacuzzi, which feature a two-level suite with both porch and verandah and an outdoor Jacuzzi on the top floor.
The "regular" villa suite with pool is a spacious suite with one, two or three bedrooms, kitchen and dining area, and living room, along with outdoor patio with pool, making it best for families with young children.
All villas come equipped with a full kitchen with refrigerator, stove and microwave; dining area; living room with flatscreen TV; and well-appointed bathrooms featuring hand-painted Spanish-style fixtures. Beds, it should go without saying, are soft and luxurious, and while each suite has lavish central A/C, it can be just as effective to open the slats on the French doors that line the walls of most rooms, and allow the sea breeze to supply its own natural cooling.
Note: A maximum of two children under 12 are included free in a separate bedroom, while kids under 2 are accommodated free with cribs. The resort does not allow more than 2 children per suite; nor does it let out rooms to families in suites with an upper floor, for reasons, which will become obvious when you arrive.
This was our first trip to the Caribbean and we chose St. Lucia. The next big decision was what resort to stay at. We chose Cap Maison as we were looking to relax in seclusion for a much needed break.
We booked an ocean view room and did the all inclusive option. We ate mostly at the resort restaurants and enjoyed drinks, and felt like it was worth the value.
We enjoyed the spa and I had one of the best massages I’ve ever had! We had a couples massage - they did a good job of taking care of each of our needs, while maintaining a quiet and relaxing room.
We reserved the Rock for a private dining experience like no other. We booked it for 5:00 and enjoyed the sunset and cocktails before a delicious dinner was served around 6:30. We stayed there for about four hours total, enjoying the waves at sunset and in the moonlight.
We also had an amazing time at the beach. Dunstin helped us with sea kayaks and taught us how to use the Hobie - get the lesson if you decide to do it! He’s very happy to help you with a variety of ocean activities or your can lounge enjoying fresh and delicious drinks and food from the Naked Fisherman (included in the all inclusive).
The highlight for us though was the friendly and kind staff, from Dunstin, to Darian taking care of our pool, to Allison, Cheryl and Tanicia serving us at the restaurant, to Julian our hiking guide....wonderful, warm people.
We will be back to this friendly place in paradise!
I really wanted to love this, but the rooms don't quite hit the mark for the price. They seem older than they are, and we had a couple of maintenance issues that never got resolved. The staff was also not on par with the service we received at other nice hotels. The grounds and view are gorgeous though, and we loved having our own private plunge pool. Of the hotels on that end of the island I'd probably still choose this one, but given a choice I'd much rather go back to the Sufriere area.
New for 2015, Cap Maison has added a kids' club that families will surely love. Children ages 3 to 11 can enjoy indoor and outdoor activities, movies, games and play areas, from July through September under the supervision of a full-time experienced staff member.
Families with small children could easily spend half of their time relaxing inside their suite. The layout makes it easy to dump the kids in the pool to splash blissfully around while mom and dad sun themselves on the private deck or fix drinks or dinner in the kitchen. The larger resort pool near the restaurant area has two tiers connected by a waterfall, making it also particularly fun for kids.
For older kids, the onsite beach is small but well-situated, down the cliff from the resort (making it easy to check on them with an occasional glance down from the ledge) in a shallow cove with its own water sports center and beachside bar. Water sports options are plentiful, including Hobie cat sailboats, kayaks, snorkeling and windsurfing equipment -- all of which are free for guest use -- and there is always an attentive staffer or two to help with the equipment or take guests out on the water for no additional charge.
Note to Parents: If leaving kids there unattended, you'll have to warn them against the (mostly harmless) beach vendors who may approach them to sell their wares.
The resort also has a 46-foot yacht available for charter sails to Martinique or down the West side of the island to the famous Pitons -- twin mountains rising gorgeously out of the sea -- though note that costs for the charter are high ($500/day), and you may find better rates on a smaller boat through a travel agency in town or by negotiating a van rental to explore the island by land.
Outside the resort walls, St. Lucia is chock full of family-friendly outings and activities, all of which could be arranged through the resort concierge desk or at a travel agent in nearby Rodney Bay.
The Cliff at Cap
The resort's restaurant The Cliff at Cap is surprisingly kid-friendly for being recognized as one of the best restaurants on the island. Welsh chef Craig Jones serves up a finely crafted menu of French cuisine with heavily Caribbean influences. In fact, Jones is married to a native islander and often mixes in family recipes and tricks into his dishes. Along with a handful of other chefs on the island, he has pushed the use of native ingredients and dishes to give St. Lucia a burgeoning reputation as an island specializing in "locavore" Caribbean cuisine. These are especially showcased at a special Caribbean buffet every Tuesday night, which brings locals and visitors from all over the island to sample beef pepper pot, roast jerk pork, Creole "pot au feu" and other native dishes. The children's menu is particularly extensive, with gourmet versions of all the classics -- chicken strips, pizza, mini-burgers and fish filet -- that are healthier than most corresponding kids menu fare.
An "in between" menu has also been created for guests from 4 to 6 p.m. each day.
The layout of the restaurant makes it conducive to bringing children -- because it is spread out lengthwise the better to maximize tables with a view of the crashing waves on the cliffs, there is ample room to seat families away from couples enjoying a romantic dinner, so you never feel like you are imposing. Thanks to the view, there is also plenty to look at and talk about to keep kids occupied, as well as a telescope for older kids to survey the scene between courses. For lunch, meals are served at the pool below, making it even easier to eat and entertain.
Naked Fisherman Beach Bar & Grill
Located at the beach and under a thatched roof, this causal restaurant features BBQ and seafood. And be on the lookout for the occasional Creole seafood 'boil' or lobster lunch, too.
As wonderful as the restaurant is, the resort's in-suite accommodation also begs families to cook their own meals for a more casual (and less expensive) option while on the resort. Making the task easier, the resort offers "fridge packages" for guests, so you can arrive with your kitchen already stocked, including a family package for $140 that includes enough for breakfast, snacks and two dinners (pizza and lasagna).
Offering even more flexibility, however, Cap Maison has put together an application on its website to shop for groceries item-by-item, the same way you might shop at home, so you can be sure the fridge is stocked with favorite food items for everyone in the family by the time you arrive!
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
One of the best attributes of St. Lucia -- which strikes guests immediately upon arrival -- is the friendliness and even forwardness of the native inhabitants of the island. Unlike some Caribbean islands that maintain staff at an arm's length or strictly separate tourists from natives, St. Lucia prides itself on creating a warm, welcoming environment, with something approaching egalitarianism between tourists and residents. Because of that, traveling with kids is particularly rewarding here, as restaurant and hotel staff go out of their way to interact with children and make them talk, laugh and smile.
Cap Maison is no exception from this phenomenon; the resort will also help to arrange babysitters from the housekeeping staff who are extremely skilled in entertaining and caring for children, so you can rest easy while you sneak out for that romantic dinner.
The Art of Smart Timing
The best time to visit Cap Maison is, of course, that sweet spot between December through March, after the threat of hurricanes have passed and the thermometer turns chilly in northern climates. Of course, like most Caribbean resorts, you can also achieve substantial savings by booking outside those times, with Cap Maison offering rates of up to 30 percent off between April and mid-December. Before you book, look for special offers that can drive down rates even further and add in extras such as food and dining credits and included tours. Look especially for a special family package that includes free meals for kids during the length of the stay and four hours of babysitting daily.
A multiplicity of flights leave for St. Lucia from New York, Miami and San Juan and arrive at Hewanorra International Airport. But Hewanorra is at the extreme southern tip of the island, which is about an 1.25-hour drive from the resort on winding mountain roads, adding an unpleasant delay after your flight (and an additional hazard for toddlers prone to motion sickness). The other airport on the island, G.F. Charles, is located in the city of Castries, only a 15-minute drive from the resort; however, this island is served by a limited number of airlines, mostly flying from other islands. In other words, you'll have to weigh carefully the pros and cons of a long drive after arrival versus the hassle of airport transfer and layover on the way.
The resort can arrange a transfer from the airport by vehicle, water taxi or helicopter, all for a fee.
For Mom and Dad
Of course, being a luxury resort known for romance, there is a plethora of activities to keep mom and dad happy when the kids are with the sitter. They start with Spa Maison, which offers an assortment of facials, massages and other body treatments.
For evening diversions, there are three bars at the resort, including the Bar at Cliff at Cap, which offers an excellent selection of single-barrel rums from around the Caribbean at surprisingly low prices. (Try the Admiral Rodney for St. Lucia's finest!) The restaurant also has a special table that couples can reserve on advance notice, located on a deck down the cliff from the restaurant in reach of the spray from the ocean. It combines the benefits of romance and seclusion with the special feeling that comes from being in plain view of all of the other (jealous) diners upstairs in the restaurant. Making the experience extra cool is a "Champagne zip line" that carries bottles of bubbly and other libations from the bar down to the table by means of a cable mimicking the zip lines found on forest canopy tours. It should go without saying that many engagement rings have also found their way down the line; moms and dads long past "I do" can nevertheless relive the moment with a special opportunity for romance away from the little ones. It does have to be reserved in advance -- and, in season, well in advance -- to secure the spot.