by Michael Blanding
The Caribbean island of St. Lucia is quite easily one of the most beautiful places in the world. It’s easy enough to rattle off its accolades — the spot where Superman took Lois Lane on their honeymoon in Superman II and Oprah’s designation as one of five places you must see before you die. Heck, even The Bachelor chose the island not once but twice to film its romantic season finale. Most of the claim to fame circles around one landmark: the Pitons, two emerald green volcanic peaks rising from the turquoise Caribbean Sea. It’s hard to understand just how breathtaking they are until you’ve seen them — and after you have, it’s hard to stop breathing them in. Case in point: the cab driver who took us to the resort told us that he has seen them 1,000 times, and yet still keeps taking pictures of them.
When you visit, you’ll see images of the Pitons from every angle, right, left, and center. But only one resort on the island affords the opportunity to stay between them: Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort, formerly the Jalousie Plantation. Villa-style accommodations stretch into the green hills between the Pitons, tastefully blended into the environment, and providing the illusion of privacy for guests. Of course, many afford drop-dead views of the Pitons on either side, with the ocean stretching between them into the distance. The beach between them lives up to its newly dubbed name, Sugar Beach, with plenty of sugar-white sand imported to fill the space, and beachside villas affording easy access to the waves.
Despite the feeling of absolute luxury that enfolds guests when they arrive, however, Sugar Beach has maintained its feel as a family-friendly destination, in contrast to the other comparable resorts in the neighborhood (Anse Chastenet and Ladera most prominent). The staff is gracious and accommodating, not only to honeymooners, but also to parents with small children — and a “bespoke” kids program leaves parents guilt-free to relax or explore the island with the knowledge their kids will be doing likewise. Finally, there are the new Oceanside villas, with a minimalist layout that combines a sexy, upscale vibe for couples, with an open layout and e accurately captures the spirit of the experience, which begins with an enthusiastic staffer approaching your charges asking if they’d like to play a game or explore a cove, and then, before they know it, involving them in craft-making, storytelling, and marine biology lessons to while away the afternoon. Note: kids must be at least 5 years old to participate unsupervised; children up to 12 are accommodated with age-appropriate activities.
For older kids, the resort provides a full range of sports and water activities, including sailing, windsurfing, snorkeling, and tennis lessons. The resort is also happy to arrange expeditions around the island. One of the most popular are the zip lines at Morne Coubaril estate, just across the road from the resort, which offer the chance for adults and kids 8 and up to glide through the rainforest with exhilarating views of the Pitons. The neighboring town of Soufriere, which means sulfur in French, is aptly named for its active volcano and hot springs that make for a perfect family day trip.
Then of course there is the obvious challenge of climbing one of the Pitons themselves. The taller of the two, named the Gros (“fat”) Piton, is actually the more accessible. It’s only four hours up and down, but the second hour is straight up, including some steep stairs and ladders, so only parents, teens, and fit pre-teens should try it. But the panoramic view from the top is likely to be your most memorable experience of the trip. The steeper Petit Piton is a much tougher climb, and it is technically illegal to scale due to the dangerous ropes and ladders necessary to make the ascent; but if you feel up to the challenge, it’s easy enough to find an unofficial guide to lead you up its face.asy beach access ideal for families. It’s hard to imagine a more perfect spot to please the entire family.
Our Editor Loves
- One of the most beautifully situated resorts in the world
- Pristine beach and pool accessible from waterside villas
- Easy access to adventures including snorkeling, ziplines and rainforest hikes
- Water Sports
- Children Programs
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort has 42 Luxury Villas climbing up the hillside with stellar views of the surrounding scenery. Located in multi-unit buildings, they nevertheless provide an air of privacy from the units next-door. Each comes with a spacious floor plan with a king-size bed and a pullout sofa bed in an adjoining room, a terrace with private plunge pool, as well as amenities including a flat-screen TV, DVD player, Keurig coffeemaker, iPod dock, and full bath with clawfoot tub. Each comes with butler service that's more than just window-dressing. From the moment you walk in, you'll have to fend off offers to unpack your luggage and plan dinner reservations and excursions. The drawback to the hillside rooms is that guests end up somewhat trapped -- since it's not feasible to walk down to the main resort buildings, you'll need to call for a shuttle every time you want to go to the restaurant or the beach. It's a small price to pay for the chance to wake up to the stunning view of a Piton on either side, but the rooms are better left to couples or parents with older kids.
Not that parents with small kids necessarily have to sacrifice. Down closer to the beach, the 11 Luxury Sugar Mill Rooms have the same amenities as the hillside villas, along with private plunge pools and garden views. But the ultimate luxury may be the 8 new Beachfront Bungalows that opened in December 2011. Designed with an ultra-modern feel, with lots of whitewashed walls and a completely open layout, they are equally perfect both for rambunctious kids and romantic honeymooners. A hot tub facing the beach allows you to view the waves and Pitons as you relax, or pull the shades for complete privacy. The only thing lacking is a kitchenette, but the location just steps from both the beach and the restaurant allows plenty of convenience along with the views.
In all rooms, kids under 5 stay free, children 5 to 12 pay a quarter of the adult rate, and teens up to age 17 pay half fare.
BEST BEACH VACATION EVER. We stayed at the Sugar Beach Resort the first week of November. This resort is the perfect marriage of luxury and nature. It was absolutely spectacular in every way. We stayed at the Ocean Grand Villa and it was magnificent. I loved the white furniture, dark hard wood floors and beachy feel. It was spotless as well. A special place that far exceeded our expectations. Our butlers, Ethan, Michael, Gary, and Sherman were terrific. The restaurant waiters and waitresses were delightful, particularly Zenith. The spa was very unique, tree houses for each treatment room and a beautiful entry way that made you feel you were entering another world. Maria and Leah at the spa were terrific. The beach was so beautiful, White sand and calm waters that felt you were in a swimming pool. There were in-ocean rafts that you could lounge in, it was really relaxing. The pool itself was great too. Beach service was quick and efficient. The restaurants were very good. The Great Room was a fabulous meal and we loved breakfast at the Terrance and lunch at Bayside and the Beach. Food is a bit expensive but it was worth it. The hotel got us taxis to go off property. We waited at the most 1-2 minutes for the shuttles, which you have to take everywhere as the roads are very steep. The drivers were very friendly, always asking us how our day was, etc. I never minded the shuttles because they were very efficient and everywhere. This hotel is really special. It was quiet and not crowded (possibly because of when we went) but we felt pampered and special. We will definitely be back!
Stayed at Sugar Beach in March 2019 and have never had a better experience or better service anywhere. Staff were all super cool, friendly, and helpful. The resort is beautiful, the beach super chill. We rented a car with the thought of exploring the island a little bit but could have easily stayed at the resort the entire time or arranged for transportation. Had the unfortunate experience of getting a flat tire on the way back to the airport. Could have easily been a day-long ordeal but as luck had it, it happened right in front of someone's house, who turned out to be a butler, Sean, at Sugar Beach. He hooked us up with a jack that actually worked and also had an air compressor to fill up the spare tire. We got to chat with Sean and his lovely fiancee while his friend Darnell helped us change the tire. Thanks to these cool people we were on our way in no time and made our flight. We encountered nothing but great people and good vibes in St. Lucia. Highly recommend and will definitely come back. Thanks again!
It's honestly hard to know where to start when you first arrive in this majestic location. Sure, there's the beach, and every family will want to dedicate a day or two to just lay on the lounge chairs, taking advantage of the tiki shelters and attentive drinks service, while the kids play in the surf. Be forewarned that there is a bit of a steep drop-off in the tide, so parents of small children will want to pay close attention, but the sand, imported several times a year from Trinidad, is powder-smooth, and the setting is utterly magical. As an antidote to the sand, the resort also has a large pool surrounded by cabanas just a few feet from the beach.
Families can enjoy both motorized and non-motorized water sports, including kayaks, paddle boards, wind surfing, wake boarding, banana boats and more. Plus, enjoy snorkeling and scuba lessons and excursions. Some additional fees may apply for some water sports.
Kids between 4 and 12 can enjoy scheduled and supervised activities daily at the Sugar Club. Treasure hunts, arts and crafts, archery and coconut bowling are just as few of the fun activities they'll enjoy. Older kids -- tweens and teens -- can head to the Spice Club for scheduled fun, like video games, Ping-Pong tournaments and water sports. Both clubs are complimentary.
Excursions and Tours
Families can sign up for excursions and tours around the island of St. Lucia, including biking and hiking tours, boating tours and zip-lining tours.
Hiking the Pitons
Then of course there is the obvious challenge of climbing one of the Pitons themselves. The taller of the two, named the Gros ("fat") Piton, is actually the more accessible. It's only four hours up and down, but the second hour is straight up, including some steep stairs and ladders, so only parents, teens, and fit pre-teens should try it. But the panoramic view from the top is likely to be your most memorable experience of the trip. The steeper Petit Piton is a much tougher climb, and it is technically illegal to scale due to the dangerous ropes and ladders necessary to make the ascent; but if you feel up to the challenge, it's easy enough to find an unofficial guide to lead you up its face.
The resort has three excellent restaurants and four bars on the premises.
Bayside Bar & Restaurant
The best choice for families with young kids is the Bayside Bar & Restaurant, located right on the beach. It's open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and offers views of the Pitons and boats in the harbor. The cuisine takes full advantage of island flavor, with conch, pork pepper pot, and ceviche for lunch, and a more dressed-up menu of roasted mahi-mahi with creole sauce and sauteed striped-bass with pearled pasta at night.
Located in the main complex, the Great Room is a much more stylish venue, with avant-garde artwork on the walls, and a sophisticated menu of local seafood and imported steaks. It's best to reserve for a date night or an early evening with older kids. The resort encourages guests to arrange dinners on their patios or anywhere else on the property that they'd like to take in the view (with 24 hours notice). An extensive children's menu available throughout the property offers the standard hot dogs, hamburgers, and chicken fingers, along with more sophisticated offerings -- spaghetti Bolognese, catch of the day with steamed vegetables, and organic chicken soup.
Enjoy breakfast at The Terrace daily between 7 and 10:30 a.m. and wake up to the views of the Caribbean and the resorts colorful landscape.
The Cane Bar & More
For late-night libations, the Cane Bar is an unexpected find, a sleek and stylish bar with Alice in Wonderland furniture and cutting-edge art more likely to be found in Miami than the West Indies. Of course, the selection of premium rums is pure Caribbean. Leave the kids home for this one. The other bars at the resort include the Bayside Bar, the Late Night Bar and the Palm Court Bar.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
The resort can arrange babysitting for those nights out without the kids. There's also a gym on the premises with classes offered in aerobics, yoga, and pilates.
The Art of Smart Timing
Being in the West Indies, there's never a bad time to visit St. Lucia -- you can pretty much be assured hot temperatures and sun year round. Of course, you're taking your chances between October and November during hurricane season in the Caribbean. Aside from that, Sugar Beach is never exactly cheap, but you can save significantly by booking outside peak times. Highest rates are over the holidays, with prices slightly lower between January and April, and lowest in the off-season between May and early December.
There are two airports on St. Lucia -- the George F.L. Charles Airport on the north side of the island near Castries and the Hewanorra International Airport near Vieux Fort. If at all possible, book a flight to the later -- not only does it receive direct flights from New York and Miami, but it's also significantly closer to Sugar Beach, which is an hour or so drive from the airport via taxi, which can be arranged ahead of time through the resort. Once at Sugar Beach, transportation is easy enough to arrange, with a range of drivers sanctioned by the hotel who can take you to restaurant and activity destinations throughout the island. Due to the twisty volcanic roads, it's sometimes easier to take a boat to your destination, though you'll pay more for the service.
For Mom and Dad
As if the resort couldn't get any better, Sugar Beach has a truly unique Rainforest Spa -- and yes, it's literally in the rainforest. A long passage with candles and piped in peeper frogs invites you to leave the rest of paradise behind as you enter one of seven treehouse treatment rooms for island-inspired bodywork including a bamboo massage and sulfur body scrub. A special couples' massage room includes a private pool to share after the treatment.
For a romantic night out without the kids, the nearby resort Ladera is also located between the Pitons, but from its location high up in the hills, it offers a completely different, dramatic view on the landmark. Its restaurant Dasheene is the best on the island, driven by chef Orlando Satchell's unique fusion of island spices and continental cuisine. The rack of lamb curry and lime-and-pepper steak are particular specialties.