Here’s a true story. As our taxi from Hewanorra International Airport winds its way through dense tropical plantations, up steep hills dotted with villages and along beautiful coastlines, I turn to my husband and say: “We have to get out and explore St. Lucia while we’re here.”
As the cab arrives at the entrance to Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort and takes us on a tour of the spectacular estate, I’m starting to waver: “Maybe we’ll just stay in the resort and not go anywhere.”
And when we finally walk into our villa – a gorgeous white-painted cottage with a private plunge pool, set on a hillside with a panoramic view of the island’s iconic Pitons and Caribbean Sea – my mind is made up: “I’m not leaving the villa.”
Located in the Eastern Caribbean islands, just to the northwest of Barbados, St. Lucia is awash with upscale resorts and hotels, but few can lay claim to the unique and remarkable natural beauty of Sugar Beach.
Set in the Val des Pitons, directly between the world-famous twin peaks rising more than 2,500 feet above the water and island, this exclusive hideaway offers a vacation experience like no other.
“It’s one of the most beautiful places on earth,” says owner Roger Myers, the British entrepreneur and visionary who bought this former sugar plantation and run-of-the-mill hotel in 2005 and created one of the Caribbean’s best luxury resorts and residential developments.
“Everything about it for me is mystical: the setting, the views, the property,” he adds. “There’s a transcendental beauty to the Pitons that just lifts your heart.”
With 96 guest accommodations featuring hillside villas, beachfront bungalows and sugar mill rooms; an array of restaurants; a rainforest spa; two white sand beaches; and exotic gardens, Sugar Beach is in a secluded and seductive world of its own.
And if you happen to fall in love with the place – like Myers and many guests since – the resort also offers the chance to buy your own slice of Caribbean utopia with a handful of private Hillside and Beachfront Residences available for purchase (see page XX).
Sugar Beach is located on St. Lucia’s calm-water southwestern coastline, about three miles from the town of Soufrière and a 45-minute drive from the international airport.
Nestled in more than a hundred acres of tropical forest separating Gros Piton and Petit Piton, the resort has an almost ethereal quality that entirely befits its UNESCO World Heritage-listed setting.
From the unassuming main entrance at the top of the hill, the guest accommodations are cleverly grouped in small and intimate clusters of villas and cottages, cascading down the tree-covered slope like mini-waterfalls to the spectacular bay.
At the foot of the hill is an enclave of private residences, some elevated on the lower slope, others perched directly on Glenconner Beach, named after the eccentric British aristocrat Colin Tennant, Lord Glenconner, who owned the hotel before Myers.
To the right, the road meanders alongside aquamarine water to a row of beachfront bungalows fronting the main Sugar Beach and under a canopy of mature trees to the Great House.
This is the resort’s social hub, an imposing but graceful plantation-style building overlooking tropical gardens, lawn cabanas, the pool and a beachfront restaurant.
Food plays a major role in the Sugar Beach experience, setting the rhythm of the resort’s daily schedule – breakfast at The Terrace in the Great House is followed by a casual and leisurely lunch at The Bayside restaurant just feet from the pool and beach.
Guests gather in The Palm Court, above The Terrace, for afternoon tea and sunset cocktails, and then have various options for dinner: a sensational Japanese-inspired menu in The Cane Bar, which doubles as a specialty rum bar; a more formal affair in The Great Room, with its old-world colonial ambience and Mediterranean- and Caribbean-influenced dishes; or a toes-in-the sand dinner at The Bayside.
And every Tuesday evening, Sugar Beach offers Machou, a popup restaurant on The Terrace alternating between a French grill and a barbecue.
The resort also encourages guests to enjoy “anywhere, anytime” dining: on the beach, in one of the lawn cabanas, on the boat dock, or under the stars on the terrace of your villa with a personalized menu to suit all tastes and special occasions.
Under the expert direction of Executive Chef/Director of Food & Beverage Jacques Chretien – with his 30-year career in the kitchens of some of the best restaurants in France and Mexico – Sugar Beach delivers a stellar culinary experience.
Chretien’s thoughtful farm-to-table approach informs his team’s menus, with local farmers delivering organic meats, vegetables, fruits and herbs to complement the resort’s global wine selection.
Expect to pay capital city prices for food and drinks at Sugar Beach. You can dine à la carte, but many guests opt for part- or all-inclusive meal plans that help keep costs from mounting without diluting the quality experience.
By day, even a full resort never feels crowded with guests scattered among their villas, the beaches, pool, tennis courts, the fitness center and also participating in an array of water sports, from snorkeling to diving and sailing.
Another highlight is The Rainforest Spa, an intimate retreat next to the main plantation house, designed by leading Caribbean architect Lane Pettigrew, built by local craftsmen and resembling a rustic village in a tropical forest.
The spa, which cost $2 million to create, offers traditional St. Lucian natural therapies in seven treehouse treatment rooms, along with a wet room, manicure and pedicure treehouse and a Temazcal Amerindian steam room set inside a stone dome.
Between meals and activities, many guests retreat to their luxury accommodations, comprising 77 hillside villas and cottages, eight beachfront bungalows and 11 sugar mill rooms close to the Great House.
All 18 completed private residences are also available for rent for most of the year – especially during high season. The mostly three- and four-bedroom homes feature pools, expansive terraces, indoor and outdoor living and dining spaces and high-end kitchens.
Each sugar mill room has the same plantation styling as the villas, cottages and beachfront bungalows as well as a private plunge pool and walled garden. Superior sugar mill rooms have the bonus of a roof terrace.
Our villa is halfway up the hillside, a standalone, whitewashed cottage straight out of a Caribbean storybook, with an entrance hall, sitting room, master bedroom with four-poster bed and flatscreen TV and a well-equipped bathroom with a claw-foot tub and walk-in shower.
The sitting room and bedroom open to a spacious terrace with sun loungers, a dining table, comfy plantation chairs under an awning, a plunge pool and beautiful views of the Pitons and Caribbean Sea.
Each villa comes with 24-hour butler service, a personal iPad and a pair of cute his-and-hers mobile phones linked to your butler’s station. Simply call to place an order, book a dinner reservation or request a pickup from anywhere in the resort.
Every ride is a joy in itself. Resort owner Roger Myers fell in love with the jaunty three-wheeler tuk-tuks that are popular in Southeast Asia and bought several to ferry Sugar Beach guests around the resort.
Splashed with vibrant colors and individual nameplates, the motorized vehicles dart around the resort like tropical parrots. “You can be a millionaire or a kid and still love sitting in those tuk-tuks,” says Myers. “They just make you smile.”
St. Lucia’s peak season is mid-December to April, and Sugar Beach also has its ebbs and flows, popular with honeymooners in spring and summer, multigenerational families during school holidays (the resort has a dedicated kids’ club) and couples year round.
The resort underwent a three-year, multimillion-dollar renovation and transition and relaunched in 2012 as Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort – and is for the most part well maintained.
A nonfunctioning shower in our villa and a missing but prominent tile in the pool were initial minor flaws, but they were quickly fixed.
There’s some ongoing construction on final residences and a handful of villas being renovated, but the work is carefully supervised so as not to interrupt the guest experience.
While Viceroy has managed the property since 2008 and delivers a polished international service, Myers was adamant that the resort keep its island character, especially in regards to the staff.
“I wanted it to be a Caribbean hotel, not a British or American hotel,” he says. “Almost all our staff is St. Lucian and some have been here for 20 or 30 years. The people are fantastic.”
We never did leave Sugar Beach during a weeklong stay, save for a tour of a neighboring cocoa plantation and a chilled Piton beer at The View, a local bar with a breathtaking vista of Gros Piton. The other joys of St. Lucia will have to wait until next time.
HOME, SWEET HOME
LUXURY LIVING AT SUGAR BEACH RESIDENCES
When British entrepreneur Roger Myers sailed his boat around St. Lucia’s Petit Piton in 2005 and first set eyes on the Jalousie sugar plantation nestled serenely on the beach, his jaw dropped.
“I couldn’t resist it,” he says. “I came down here and looked at the place and thought, if I ever do anything again in my life, this should be the thing that I do.”
Having developed a hugely successful chain of restaurants and pubs in the United Kingdom, Myers wasn’t looking for a new venture at the time, but knew he’d found something special.
And as part of a consortium that purchased the former hotel and its surrounding land, Myers had a personal vision to create one of the world’s finest luxury resorts and residential developments.
Fast-forward almost 12 years and his pipedream is a spectacular reality with a multiaward-winning resort, 18 private residences built and sold out, another three sold and awaiting completion and a final four remaining for purchase.
The last available Hillside Residence is the most elevated, set on 17,600 square feet of land and featuring 2,448 square feet of internal space, 2,865 square feet of outdoor living and a private pool.
The three-bedroom home is designed in authentic Caribbean island style with contemporary interiors, enjoys panoramic views of the Pitons and bay and is priced at $4.25 million.
The other remaining homes are three of five Beachfront Residences, set directly on the smaller but equally beautiful Glenconner Beach.
These Michaelis Boyd-designed homes will be more contemporary in design, with a distinctive Southeast Asian look, and include numerous water features, glass sliding doors for seamless indoor/outdoor living, private pools and stunning views of the Pitons and Caribbean Sea.
One four-bedroom home is set on 37,507 square feet of land, with 4,224 square feet of internal space, and is priced at $8.25 million.
The neighboring five-bedroom home comprises 38,987 square feet of land, 5,374 square feet of interior living space and is listed for $8.75 million.
The final five-bedroom home is the largest of the Beachfront Residences, sited on 61,790 square feet of land with 7,593 square feet of internal living space and a price tag of $15 million.
The purchase prices include fully furnished interiors and décor – selected by Michaelis Boyd and curated to owners’ personal design styles – individual residence management and oversight, a dedicated maintenance team, 24/7 security and housekeeping services.
Sugar Beach Residences owners have access to all of the resort’s facilities and receive a 15 percent discount on all food and beverage purchases and spa treatments.
The Pier Jetty on Glenconner Beach is also being extended to provide additional lounging, drinks and food service.
A team of experts led by Property Director Penny Strawson guides buyers through the residences’ purchase process.
“St. Lucia’s unspoiled natural beauty, delightful year-round climate, good infrastructure and friendly, hospitable people have helped the island establish itself as one of the world’s most desirable destinations,” says Strawson.
“The island is also something of a safe haven with a stable government and currency, a robust legal system and is economically sound,” she adds, citing St. Lucia’s consistent World Bank ranking and reputation as one of the region’s top countries for ease of doing business.
For resort owner Roger Myers, Sugar Beach is a dream realized. “I wanted it to be cool, fun, relaxing and beautiful,” he says, “and I think it’s all of those things now.”
For more information, call +1 758 456 8091, email email@example.com or visit sugarbeachresidences.com.
Image Credits: PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF SUGAR BEACH, A VICEROY RESORT, ST. LUCIA.