Have Baby Will Travel’s trip reports for St. Lucia are organized alphabetically by city or region within the country. Simply scroll down to read them all. Each trip report has been provided to Have Baby Will Travel in hopes of giving other parents a clearer picture of what to expect when traveling to St. Lucia with a baby or toddler.
CASTRIES: ALMOND SMUGGLERS COVE
Jon & Family (baby 15mos.)
If you can get past the first day at ASC then you should have a great time. We are trying to give a fair review, so please read to the bottom as it does get better.
We booked to go out for 9 nights on the 11th May, we were taking our 15 month old son and due to the reviews we had read, if we weren’t going out for a family wedding we may have cancelled.
We arrived at the resort and after 20 hours of travelling with a young child who hadn’t slept things didn’t get off to a great start. Our room was ready but the requested adjoining room for my in-laws wasn’t. We went to our room and the cot that had been requested wasn’t present, it took about 2 hours to be delivered and was slightly rickety when they finally set it up. We had no kettle, a small high-up cracked window at the back and a leaking shower which was still usable. We were so tired on arrival we settled into the room as was, the kettle arrived about an hour later. As our son was so tired we did order room service on the first night, it still hadn’t arrived after an hour and when I phoned to complain to the restaurant, I was told they didn’t want to bring it out in the rain. It finally arrived 2 hours after ordering and was not what was requested but was very nice.
My mother in-law complained quite a lot as their first room was dirty with no furniture, however they were eventually given a very nice room and had no other issues.
After such a disastrous first night, we had massive reservations about the rest of the stay. HOWEVER, there is very little to find fault with for the rest of the holiday.
The food, although same-ish, was of a very good standard and enough choice for even our 15 month old. The pools were excellent and the staff very friendly, especially with our little boy. We didn’t eat at Cafe Enids because it is adults only but from what I heard the food was very good. We mainly ate at the Cove and the Italian and had no complaints with either food or service which was prompt and extremely friendly. We had no problem with our water supply and no upset stomach upsets for any of us.
We tried the water sports and as the resort was so quiet had no problems booking any of the facilities.
It is worth noting that the 9 days we were there the resort was fairly empty, even though we had a baby there did not seem to be many children in the resort. However we did notice in the two days before leaving (due to French school holidays) the resort became a lot busier and there were smallish queues for the buffet and restaurants, especially at breakfast.
One thing that really impressed us was the honesty of the staff, our car got hit by a staff member on our 2nd day, which no-one saw, but he took care of everything from informing the police to talking to the hire car company and paying for the damage. So the disruption to us was minimal and this was the attitude we found with all the people we came across both on and off the resort.
You have to remember this is the Caribbean and they do work on a different timescale to us as everyone is so laid back. Our window was fixed on day 6 of the holiday, and on the same day they offered us a new room because of the leaking shower, but we elected to stay where we were. Everything does get sorted eventually is just may take some time.
With regard to the gardens and scenery they were lovely and well watered. There was some very light construction but not noticeable and in fact the construction workers were very friendly, and entertaining.
With the recent events of a missing girl in Portugal we were adamant that we would not be leaving our son in the nursery. However on day four after talking to a member of the nursery staff we were so impressed and they were so nice that we put him in for a couple of hours in the heat of the day. He loved it so much he went in nearly every day after that for a couple of hours which enabled us to enjoy my sister’s wedding without disruption. We also twice made use of the baby-sitting in the evening, which was provided by a member of the nursery staff who had already looked after our son in the day. They came after he went to bed and there were no problems, we were very impressed.
All in all we had a great holiday at the resort although I do think a 4star rating is pushing it slightly. What I would say is that if things are not ok when you arrive, keep complaining as it seems that those that complain most get sorted first. However I cannot emphasize enough how fantastic every member of staff was and it is that that we will remember, not the first day.
We were very concerned about taking a young toddler such a long way for a first holiday and we needn’t have worried. He settled in more quickly and enjoyed himself more than any of us.
CASTRIES: CARIBBEAN JEWEL BEACH RESORT
Wai Yip & Family (baby 1.5yrs)
We just came back from a week long vacation from the Caribbean Jewel Resort. It is a lovely hotel with huge room, a balcony and a great view to the Rodney bay. It is a great place to soak in the pools and look over the bay. My toddler son was initially anxious of getting into water, and he got to love to play in the wading pool. Staff members are all friendly and helpful. A free Internet workstation is also available to the guests by the reception.
We were hoping to have a relaxing holiday. If you doubt if this is ever possible with a toddler you are at least partially right. But another problem is that it takes a long walk for us to get to the beach. The road is not so nice to walk either because it has no sidewalk. The beach resorts kind of monopolized the beach access except in one entrance near the center.
We didn’t have a car and we walked at least twice a day. It is about 20-25 minutes to get to the center of the beach by the Spinnaker restaurant. I was hauling my 25-pound son so you can probably do better. Now I am the kind of person who loves walking so I don’t mind the physical exercise. But even then it gets tiring doing it day by day. It gets really hot in the middle of the day. Don’t sweat it. Get a cab when it gets too much. We paid just EC$10 for the short ride.
The open-air restaurant sits on top of the building and gives the greatest view. Had it offered a more extensive menu we might have been tempted to stay inside the hotel more.
We went to Castries, shopping for gifts in the public market. For a small town it is really packed with people and traffic. We had lunch in a local restaurant. I tried to order fish broth, a typical St Lucian dish as I was told. The cashier had to ask me twice if I know what I’m ordering. I guess few foreigners have ever tried it. It is a stew of fish, vegetables and banana. My wife is a fish fan and she liked the broth. I’ve never had banana in a main dish so I didn’t know what to expect. Turned out it has the texture of potato and I rather liked it.
Another day we went to the Pigeon Island national park. We took a water taxi there. A return trip costs US$30. The jetty is at a very unobvious location next to the Lime restaurant. It was a very pleasant 25 minutes trip. On Pigeon Island, there’s no jetty. We need to wade water get to the beach. No big deal if you are prepared. I wasn’t and I lost one sandal to the current the instant I got off the boat. Fortunately I managed to buy a child size scandals that barely fit me at the entrance of the park.
Pigeon Island is really a great place. We climbed the Fort Rodney and found a gorgeous view on top of the hill. Then I had my wife wait and climbed the Signal hill myself. The trail gets more difficult near the summit. But I managed to get there with my small sandal and find an even better view. We had lunch in Jambe de Bois restaurant on the shore. Their seaside patio seating is so relaxing it is easily my most favorite restaurant.
One of the big disappointment is we couldn’t go out with the Brig Unicorn sailboat. It was in the dry dock the week we were there. In any case the tour company did book us on a catamaran day tour. It turned out great. We sailed to Soufriere, visited a waterfall, the Sulphur spring and had lunch in the Fond Doux plantation. I really liked the rustic Soufriere over the bustling Castries. Alas the tour didn’t allow any time in the town.
Our favorite restaurant in Rodney bay is Ti Banane. It is somewhat pricey but has great food and great atmosphere. Live music starts around 8:30pm. The buffet dinner on Friday evening is really good.
Finally I found St Lucian people are really friendly and hospitable. Next time we come back to the Caribbean island I hope my son will take more than a little dip on the water 🙂
CASTRIES: COTTON BAY VILLAGE
Dan & Family (baby 15mos.)
We stayed in a Tamarind 2BR suite from March 17-24. It has some real problems, and my guess is they aren’t going to be able to fix all of them… however, for us, it was a great bargain since we had a very nice, large suite for something like $250 per night. (We booked through American Airlines Vacations.) We knew there would be problems but took a gamble. In the end, it was worth it to have the kind of room we had (about 1200 sq ft, with full kitchen) since we were travelling with a baby and the Carribean can be so expensive. So we gave it a shot, and — even though this place isn’t for everyone and we’d have been mortified if we paid $600 per night — we’re glad we did.
Prior reviews accurately mentioned some of the many negatives about this property: uneven service at best, lack of certain furnishings (no drawers for clothing, etc.), and we had minor ant problems as well. Strangely, we found the bathrooms to be very poorly lit — that is, no lights by the sink. Also, having A/C only in the bedrooms is a terrible idea — even though it’s beautiful to open the siding doors and feel the breeze, that (i) doesn’t help much during the daytime to cool the place, and (ii) invites LOTS of flying bugs in at night.
It’s also true that the units, at least their kitchens, are not uniformly stocked — we lacked basic pots and pans, food storage containers, etc. That made things difficult for us, since we prepare food for our 1-year old. After numerous requests, our butlers did get us a few pots, and we just made due. Not a good situation for a place that provides a full kitchen. (And no, there really is no place to sit and eat, other than the balcony.)
Other than those problems, the rooms, I have to say, are beautiful. Nicely furnished, flat-panel TVs/DVD players throughout, solid and tasteful furniture, good bedding, nice balconies (our unit, number 82 I believe, had 3) and outdoor lounge chairs, even good shampoos and soaps, etc. Housekeeping was very good, too.
We found most of food at the restaurant to be quite good. (Just stay away from the “paella” at dinner!) However, since the resort is located so far from any other restaurant, it would have been great for either more menu choices (the menu never changed during our 7 days), or having more on-site restaurant options, or both. Contrary to the prior reviewer, we generally found service at the restaurant to be very good. (But yes, taxi prices are rediculous… expect to pay about $1 per minute of driving time.)
The childcare was very good, and located just off the pool. We left our little one there for short periods, and hired one of the women who worked there (Laura) to sit for us when we went to dinner a few times. She was very nice and we were quite happy with all aspects of the childcare setup.
The beach is relatively pretty to look at from the restaurant, but not a great place to spend time. The water is full of seaweed, there are lots of horses, the water is a little rough and not very clear, and the sand generally looks a bit dirty. So if you’re expecting a pristine Carribbean beach, you’ll be very disappointed. Since having a baby on the beach is a handful, we spent most of our time at the pool/baby pool, which is quite nice. If being located on a beautiful beach is important to you, you’ll probably be happier elsewhere.
My wife had a tough time at the spa, which was only partially ready for customers. She recieved a very good facial from the service provider, but that same woman apparently had no idea how to give a pedicure (and admitted it), and did so poor a job that my wife asked her not to finish it. When my wife told the spa manager that she didn’t want to pay full price for the pedicure, the manager was defensive and basically told her to pay full price and that they’d finish the job later. She ended up cutting $15 off or something, but the manager obviously lacks the insight about what it means to be on vacation and at a spa, and that clients want to relax there rather than haggle over prices for substandard service. Coupled with the fact that the spa is still a construction zone (and thus is not terribly “atmospheric” at the moment), I think they really should consider cutting ALL of their prices there until construction is complete.
Here’s the bottom line about Cotton Bay: while it’s rooms and other buildings are constructed and furnished on a five-star level, the resort will never be a five-star resort in my opinion because they just don’t understand what it takes from a service perspective to attain that status. For example, while our butlers were quite sweet, we had to ask several times for kitchen supplies, we asked for dishwasher soap and they returned with one tablet (again, we were staying for a week). We asked the pool bartender for a food menu, and they said we needed to call our butler. So it took the butler 15 minutes to get a menu and bring it, then another 20-30 minutes to bring the food. Little things all, but they add up. In short, this is a 3-to-4 star place, dressed up like a 5-star; if you can get it for the right price and can live with these shortcomings, it’s actually quite a good bargain. But if the resort’s prices start climbing, its relative value will disappear…and that’s when the truly angry reviews will start pouring in.
GROS ISLET: BAY GARDENS HOTEL
Paul & Family (baby 15mos.)
I stayed in the Bay Gardens for two weeks in June – July 2005 with my wife and 15 month old son and cannot recommend it enough.
The rooms were well proportioned, sizeable enough that my son could walk up and down to his heart’s content while we hid indoors from the storms. Our rooms were cleaned even when we only left the room at 3pm, an unusual feature in any hotel, but especially useful with a small child, where timing is more fluid. The cot provided was a permanent cot, rather than a travel cot – better for our baby.
The staff were wonderful, and the hotel had the impression of one under excellent management.
We encountered a few problems with our room, all minor and all resolved almost immediately. With one fault, we were compensated by management for reduced comfort for one night.
Our overall impression of St Lucia was not as positive, and the hotel felt like a real oasis from it all. While the island is touted now as an ideal family destination, we think that this must be aimed at older children, say 8+, as most activities are aimed at adults and older children, the facilities are also not designed for buggies / strollers.