26 October 2016

Enjoy the view of the spectacular Pitons at Sugar Beach
Strictly host Tess Daly tells us just how sweet life can be at St Lucia’s Sugar Beach Resort
We won’t need those high heels here,Tess!
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ust after the Strictly Come Dancing final, my family and I were ready to fly off for a much-needed ten-day break in the Caribbean. It wasn’t our first trip to St Lucia, we had been a few years ago and absolutely loved the island: it’s so green with spectacular scenery everywhere you look. I’d had my eye on the Sugar Beach resort for some time as I’m a huge fan of the Viceroy chain. I love their décor and design, and it’s never short on style. Sugar Beach is both chic and family friendly, and not too formal, which was perfect for us as we were travelling with our two daughters.

As we pulled up to the resort it was just breathtakingly spectacular. It is the most beautiful location I have ever seen - the hotel sits nestled in the valley that lies beneath the Pitons (two volcanic plugs which are the Caribbean’s only World Heritage site). We were so excited as we rounded the corner in our taxi - the hotel is a 45-minute ride from the airport - and saw it all laid out in front of us. There was the sparkling turquoise ocean beyond and it was mind blowing. Our ‘room’ was a very private villa on the hillside, which was great.
Enjoy a bike ride amongst the Pitons
My husband Vernon and I had a gorgeous room with a four-poster bed and there was another bedroom for the girls. The icing on the cake was the terrace: we had 180-degree views out across the ocean and the Pitons on either side. A photograph would barely do it justice - you could sit for hours just staring out at the view. It was so peaceful.
A luxury Beachfront Bungalow at Sugar Beach
"The hotel sits nestled in the valley that lies beneath the Pitons (two volcanic plugs which are the Caribbean’s only World Heritage site.)"
We weren’t really within walking distance to the beach, but that was fine because our views were so incredible from our rooms high up on the hillside. We did, however, have a plunge pool so we could cool off while we were sitting out in the sun. And there were buggies laid on to take us down to the beach (and the more difficult journey back up). These tuk-tuk like vehicles arrived regularly, so it wasn’t a big deal travelling to and fro.

They were painted pink, so our daughters christened them the Barbie carts! Everything was geared towards making our stay as easy as possible. As the resort is quite spread out, we found the two mobile phones we were given really helpful. If your party splits up during the day and one of you is on the beach and the other is back at the villa you can get hold of one another easily without paying a fortune to use your UK phone. And to oversee everything you have a butler: nothing is too much trouble and you are made to feel as if you can ask for whatever will make your stay more comfortable.

It’s great when you have children, especially as they can arrange things for you. It totally removed any stress having the extra help. In fact, the service generally was amazing. Normally I feel guilty asking for too many things or help when I’m staying at a hotel but they didn’t make you feel that way, they made us feel so comfortable. There was so much different food on offer, too: you could eat local food, there was a kids’ menu and the resort even offers a sushi restaurant. Plus it was no trouble at all to set up a table for us on our terrace.
There’s a reason why we love the Caribbean so much and go back so regularly: the guaranteed winter sun. After a lot of rain in the UK (and a busy Strictly schedule!) we wanted some sunshine. And this holiday didn’t disappoint in this respect: in such a tropical climate you do get a few showers but for the most part we had incredible weather. There’s also so much to do in St Lucia - you aren’t confined to just sitting around if you prefer to be more active. Water sports can be arranged on the beach. We went snorkelling in the specially created marine park, and there was also kayaking and pedaloes. The children loved using the pedaloes, though it was a challenging workout
when there was a stiff breeze! Our eldest daughter even went ‘snuba-ing’ with Vernon. I’d never heard of it before.

It’s a cross between snorkelling and scuba diving. It’s a gentle introduction to scuba, you go under the water with a pipe of oxygen. She loved it because she’s a bit of a daredevil. There was a kids’ club available but our children prefer to spend time with us and they made friends by the pool anyway. The great thing about being poolside was that the beach was a stone’s throw away so we could keep an eye on them. The gym and the spa were much more up my street than the scuba. The spa was set up on seven treehouses in the jungle, all on stilts.

It was the most extraordinary setting as you could hear the waterfalls trickling down the rocks as you were having a treatment, which was so relaxing. It was heaven - you’re totally transported while you have these amazing treatments with all the best organic products. It was just what I needed to unwind. We weren’t confined to the hotel, though. We took the children to the mud baths and the volcano in Soufriere, the town nearest to the hotel. We all jumped in the mud and splashed around and rubbed it into our skin. Once you get over the smell (it’s very sulphuric, Soufriere literally means sulphur) it makes your skin feel really soft and smooth.

My children were so excited to be at the world’s only drive-through volcano, it was very educational and the girls learned a lot about the geology of the area. My eldest even sent a postcard back to her geography teacher at school. Another outing was to Hotel Chocolat, five minutes from our hotel. Seeing as I’m a chocoholic it was high on the list of things I wanted to do. We did a chocolate-making course there and made our own chocolate bars with local produce. We all loved it. In the evening, before dinner, we’doften go to the cocktail bar, which the girls loved too. We’d all chat to other guests and make friends, and enjoy the music. The atmosphere is trendy but also low-key - you can see why Hollywood stars love it so much there. We were told Matt Damon held his wedding at the hotel, and Brad Pitt and George Clooney were guests.

While we were there actor Michael J Fox was also staying, and we saw him at breakfast. Vernon was very excited because he’s such a big Back To The Future fan. At the end of the day we would watch the amazing sunsets, which are so beautiful in St Lucia. The sky turns orange and purple, it almost doesn’t look real. It really was the most tranquil time of the day. We went away for rest and relaxation and we definitely couldn’t have come back feeling more rested and relaxed. We were totally recharged.

Original article published in Jan 2015. All info and prices correct at time of publication.
"It was heaven, you’re totally transported while you have these amazing treatments."
Sugar Beach Resort is nestled in a beautiful bay
St Lucia has great diving opportunities
Chill out time: Tess relaxes at Sugar Beach
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