Tired of the same old Spring Break getaway? Looking for something new, exotic, warm and LGBT-friendly? A destination wedding perhaps?
It’s time to discover St. Lucia.
Tucked between the beautiful Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, St. Lucia, a sovereign island country in the Lesser Antilles with crystal-clear water, is not like every other Caribbean island. It is magical, and unique.
St. Lucia is known for the extraordinary beauty of The Pitons, two mountains, one larger than the other, are listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. St. Lucia has a drive-in volcano, botanical gardens and stunning waterfalls.
Sugar Beach is the most exclusive and luxurious resort on the island and super gay-friendly. Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort, is nestled in the mountainside along the Caribbean Sea and located in the southwestern part of St. Lucia, about 3 miles outside of the town of Soufriere. The resort is located between the world-famous Pitons on the most beautiful beach on the island. Check out the hotel’s Instagram site (@sugarbeachviceroy) for some stunning views!
There are over-the-top luxury rooms and villas but the beachfront bungalows and residences are a once-in-a-lifetime retreat. Beachfront bungalows are perfect for a romantic getaway for two and the residences are great for three couples to celebrate a milestone life event or simply get away together. There are lots of included amenities. While there isn’t much nightlife, with so much to do during the day, a leisurely stroll in the immaculately landscaped gardens and star gazing are good ways to enjoy paradise after dark.
Sugar Beach offers the most unique spa in the Caribbean. The Rainforest Spa blends traditional St. Lucian culture with the natural beauty of Mother Nature, with treatments offered in an individual tree-house gazebo. Another unique element is the earthen steam room, The Temascal, featuring a stone dome used by Amerindians for health and religious purposes.
Exemplary service is abundant here. With every reservation comes a personalized butler service. Fabulous! Rates start at about $1,000 upwards to $4,500 per night in season and higher in high season, around the holidays. Plan for a minimum of three nights, but a four-night getaway would be the recommendation.
The dining on the resort is nothing short of a feast. Dining ranges from the casual, breakfast-only The Terrace to the evening-casual Bayside Restaurant and elegant The Great Room.
The meal plans are the most economical way to go and include up to three meals a day and drinks. There is a supplemental addition to the room rate. You can choose your package but the all-inclusive is $230 per person, per day. Some items have a supplemental charge like the Chef’s Tasting at the resort’s best restaurant, which comes with a wine pairing. It is worth the splurge. Tips are included with a government-mandated 10-percent surcharge that is shared among the employees.
It takes a while to get to St. Lucia, adding to its exotic location. There are no direct flights from Philadelphia International Airport, so you will have to connect in Miami. American Airlines offers just one flight a day to Hewannorra International Airport. It will take you about six-hours flying time to get to St. Lucia. Add in arriving early to the airport and the connecting flight time, you are looking at a 10-hour trip. It will take you about 45 minutes to get to Sugar Beach by private car. The resort literally thinks of everything for weary travelers; Sugar Beach offers expedited entry through St. Lucia immigration. The locals, called the Lucians, are friendly and the ride to the resort is a great way to get an island tour on very curvy roads. It is worth the trip.
The better airline lounge?
Credit cards that charge a hefty annual fee of $450 can offer a lot of value and travel perks. You can get credit for airline fees, reimbursed for your Global Entry renewal, and access to premium airport lounges. In Miami, I decided to find out who had the better chocolate-chip cookie. So, in Miami International Airport Terminal D, I checked out the American Airlines’ Admirals Club and American Express® The Centurion Lounge. I had complementary access with the Platinum Card® by American Express and the Citi® AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard. The Centurion Lounge wins for the Exhale spa and a better cookie, while the Admirals Club is a better bet with more space, better amenities like showers and the best customer service if you need help with anything regarding your flight, right in the lounge.
Jeff Guaracino is the author of the “Handbook for LGBT Tourism and Hospitality and Gay and Lesbian Tourism: the Essential Guide for Marketing.”