Soufriere, Saint Lucia
What do you mean, you don’t want to go to the Caribbean for the art?
You mean you want to go to the Caribbean for the solitude and escape you can only find on a beach lounger under an umbrella along a white sand beach, engrossing novel in one hand, cool rum cocktail in the other? For the calm bay to swim and kayak and paddleboard in? For the one hundred acres of tropical rain forest surrounding you and the picture-perfect mountains in the background? For the nearby waterfalls, botanical gardens, drive-in volcano, and hot springs, in case you want to go exploring? For the rainforest spa and its treehouse treatment rooms? For the serene, all-white bedroom suites with garden and Caribbean views? For the impressive kids’ club that will make you wish you could be the toddler ditching your parents for the afternoon?
Well, you’ll find all of the above and more at Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort, nestled between the dramatic Piton Mountains, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, on the southwestern coast of St. Lucia.
And, yes, you’ll also find killer art throughout the main house and in the rooms.
Much of it comes from the private collection of Roger Meyers, who, in addition to owning Sugar Beach, was once the accountant for the Rolling Stones. (Talk about using your salary the right way.) The work of local Caribbean artists hang alongside a Matisse print and a Vivienne Westwood photo project. When I visited the hotel, I was especially struck by sculptures that appeared to be climbing up the wall in the Great House.
We first wrote about Sugar Beach when it opened to raves in 2012, shortly after the multi-million dollar renovation that transformed it from the Jalousie Plantation (long before that in the 18th century, this was a working sugar plantation), and have watched closely as it’s gotten better with time as a Viceroy Resort, adding more residential cottages (many are also privately owned) and, most recently, two large modern villas. We’ve sent several Fathom Concierge clients to the Sugar Beach — a family for spring break, two couples in need of R&R. The family has already gone back for a second trip. Sugar Beach is the kind of place you check into when you want to forget about everything else.
At a Glance
Secluded Caribbean escapism that’s at once family-friendly, refined, and relaxed. The resort is on one hundred acres and it feels like it: You need the golf carts to get around among the cottages, spa, Great House, and beach areas. But you won’t be working hard: This is the kind of place where you can happily spend your days reading a book, playing bocce, and splashing in the sea.
The artwork on site is striking and clearly made a strong (and unexpected!) impression on me, but the real standout is the take-your-breath-away setting at the base of Petit Piton mountain.
This Place Is Perfect For
Families who are not on a budget. Friends who want to totally unplug. Given the strong family vibe, it may not be as perfect when romance tops the agenda.
105 total, including luxury villas and luxury cottages, luxury beachfront bungalows, and luxury Sugar Mill rooms. Sugar Mill rooms are located near the mountain and have plunge pools, a garden, and plantation styling in the furnishings. Superior rooms also have rooftop terraces. The villas are clustered and have four-poster beds, claw-foot bathtubs, and plunge pools. Private residences are available in one- to four-bedroom configurations, and include the Beachfront Collection homes with modern décor.
You’re here for the beach, right? Because the sea is the thing here. Complimentary water activities include windsurfing, sailing, kayaks, Hobie Cats, pedalos, youth sailing (aged 10-17), waterskiing, wakeboarding, tubing, Banana Boats, and snorkeling (a daily $2 fee supports local reef conservation — just one way that Sugar Reef Gives Back). Also available: full PADI courses and certification, PADI Open Water, and SNUBA, a snorkel-scuba hybrid. (Need a nap yet?)
If you’re not a sea swimmer, hop into one of the pools. The main beach area is well tended, with food and drink service, but if you want something quieter, go to the adult beach area closer to the time shares. It’s windier but more secluded, and the swimming is great.
Out of the water, you can fill the hours with tennis, beach volleyball, table tennis, walks, or at classes at the gym.
This is a very family-friendly resort. Sugar Club is the supervised and complimentary program for children aged 4 to 12, with treasure hunts, dance, storytelling, and crafts. Activities are free, fun, and (don’t tell the kids) often educational. I don't have kids and it's been a few decades since I was one, but I thought the clubhouse was really, really cool. Spice Club for tweens and teens offers croquet, billiards, kayaking, paddleboarding, tennis, and sailing. (And video games, too, but you want their noses out of the digitals, right?) Babysitting is available at an additional cost. Changing stations are located throughout.
At the Rainforest Spa, treatments, which often incorporate local elements and practices, are performed in six atmospheric tree house gazebos, though the best treatment may be done in the Temascal, an earthen steam room where they do Ameriritual.
Food + Drink
There are several drinking and dining options, ranging from casual to gourmet. The Terrace in the Great House serves breakfast and becomes the pop-up, family-style French bistro Machou for dinner on Mondays and Saturdays seasonally. Bayside Restaurant serves lunch and dinner in an open-air, seaside setting. The magnificent views of the Pitons are included. The fine dining option is the Great Room, which serves a Caribbean-influenced menu in a candlelit colonial setting.
Bayside Bar serves drinks until 11 p.m., as well as a tapas-style menu. The Pier Bar on Glenconner Beach serves casual fare (burgers and coconut shrimp) from the morning through late afternoon. At the sleek Cane Bar, the “rummelier” can help you work your way through the extensive rum options on offer. Cane also serves a sushi menu that gets really high marks from Fathom travelers.
What to Do Nearby
It’s unlikely that you’ll want to leave the resort, and you shouldn’t feel bad about that. But if you do want to go exploring, the town of Soufriere is just three miles away, where you'll find local cafes and galleries, though nothing fancy. Nature sites nearby include a drive-in volcano, botanical gardens, and waterfalls. Also nearby is a hot spring where people like to go for mud baths. If you see tourists getting out of taxis covered in dried mud, that’s where they’ve been. The hotel can arrange guides for all this and more. If you are feeling adventurous, you can arrange to hike Gros Piton, where trails have varying degrees of intensity. For a real insider look at Saint Lucia, ask the hotel to give you one of the guides whose ancestors were among the black freedom fighters who used the mountain as a haven during the slave rebellion of 1748.