Words and photos by David Danzig
It’s difficult to sleep when they’re looming there. Like a natural panoramic 4K television, the open-air, three-walled suites at the Anse Chastanet Resort in St. Lucia are positioned to look across Soufrière Bay and there, like organic skyscrapers rising out of the ocean, the hulking twin peaks of the Piton Mountains pierce the otherwise vacant morning sky. They are just too soul-stirring to let me go back to sleep.
Officially proclaimed UNESCO World Heritage sites, the mountains possess a palpable energy like phantasmagoric beings, breathtaking and surreal, one of which (Petit Piton) even appears as the symbol of the St. Lucian national flag. So, when the morning light ascends across the bay and illuminates their dramatic silhouettes, the view makes sleep pretty much impossible.
But at a place so beautiful and extraordinary, why would you want to sleep in, anyway? Anse Chastanet Resort sprawls across 600 pristine, undeveloped tropical acres teeming with sugarcane and banana trees, with two soft sand beaches and a marine reserve protecting miles of colorful coral reefs. This is truly a vacation where you can get your fix of jungles, mountains, and beaches all in one place.
You arrive at the property via a hilly, cragged road and check into one of 49 whitewashed cottages, each uniquely named for a variety of flora: amaryllis, citronella, banyan, ginger, and passion flower, to name a few. The rooms and suites are delightfully rustic-chic, decorated with local art, woods, and other local products giving them a one-of-a-kind feel. Cushions and bedspreads are made from a unique pattern of rich madras that also doubles as the island's "national cloth." The rooms are sanctuaries—havens for a rare disconnected relaxation where there are no phones or televisions, and only 2G internet speed and patchy WIFI. When you are here, you have truly escaped.
When it’s beach time, descend 100+ steps down the hill to a crescent stretch covered in soft volcanic sand dotted with palapa umbrellas and chair setups. Small flags attached to wooden stakes are situated at each station, and upon being stuck in the sand, will summon a member of the staff who will bring you the fruity drink or snack of your choice. Anse Chastenet beach connects via a walkway to a sister beach, Anse Mamin, which features a grill made from an antique sugarcane kettle and produces one of the best cheeseburgers on the planet.
The jungle lies just beyond the sands of Anse Mamin, where the ruins of an 18th-century French colonial sugar mill spread into the forest. Hike on cleared paths through acres of foliage, including wild orchids, cacao pods, and no less than 60 types of mango trees. Or borrow one of the property’s mountain bikes and pedal through 12 miles of private trails where rare birds swoop overhead and land crabs scurry across the jungle floor.
When it comes time to dine, Anse Chastanet, with the consulting brilliance of James Beard Award-winning chef Allen Susser, takes farm-to-table literally, sourcing organic produce from the resort’s private farm in the nearby Soufrière hills and plating it beautifully at the resort’s three dining outlets. The cuisine ranges from Caribbean/Creole fusion to a St. Lucian/Indian hybrid to sustainable seafood creations to vegetarian delicacies aptly using indigenous plants and roots.
St. Lucia is a fascinating island with a complex bounty of natural diversity and a rich tapestry of history, which Anse Chastanet skillfully presents in an authentic, yet rustic-luxe experience. With 5-star amenities and top-notch cuisine set among world-class beaches, jungle experiences, and jaw-dropping views of the Pitons, it’s pretty much as complete a vacation as you can get. Just don’t expect the mountains to let you sleep in.
Know Before You Go
Delta flies from New Orleans through Atlanta (ATL) to Hewannora International Airport (UVF). The drive to Anse Chastanet Resort St. Lucia from the airport takes an hour. There is no air conditioning in the rooms, but the breeze of the northeast trade winds, along with fans, keep the temperature perfect. Mosquito nets over the beds ensure a bite-free night’s sleep. There are a few 110v outlets in the room, but most are 220v, so a voltage converter (with USB ports) is a good gadget to have. When booking a daily rate, it is possible to book a room only (EP plan), or add a breakfast-and-dinner plan (MAP), an all-meals plan (FAP), or an all-inclusive plan (AI). These meal plans are optional except during the travel period December 20 - January 3, when the room rate is based on the breakfast-and-dinner plan as the minimum plan. Rates start at $390 for two EP and $570 for two MAP in low season. (Low season is June 1 thru October 31).