To celebrate my 40th birthday (which was on Christmas Eve), we travelled to St. Lucia for an all inclusive, luxurious holiday at Sandals Halcyon Resort in Castries. Never before in my 40 years have I been on holiday in December and it was GLORIOUS!
Although we stayed in Castries, Marigot Bay, Rodney Bay (apparently the ‘Beverley Hills’ of St. Lucia!) and Soufriere were all very popular places on the island too.
Retrospectively, my personal loves, likes and loathes of the holidays were as follows:
The weather! Rainy season is between June-December so we had blazing, brilliant sunshine every single day except New Year’s Eve. However, one rainy day did nothing to subdue the beauty and our appreciation of the resort and, as it was still so hot, actually felt very refreshing.
The various comfy/relaxing areas aplenty around the resort: two pools, three whirlpools, a hammock, swing chairs, cabanas, and fire pits surrounded by squashy cushioned settees.
The water and land activities: kayaks, paddleboards, hobie catamarans, water volleyball, scuba diving (not included unless you are a certified scuba diver), pool tables, shuffleboard, giant chess, tennis and croquet. We booked extra activities outside of the resort too and I particularly enjoyed: sailing on a catamaran & snorkelling in the Caribbean sea (although who wouldn’t!?!), visiting a cocoa plantation, trekking through a rainforest and horse riding (one of my 40 for my 40th wishes!).
The choice and convenience of food and drink – the resort housed Kelly’s Dockside Bar & Grill (located on stilts in the sea at the end of its own pier!), the Bayside (which became a French restaurant in the evening), Kimono’s (tepanyaki), Mario’s Italian, Soy Sushi and a pool side bistro bar. We sampled them all! I personally loved Kimono’s (especially the sake based cocktails!), the New Year’s Eve feast, and the brilliant breakfast and lunch buffet selections at the Bayside.
The beautiful surroundings! The resort was being constantly maintained by gardeners and the effort matched the outcome – the trees, flowers and shubbery were all pruned and watered and presented perfectly. White stone paths weaved throughout the resort and the postcard pretty beach was immediately accessible via a few steps.
The generally relaxed atmosphere, although certain aspects of the entertainment were perhaps suited better to extroverts e.g. the main pool hosted audience participation games which was sometimes funny to watch but not for me personally to partake of!
Therefore, I liked the quiet pool more!
The room amenities and quick service if something wasn’t restocked or if we needed anything extra.
The activity pick up times were usually extremely prompt (as someone who hates lateness I appreciated this!).
On our final day checkout was 11 a.m. but we were not leaving for the airport until 4 p.m., so I liked that we were given another room in which to freshen up in before we left. This meant we could enjoy the majority of our final day more than just hanging around clock-watching.
The customer service overall was very good (but we did get in trouble for not following the correct entrance/seating protocol a few times!). We learnt that we were meant to use main entrances only and always wait to be seated, even in the more casual eateries.
The free shuttle provided between three Sandals hotels – the Grande, La Toc and the Halcyon.
I discovered a phobia of Sea Trekking – wearing a heavy oxygen helmet whilst walking on the sea bed – it was far too scary and claustrophobic for me.
The new guest orientation on our first day felt more like an hour-long sales pitch. I would have preferred a quicker guided tour rather than hearing about the (expensive) duty free jewellery shop and the loyalty schemes.
Being stung by a jellyfish!
Although I loved the excursions, they were overpriced when booked through the resort. Although it was obviously extremely convenient and we were transported to and from the activities, we later discovered that some were almost double the price of paying directly.
All the hi-fiving from the sales staff.
The aggressive bag carriers at the airports – tips were expected even if bags were literally taken a few steps after being hijacked from you!
The distance from the airport – about 1.5 hours along rickety roads!
All in all, despite not usually going for traditional beach getaways, I had a truly amazing holiday and I would definitely recommend Sandals Halcyon Resort in St. Lucia. I would definitely go again!
Claire @ http://www.homebirdhang-ups.com