I fancy myself an intrepid traveller, the kind Paul Bowles wrote about in the Sheltering Sky. *
But I'll be honest: I will eat street food — if it was recommended by my local friend. I will confidently navigate a local market — especially if it’s an IGA. I will make my way across a mountain — in a taxi. And I really like staying at resorts with Molton Brown products, especially ones that are new to me (like Green Park Neroli and Cedar).
On a recent visit to St Lucia, I spent a week living more or less local (meaning: without Molton Brown products). It was cushy local, with a chef and a view, but still, we had to figure (some) things out and make our own beds in the morning. So it was with pleasure that my family and I arrived at The Landings on Rodney Bay, and relaxed into its hammock-like safety net for a few days.
Within hours, I had met a New York mother of four, the kind of woman I’d be friends with. “We come here every year because it’s so nice and so easy. We get a three-bedroom suite with a plunge pool, and spend every morning at the beach, and every afternoon at the pool. We have lunches in our room and dinners out. It's great."
We checked into our two-bedroom suite and saw what she meant. It was open, airy and beautifully appointed, with Miele appliances, Rosenthal dishes, and Tivoli clock radios. All of the lights were on dimmers, creating atmosphere everywhere, and the living room wall opened onto the patio, with an outdoor table, loungers, and plunge pool. Beyond our patio was The Landings’ small harbour, where a smattering of yachts, power boats and catamarans were docked.
Since our visit was short and we wanted to try it all, we ate dinner our first night at The Palms, the formal restaurant open a few days a week. It was memorable, with a torrential rain falling around us while we sat with our kids at a beautiful table on the verandah. We stared with a dish of beautifully prepared local shrimp with lentils and mango. It was amazing. Disappointingly, there wasn’t a local fish on the menu (only lobster), so my husband and I had lamb and short rib; both were very good, and welcome after a week of seafood. The kids happily ate fancy macaroni and cheese followed by ice cream.
The next day we followed the magical formula: morning at the beach, afternoon at the pool. While my definition of an ideal beach is still rooted in my Florida childhood (if it’s not two miles of empty, white sand, I’m not interested), this trip has made me appreciate the small beaches of this hilly, volcanic island. We visited one with dark grey sand (Anse Cochon, where I wouldn't return), one where white sand is delivered annually from Guyana (Jalousie Beach, where I would return), and the one at The Landings — which is soft, beige, and gradually sloping into the bay. With gentle waves and a smattering of rafts and re-purposed flags, it was a great place for digging pools, faux-kayaking, and giving rides. The view of Rodney Bay is expansive and picturesque, with moored boats, wind-surfers and distant hills. This is neither home nor Florida, and it’s good.
The Landings has three pools, a small one for a quick dip, and two larger ones — one away from it all, and one next to it all. But even the one next to it all is reasonably sized, low-key and elegant. Like everything else at The Landings, the pools are kid-friendly, but not just for kids. There are no water-slides, but there are huge sun shelves to accommodate water babes of all ages.
One of our best days in St Lucia, and one that could easily begin from The Landings, took place on a chartered sailboat. Traffic is heavy and the roads are bad, making St Lucia an island to see by water. Heading south from Rodney Bay, you could stop in the quaintest harbour in the Caribbean (Marigot Bay) for lunch (then stock up on Champers and snacks at MariGourmet) before heading down to Soufriere, and snorkling at Jalousie Beach. From there, you're at the base of the Pitons, the iconic mountains of St Lucia. And if you need more, you could drive to the volcano, walk to Pigeon Island, or zip-line across the rainforest.
With the addition of breakfasts at The Beach Club and a trip into Gros Islet for dinner at the hilariously well-rated and exceptionally good Spice of India, which a friend back home had recommended, it was time to take off. Forty-eight hours after landing, we were rested, rejuvenated and ready to return to the polar vortex — a task for only the truly intrepid.
* Wrote Paul Bowles in the 1949 novel which was later made into a movie starring Debra Winger and John Malcovich: "Another important difference between tourist and traveler is that the former accepts his own civilization without question; not so the traveler, who compares it with the others, and rejects those elements he finds not to his liking."