With golden sands, azure waters and year-round sunshine – not to mention the buzzing street parties and delicious local cuisine, it’s no wonder tourists in the know flock to Saint Lucia. Northwest of Barbados and south of Martinique, the largely French or Creole-speaking haven is known as the friendliest and safest of all the Caribbean islands, beloved in particular by couples looking for a romantic getaway, blissful honeymoon or unique wedding. And, for them, there is nowhere better to stay than the magnificent Rendezvous.
The all-inclusive five-star resort is strictly for adults and couples only, so the dulcet tones of the little darlings and disruption of noisy hen parties couldn’t be further away. At Rendezvous you’ll get tranquility, luxury and pure indulgence. And, naturally, some damn fine rum.
We arrived at Hewanorra Airport and were whisked off to a helicopter pad, from which we were flown in minutes over pristine sea and lush forests to Rendezvous. The alternative is a scenic 90-minute car journey driving through pretty winding roads and across hillsides. Rendezvous is nestled in seven acres of gorgeous tropical gardens on the two-mile stretch of Malabar beach. Once a coconut estate, St Lucian planter Dennis Barnard built his family home on Malabar beach 50 years ago. The house was later extended to include 20 bedrooms for guests, before growing in size and popularity to become Rendezvous in 1993.
Today, the Caribbean resort includes 100 rooms and suites varying in size, location and price. Last year it had a cool $12.5million renovation, sprucing up the swim-up bar and extending the beach. Also renovated were the Seaside Suits and – my own home for the week – the Verandah Suite. The veranda in question overlooked lush green gardens with a glistening bright blue slice of the sea up ahead. Highlights of the sleek interior? A king-size four poster bed and glorious free-standing bath invite you to relax, unwind and get into holiday mode pronto. Spacious and modern, the suite’s verandah is perfect for cocktails watching the sunset on the horizon.
Cocktails in any of the three bars or food from any of the three restaurants score a definite five stars in both taste and service. In fact, the staff are so friendly and lively we found ourselves embracing them upon every encounter (whether or not they were brandishing a tray of drinks). While the main Terrace bar overlooks the beach, the pool bar has stools in the water so you can swim straight to your mojito. And it would be rude not to order a glass of something sparkling at Rendezvous’ dedicated Champagne Bar – which stays open until the last guests decide to leave. Yep, you can stay all night if you wish and the Champagne will keep on flowing.
And the next morning? Breakfast on the main terrace is a buffet of colourful fruit platters, freshly made omelettes or eggs any way you like, pastries and fry-ups. In the evening, you have a choice of testing out local Caribbean delicacies or going for internationally-inspired fine dining. And the brand new Malabar restaurant is so beachy that you leave your shoes at the door and enjoy fine wine and steak with your feet in the sand.
Ah that beach. Dotted with sun loungers, inviting you to relax and just read another chapter of your book. Relaxation is what Rendezvous does best. For the health-conscious, there’s a state-of-the-art gym, watersports are offered daily and outdoor classes include yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, aqua aerobics and morning or sunset walks with a guide. The resort has no less than three swimming pools, one with a Jacuzzi above it and another designed as a winding stream, with heavenly Bali beds to lounge on.
No luxury holiday would be complete without a visit to the spa. Between Balinese and Hawaiian massages, I tried an exquisite Ginger and Lime Salt Scrub. It removes dead skin and toxins, smells and feels divine and not only brings out my tan but prolongs it because my skin is so soft, while giving it a shimmer that lasts all day. Couples can opt for massages together amongst the many other offerings for those getting married or enjoying their honeymoon.
But you don’t have to spend every waking moment together if you don’t want to. The Maldives, while stunning, is quiet and extremely private, whereas here couples hang out, talk to each other and engage with the friendliest and most accommodating staff you will ever encounter. No request is ever too small and staff are genuine, warm and welcoming.
Thankfully, the influx of travellers have not blighted St Lucia’s charm. No Starbucks, shopping centres or theme parks are to be found here: Just vast, beautiful landscapes begging to be hiked, snorkelled and explored. We took a tour of the Sulphur Springs, walking through a volcano, and taking a steaming mud bath in natural springs. The majestic twin mountain peaks, ‘The Pitons’ are the most-popular tourist attraction, at 2,530 ft and 2,438 ft high respectively. Guides will lead you to the top for spectacular views and swimmers can snorkel and dive in the sea between them.
With the array of culture, food, music and beauty, I conclude that Rendezvous might just be my new favourite place in the world. When can I go back?
Rooms at Rendevous start from £238 a night. The Verandah Suite is priced from £266. For more information and to book, visit the Rendezvous website.