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Luxe St. Lucia

Ben Hoffmann A view of St. Lucia's Pitons, seen from the infinity pool in one of the suites at Jade Mountain, part of the Anse Chastanet Resort.

Photo: Ben Hoffmann

But perhaps the boldest play is being made by Jade Mountain. Set atop the highest point of Anse Chastanet Resort, near the west-coast town of Soufrière, the addition wraps around the hillsides. Designed by the resort’s owner, architect Nick Troubetzkoy, the exterior is organic and flowing, all sensuous curves and rough stone. Towering spires come out of nowhere and stop abruptly—rebars protrude from the ends like the tines of a dinner fork. Pedestrian bridges, large enough for a car, lead like gangplanks to the louvered wooden doors of each of the upper-floor suites.

Walk into the living area and, it seems, you walk right into the Pitons themselves. There is no "fourth wall" insinuating itself between the room and the view; the room is completely exposed to the elements. Several ceiling fans cool the space. Each of Jade Mountain’s 24 suites is unique, but they do share critical features: infinity pools from 400 to 900 square feet, soaring 15-foot ceilings, and an open-plan concept that might seem just a bit extreme—although cleverly hidden by curving half-walls made of crushed-coral plaster, even the raised bathroom is essentially part of one huge space. (As in the rest of Troubetzkoy’s rustic Anse Chastanet, there are no televisions, stereos, or phones.) This is, I think as I look around, a place clearly made for couples. Who know each other very, very well.

Not everything on the island is luxe. In the north, busy Reduit Beach, the island’s most famous stretch of white sand, seems cramped, pinched in by a monolithic wall of hotels. Towns like Soufrière and Canaries, although picturesque, need much more in the way of tourist-friendly amenities if they hope to entice visitors away from the resorts and into their streets. But there is one thing St. Lucia hasn’t yet developed that actually works in its favor. Tourist burnout, a common affliction on many islands, seems nonexistent. Everywhere I go, "How do you like St. Lucia?" is said so often, and with such authentic pride, that it might as well be the national anthem.

This means more than any Man Friday–equipped villa, I decide, as I wander the shanty-lined streets of Anse la Raye, a small west-coast fishing village where every Friday night the residents block off a main road for a fish fry. Jamaican dance-hall music pounds from a bank of speakers. Locals and tourists alike wander from stall to stall, checking out a ridiculous variety of fresh seafood: conch stew bubbles in a pot, skillets of crayfish and prawns crackle, and whole lobsters, as large as house cats, are hawked by the pound.

At 9 p.m., the party is just getting started.

And then the rains begin. The entire street runs for cover under the stalls’ canopies. Everyone—the Rastas with their harlequin tams, wan British women, the newly married couple from New York—stands together patiently, knowing the deluge will be over in minutes. I take out a notepad, jot a few things down. As the rain breaks, I look up from my notes to find a young woman smiling at me.

"What are you doin’?" she asks, the accent and cadence of her patois turning the question into a melody. "Writin’ me a love letter?"

I smile back. Could be.

Guy Saddy is a freelance writer living in Vancouver.

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