St Lucia is one of the smaller Caribbean islands, easily accessed by British Airways. Our hotel, Coconut Bay Resort and Spa, was situated on the Atlantic coast a mere 5 minutes from Henowarra International airport. We were here on a recommendation from my son and his wife and were looking forward to two weeks in the Caribbean sun.
The Atlantic coastal beaches have been plagued by Saragossa seaweed, making the beach almost inaccessible. This was a shame as the gardens of our hotel , with just a few steps, linked us directly with the Atlantic Ocean. Ever since we had arrived strong winds were whipping up foaming white surf, laced with Saragossa seaweed that it spewed out angrily, unrecognised and unwanted by its host, and directly onto our beach. Local information suggests the unusual appearance is as a result of climate change but is not entirely clear whether that has been proven. As a result the Hotel had arranged twice daily transfers to a Caribbean Sea beach located just 10 minutes away. I was looking forward to trying that out.
From our bedroom window a few hundred yards to the right a couple of large volcanic rock formations protruded from the ocean floor posing as mini mountains, or small islands. Brightly coated with a variety of green foliage they gave the impression of secluded islands decorated by white surf and sandy beaches. We were tempted out to these idyllic escapes with the offer of night cruises. It was a beautiful view and we were so fortunate to even be here to see it.
The hotel has two functions to serve those that don’t want to be disturbed by children and those children who don’t want adults spoiling their fun. For this reason the resort is split into Harmony and Splash. I will let you work out which is which. It is an all inclusive resort so peppered with cabanas, restaurants, swim up pool bars, jerk tree huts all feeding off the central lobby. The Coconut Walk buffet caters for most tastes and thankfully most children, leaving the fine dining to those of us able to actually appreciate it. Not that Coconut Walk didn’t delight in its range and variety of savoury and sweet delights, but the whole self-service school dining experience leaves me aching for silver service, especially on holiday.
Welcoming cocktails contain premium spirits so no chance of tummy upsets unless you over indulge. Wine, red, white or sparkling was also on offer and in the evening it was rather pleasant by the bar to take in the ambience of all types and characters disguised as holidaymakers gathering for dinner.
At the pool, staff aimlessly wander around taking drinks orders, impressively without pen nor paper, memorising the concoctions that needed to be delivered hastily just before the ice melted. Thankfully there were no quibbles about nabbing beds, there were plenty of options and more than a few swimming pools to chose from depending on your sun bathing needs.
We made friend with some Americans, here to be married, we shared a glass of bubbles in the evening with fellow diners, we sampled steak, tried out four other restaurants each with a Caribbean twist, found the staff courteous and helpful, always smiling and keen to know if you were enjoying your stays, they emanated a sense of pride and loyalty that was genuine in their conversations with guests.
Everything was as it should be; our sea view, spacious bedroom, balcony, swans crafted from towels and fresh flora fanned out on the bed welcomed us to paradise, and for a few moments we were.
Sadly its all over too soon, on the first actual day of our holiday an unforeseen drama which now bids us home began to unfold. Less than a week into our paradise we are waiting in the departure lounge of the airport not knowing what our future might hold……