The morning sun breaks through drifting clouds, flooding my balcony with tropical heat even at this early hour. The calls of island birds float across the lush, hushed grounds of the Royalton Saint Lucia. I grab my googles and head for a pool. This is my fourth and final day on this Caribbean island. I’ve been here to get off the grid, be alone with my thoughts and replace my daily dose of corporate-speak with the pleasing musically of patios.
The Royalton is silly with pools- all sparking, each with its unique allure- and just past dawn I have my pick of them for lap swims. Today I head for the adults-only Hideaway, climbing stone steps for a fabulous view of Smuggler’s Cove and the green hills that ring the resort. This pool is enormous. The 35 laps that make a mile swim at my gym at home are equal to just 12 here- and what laps they are. I immerse myself in a world of cool, shimmering blue title and some swim-up bar stools that resemble the silhouette of a distant underwater city. I spy a tiny crab skittering along a step, so young he hardly has a shell. He’s white colorful patches of orange and yellow.
Post swim, I order a banana smoothie at the beachside Dorado restaurant. The fruit in the island’s main export and is so fabulously fresh, I work it into as many meals as possible- none better than the pancakes delivered to my room the previous morning. Its another perfect morning in paradise. Pristine kayaks and sailboats, inviting in bold primary colors, sit ready in the waterfront area, soon to take more travelers on explorations beyond the beach. My gaze shifts across the cove and settles on a few residential homes tucked here and there in the Cap Estate neighborhood, where the wealthy have enjoyed the luxuries if exclusivity and isolation for decades.
Island History and Mystery
Saint Lucia, like all places rich in complicated history, has its fair of ghosts- some whose tales have been told and others whose stories have been lost, quietly carried away by time like grains od sand on a beach. Pirates, including the legendary Francois “Peg Leg” Le Clerc, favored its many coves, tucked into rugged volcanic hills.
Saint Lucia’s riches came from sugar, coffee and cocoa plantation. Throughout the 18th century through the 1830s when slavery was abolished, shiploads of Africans provided back-servants labor while locally born Creole population of slaves developed. Indentured servants from India replaced the slave workforce in the latter half of the 19th century. My driver, who gave me a lively narration of the island’s history on the drive to the Royalton from the airport, told me his grandmother was a slave, though she never spoke of those brutal days.
Today bananas are the chief agricultural export, mist sent to the United Kingdom, though the shifting winds of international trade kept that industry in flux.
So that’s a volcano
Gliding across the Caribbean, our catamaran passed the majestic Pitons, rising sharply and dramatically along the coast. Soufriere came into sight- a colorful congested village with narrow streets and wide charm. Our hour-long cruise here had been a tonic. Fresh sea air, abundant sunshine, a never-ending horizon dotted with distant islands ad a dress code of swimsuits are a formula that lends itself to easy conversation and fast friendships. Relaxed on the stretched ropes that created a hammock at the bow of the ship or seated inside near the captain and crew, our group instantly attached ourselves to our mobile devices, recording our good fortune.
The Royalton Treatment
The Royalton proves to be the ideal antidote to my suburban stress, its exactly the kind of place you’d want to hole up in for a multigenerational getaway, a self -contained property with abundant options for dining and unwinding.
An all-inclusive resort, it offers teens and tweens a bit of independence. You can give them a kiss in the morning and send them off to the teen club (a lively spot when I ducked in, with air hockey, ping pong and video games) and let them get lunch or a coconut gelato on their own. There’s also a drop-in kids club for ages 4-12, a playground, a pool era just for children and a robust number of daily activities for them, including fitness classes: one afternoon a saw a group making dolls, which looked like a lot of fun.
There are daily activities for adults too. I lazily watched a Zumba class in one pool, and I sipped a cold mojito with fresh mint while listening in on a stirring trivia contest beside another. The activities go into the night with talent show, disco dancers and more.
It was nice t have a private butler on call, which is one of the many perks of a Diamond Club upgrade. The Diamond Club is an exclusive area that includes a private pool, clubhouse and beach area, and even a pillow menu. My Trusty butler, who immediately answered my call with the special personal device provided just for this task, whisked away my wine-stained garment and returned two days later, restored to a brilliant white.
If you’d prefer an adult-only experience, Hideaway is tucked on the other end of the cove with its own restaurant, bar, pool and other niceties.
Saint Lucia has once again captivated me with its charms. My quest to be alone with my thoughts had led me to new adventures, new friends, new perspectives and, curiously, straight back to grid, to reconnect with family back home.