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Island Summer Nights……

Pondering the week’s adventure ahead of me while crammed into my American Airlines economy seat, the last thing on my mind was wine. No, I was dreaming of white sand beaches, turquoise waters, warm tropical breezes and gently swaying palm trees. I had just under an hour to go until touch down in beautiful St. Lucia, West Indies.  The week prior, in fact I’d say the last 6 months prior to the trip had been a complete blur.  I was preparing for my wedding and this trip was our honeymoon. 

As anyone who as ever planned a wedding can attest, the stress involved seems to peak around the last month and a half to month before the actual event.  That is when you realize that all the procrastinating you have done has finally caught up with you and oh by the way; the final payments to the DJ, photographer, florist, etc, all are due.  So, with the wedding ceremony complete and the reception a huge hit, it was now off to St. Lucia for a much needed honeymoon. 

As we approached the island of St. Lucia, I was amazed at the mountainous landscape of the island and the deep blue ocean waters surrounding it.  I had been to the Caribbean before, but never this far south.  As a frame of reference, St. Lucia is approximately 1,300 miles south of Miami.  It is one of the Windward Islands and is located within a chain of other Eastern Caribbean islands.  Its closest neighbors are Martinique which is 21 miles to the north and Barbados which is 90 miles to the southeast.  St. Lucia is 27 miles long and 14 miles wide with a combination of high mountains, forests, low lying lands and beaches. A central mountain range runs the length of the island, with peaks ranging between 1,000 and 3,145 feet. The two towering volcanic cones on the southwest coast, Gros Piton (797m) and Petit Piton (750m) are one of the Caribbean’s most famous landmarks.

Pitons too much

Landing at Hewennora International Airport in Vieux Fort takes you back to a time when air travel was simpler.  Passengers disembark down air stairs and then walk across the tarmac to the open air customs queue.  Once you have checked in with customs and received the proper stamps, it’s off to grab your bags and look for a taxi.  Fortunately for us, we were staying at the Sandals Grande St. Lucian resort in Gros Islet, so they had already arranged for the transfers to and from the airport.

The ride from the airport to the Grande St. Lucian took just over an hour and a half.  It took us through small seaside villages on the Atlantic Coast, up over the central mountain range and rain forest and finally through the capital of Castries on the Caribbean Coast and on into Gros Islet.  Sandals Grande St. Lucian is located on Rodney Bay on a man made causeway which was built in the 1970’s to connect the mainland with Pigeon Island.

Pig Islan Too web site

Sandals has three resorts on St. Lucia, The Regency, The Halcyon Beach and the Grande.  The Grande is the largest of the three resorts, but by staying at any one you have access to the other three via the daily shuttles that run in between each of the resorts.  Arriving after our hour and a half ride to the Grande, we were assisted by the concierge service for our check in and in no time found ourselves in our Honeymoon swim up room.  The concierge had placed a chilled bottle of champagne in the room so we immediately popped the cork and toasted to surviving the long taxi ride to the resort.  Champagne consumed, it was time to find something to eat.  If you have ever been to an all inclusive resort, you know that there are plenty of food options to choose from.  Being new to the resort, we decided to make it easy and stop at the first restaurant we came too which ended up being the Bayside Grill.

room too much

This is where wine came into the picture, while preparing to order a couple frosty tropical drinks; the hostess informed us that Sandals resorts had recently partnered with Beringer Vineyards to provide premium house wines and higher end wines found on the Managers and Chairman’s wine lists which are available for purchase. Aside from partnering with Beringer they also started an innovative educational program – the Platinum Wine Certification by Beringer. Restaurant and bar staff undergo this certified training program to give them more tools and information about wine. This new certification program aims to greatly enhance the wine experience for resort guests.  For house wines, Sandals offers Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay under the Beringer Stone Cellars label.  For Managers or Chairman’s the offerings are even greater.  So we decided to forgo the tropical drinks for the evening and try the Beringer Stone Cellar Chardonnay. 

As I stated earlier, you may not think of wine when you are traveling to the Caribbean, but you should.  Many resorts have developed wine programs and offerings in an effort to “raise the bar when it comes to luxury,” as the Sandals site states. Wine offerings at resorts have become just as important as the size and number of pools offered, or the location of a beach in relation to a resort. 

sandals too much

For the remainder of the week we bummed around the resort partaking in free flowing tropical drinks during the day and the Beringer Stone Cellar offerings during the evening.  We also took in the local sights through the many tour offerings provided by Sandals.  Like all good trips, this one ended too soon.  After 8 days on the island it was time to brave another taxi ride back to the airport and the 5 and a half hour flight (including layover in Miami) back home. 

If you are planning on taking a trip to St. Lucia, there are several things that you can do while on the island:

Take a land or sea tour to Soufriere where you can visit the Caribbean’s only drive in volcano.  When you take the sea tour you will travel from Castries harbor on a catamaran down the coast past Anse La Raye a quaint fishing village and into Soufriere passing under the majestic Pitons, Gros and Petit.  In Soufriere you visit the volcano and visit the Diamond Botanical Gardens.  Following lunch, you board the catamaran again for a trip back up the coast where you stop in at Marigot Harbor to take in the scenery. 

marigot bay too much web

You can visit the rainforest and zip line through the tops of the trees, rent ATV’s or even take a horseback ride.

 Check out the following sites for more information on tours and resorts:

St. Lucia Island Website-

Sandals Web Site-

Until next month Salude!!

sunset too much

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