Love and Architecture at Jade Mountain
Jade Mountain is a love story. It’s the blending of the love of St. Lucia’s famed Piton volcanic mountains and one of the most breathtaking views in the Caribbean. It’s the love story of how Nick Troubetzkoy, a Canadian trained architect created his vision for a five star resort and destination spa on the west coast of St. Lucia at Soufriere. It’s also a love story for most of the couples and honeymooners who visit. Jade Mountain is a one-of –a-kind resort. Partnered with its sister resort Anse Chastanet, we discovered that it’s about beauty, nature, modern art, and a blending of architecture into jaw dropping scenery. All this with truly exceptional gourmet food and service, Jade Mountain propels relaxation to the highest level in an adult only resort.
The quality of the food at Jade Mountain can’t be over emphasized. The resort boasts an American Academy of Hospitality Sciences five star rating for food and service. Much of the organic produce is grown on the owner’s surrounding 600 acre plantation including mangoes, spices, and chocolate used in their so named Caribbean culinary festivals. We had homemade rum and raisin ice cream that instantly became a lifetime favorite. By day two the staff had an understanding of our food and beverage preferences, and was suggesting a favorite tea. With English Butler Academy trained butlers (they call them major-domos) at your service to fulfill any need, the attention to detail was superb. The Guild of English Butlers means that these professional hoteliers can unpack for you, arrange for your favorite foods at preferred tables, acquire hard to find items, and aid in travel arrangements. They are available 24/7 with the push of a button on your firefly, a small little cell phone that you are given for the duration of your stay and which contacts the front desk or your butler instantly.
The rooms are called sanctuaries for a reason. They are huge, offering a fantastic view of the two famed Pitons (or mountains). The Pitons are the two volcanoes that UNESCO has deemed a world heritage site, and are bordered with a lush canopy of rainforest. St. Lucia is awash in color, even during the dormant season when we were there. The turquoise of the Sea, the silver of the volcanic sand, a rainbow of flowers, and the most beautiful multi-colored hummingbirds along with the spectacular St. Lucian parrot can best be described as a feast for the eyes.
Most of St. Lucia is mountainous and covered in rainforest. The whole island is only 29 miles long, but you can expect driving the length of it to take over two hours. The roads are switch back and a bit of a roller coaster ride- especially along the east side of the island. Bring your Gravol or other travel-sickness medication if you are driving around the island much. We read one report that suggested that “St. Lucia allows you to get in touch with your calf muscles” which we found to be oh, so true. Almost everything in St. Lucia is uphill or downhill (and it seemed more uphill to us), and everyone is expected to climb flights of stairs. Meals at Jade Mountain meant that we had to climb 10 flights of stairs to get to the dining area, with no elevator option. Fortunately, the food would motivate anyone to climb. If you are mobility challenged, you can request an upper room, but it is a resort on a hill and the lay-out of the resort requires a level of fitness to in order move around easily.
The rooms (or sanctuaries as they are called) are self contained units that come with everything you need to relax (no television, phone or radio). The sanctuary does have its own tranquil infinity pool in the three sided rooms which means you have the best of living both inside and outside for your entire stay. (authors note: The sanctuaries are rectangular with no outside wall. That means open air in all the rooms, dining and common areas. It is a very different concept, and one of the few places in the world that has limited bugs, very few mountainous creepy or slithering things, warm weather, offers reasonable shelter from hurricanes and tropical storms and is relatively crime-free and difficult to access along the mountain-side. Think tropical camping with decadent comfort and push of a button service. The sanctuaries really do have to be seen to be believed.)
The full 29 rooms were occupied during our visit, but the place seemed empty, with everyone living in their villa-like sanctuaries or taking in one of the adventure excursions. With a majority of people able to do anything from sunbath, partake in gourmet room service, swim, and relax completely undisturbed for the entire time while never leaving their rooms, the sanctuaries offer absolute privacy for couples wanting to get away from it all. Jade Mountain really is romance personified. The small touches are well thought out. There was local poetry on the pillow (St. Lucia boasts the highest percentage of Nobel Lauriat’s per capita on the planet) and live guitar music at dinner. The owner’s cocktail party and the sunset cruises added to the ambiance.
As therapists, we’ve long believed that adventure leads to connection within a relationship. Anything that gets your adrenaline pumping together will bond you as a couple. One of the driving reasons to visit Jade Mountain is the duality it offers. At Jade Mountain there is the aforementioned complete tranquility of the sanctuaries, as well as the opportunity to take in couple adventures off the resort. We went zip lining, and during that tour had a quick lesson in the growing of bananas, bay leaves and cinnamon. We checked out the historic town of Soufriere. Other adventure couples took in the whale watching, rum tours, volcano hiking, and ocean kayaking. The honeymooners we spoke to were just happy to be together and uninterrupted. Many were on the joint honeymoon package with a half-and-half stay at Jade Mountain and Anse Chastanet (where there was more beach living and marine life). Jade Mountain offers a shuttle service that can take you up and down to the beach that is situated on the edge of a protected marine area. A number of beach bars and restaurants are included on your Jade Mountain meal plan at the beach level Anse Chastanet resort so you only have to make the strenuous hike (or not-so- strenuous short car ride up the hill) once per day.
Jade Mountain is well on its way to becoming a complete destination-spa resort as well. Between a full menu of organic, low fat foods and a holistic health professional spa director with a well-trained staff (including a former US Navy fitness instructor), you can heal the body as well as the mind. And as mentioned, you have easy access to the famed volcanic hot springs and mineral baths which have been espoused to cure everything from arthritis to intestinal disorders. With all this emphasis on health (and all of the stairs to climb), you can avoid the five pounds of holiday bulge from too many umbrella drinks. You actually may return leaner than when you left without feeling like you’ve missed out on amazing food. It will be worth watching Jade Mountain’s evolution into a new level of spa and health centre.
Jade Mountain, while spectacular, is priced outside of normal vacation budgets, and lends itself well to short “get-aways” or long weekends. We travelled lightly and were able to get on and off the island over three days. We met a Miami physician and a New York lawyer who loved how they could arrive easily and leave without once hearing a telephone. It is perfect for intimate honeymooners, or couples wanting to recharge together. Many of the guests fly in via helicopter from the Hewanorra International Airport in the south of the island (which is a seven-minute flight), and land on Jade Mountain’s own private heli-pad.
With all of these amenities, Jade Mountain firmly falls into the highest end romance resort destination as the place to try this year.