A new five-star resort in St. Lucia feels like your own personal Garden of Eden
My hair still damp from a last-minute dip in the pool — a desperate attempt to make this mini-escape last just a wee bit longer — I stared at the fluffy clouds outside my airplane window contemplating the decadence of the past few days. I had been invited to St. Lucia as part of an intimate press group; I flew in on Thursday and was headed home Sunday night. Serenity is the newly opened adults-only five-star-plus all-inclusive resort in Fort Vieux, St. Lucia. A five-minute drive from the airport and I was transported light years away from work deadlines, dirty dishes and the stress of life. Road rage was replaced by smiling golf cart drivers. Instead of a cluttered house with an endless chore list, I had my own sanctuary, with a butler, who unpacked for me, ironed with a smile, brought me a perfect cappuccino every morning and generally tended to my every whim. Very different from my actual home, where I tend to cater to everyone else’s whims. The sound of blaring sports or heated political discussions was replaced with the soothing cacophony of my personal splash pool waterfall. Serenity is aptly named.
More than ever, we need places like Serenity at Coconut Bay. It’s an unparalleled haven where couples can rekindle or girlfriends can reconnect. The romance factor is a twelve on a scale of one to ten, but it’s also a setting that girlfriends will embrace for its beauty and supreme service.
The world needs more people like Shebee, driver and guide extraordinaire — and Auntie Debbie, whose cooking skills (and vocal chords) will blow you away. During a “land and sea” tour of the island, Shebee inspired us to cheer, “One perfect love!” on cue, whenever he would say, “Love, love, love,” as he regaled us with his version of St. Lucia’s history and happenings. A highlight of the journey was having him decorate our swimsuit-clad, mud-covered bodies with darker mud at the Soufrière Sulphur Springs and Mud Baths (an add-on adventure that can be arranged by Serenity staff).
Dipping his hands in a bucket filled with the creamy black potion said to have healing powers, he went to work, and soon handprints and finger-painted polka dots turned our bodies into living canvases. When his paint-job was done, our group looked like extras from Broadway’s Lion King, ready for the stage. We let the mud dry and posed for pictures before slipping back into a pool of hot ashy water to rinse off, our skin noticeably softer. Mother Nature’s spa treatment is a must for anyone visiting St. Lucia.
The best thing about Serenity is the spontaneous joy that flows through the property. Even with just a few days there as a solo traveler, I witnessed so many unforgettable moments that are the stuff of fantastic vacations. When you make a spur-of-the-moment decision to take a dip in the sea and you suddenly see the full moon rise through pink and blue clouds. When the dashing kite-surfing crew senses your curiosity, hands you gear that you’ve never seen before in your life, and patiently shows you how to pose with a kite so that you look like a giant human butterfly. When gifted Chef Auntie Debbie breaks into a sweet St. Lucia ballad that makes your heart do a waltz. (Mark Adams, CEO of Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa, lured her out of retirement. She had her own restaurant on St. Lucia for many years and was a professional singer before that. Her cuisine is extraordinary, and her personality divine.)
Guests checking into Serenity are led not to rooms, but to one of 36 suites, or rather, “sanctuaries.” There are couples who may never want to leave their own private area during a vacation. Inside, oversized soaking tubs, stone showers and alluring mahogany beds beckon. The smallest villa is 1,200-square-feet; the largest is 1,900-square-feet. Spacious patios feature hammocks, plunge pools, wet bars with refrigerators, and outdoor showers. Your personal butler can deliver meals (and whatever else you command) via a discreet passageway. The butler is summoned with a cell phone, and ‘no’ is nearly a forbidden word. If you don’t wish to walk the flower-laden stone path to the Greathouse for dinner, meals can be served in your own personal paradise. When you’re ready to swap out the sound of the plunge pool waterfall for the sound of actual waves, ask your butler to take you to one of the handful of beach cabanas that sit on one end of the mile-long stretch of sugar-sand that’s one of Coconut Bay’s greatest assets. These sweet private pods are the ultimate in seaside luxury, only available to Serenity guests. Champagne? Chocolate-covered strawberries? Fresh sushi delivered in a picnic basket? Just when you think it can’t possibly get more romantic, an afternoon spent in one of these cabanas will push the passion meter even farther.
There are also small touches that count big. When you return to your sanctuary each night to a heartfelt, handwritten message tucked into a towel sculpture. When Chef Eric joins you at the open-air, six-tables-only oceanfront restaurant, La Luna, and carves meat right onto your plate, explaining each dish to the sound of the waves. When you ring your butler to request preparation of a hot bath, and upon your return, find not only a tub full of bubbles, but also a bottle of chilled bubbly waiting for you.
Once you set foot in Serenity, you also have the option of visiting the rest of Coconut Bay, where 250 more rooms and five swimming pools offer another holiday realm in two parts: Harmony (adults-only) and Splash (family-centric) where a lazy river and water park add energy and variety to this stunning St. Lucia vacation mecca. Everything is within easy walking distance, but golf carts are the preferred mode of transportation. The restaurant selections at Coconut Bay are outstanding and include Asian fusion, Caribbean fusion, pizza and barbecue. There’s also a small spa for use by guests staying in any of the accommodations.
Your soul will feel pampered just being at Coconut Bay (and especially Serenity), but to help your body catch up, you can choose an open-air massage room with a view of the ocean, or enjoy a spa treatment in your own exclusive sanctuary space. For a twist on the traditional hot stone massage, try one with heated seashells. There’s also a chocolate body scrub to remind visitors of the island’s cocoa production. Just like at the restaurants, at the spa there are no bad choices on the menu!
This dose of paradise will cost you (rates start at $999 per person per night, but current specials offer up to a 65 percent discount!), but it’s a splurge that’s worth every dollar spent. And in the long run, not seeking these opportunities for authentic stress relief where you can be drenched in romance and restore your soul in a setting that emanates joy (and, yes, serenity!) will cost you more.
For more information: www.serenityatcoconutbay.com