With Covid-19 sticking around longer than we anticipated, some of us are considering travelling again and when dreaming about escaping, it’s the Caribbean and St. Lucia that beckon. The island has a safety rating of Level 1 by The Center for Disease Control (CDC)—one of only 8 countries globally rated to be this safe from COVID-19. Judging by the 16,000 visitors, St.Lucia has welcomed since reopening in June it is certainly a place to holiday safely.
During the lockdown, one place I dreamed about returning to was Coconut Bay Beach Resort in St. Lucia, having been there in February. It is truly a resort that has something for all ages. With 85 acres, numerous pools and a long sprawling beach, it is fitting for a “fly and flop” holiday but also well set up for those who like to stay active. A five-minute drive from the airport, you can be on the beach shortly after your plane lands. Guests could stay weeks and never run out of things to do. Judging by the high numbers of those returning, that’s exactly what they have in mind.
Choices for what to do during a day are plentiful with kayaking, paddle boarding and snorkelling which are all included. Kayaking on the Atlantic is a world away from kayaking on lakes in Canada. Made more exhilarating by high waves cascading over us and the kayak, we returned many times during the week. Aquafit classes and other activities are a great way to keep moving. Kite surfing is available at the Surf Shack for an additional fee. There is also a basketball court, tennis court, volleyball and a football pitch. The island’s only paintball course is a lure for teenagers, and a petting zoo is also on-site for the little ones.
Nine restaurants offer options from dining at indoor, outdoor, and oceanside locations, making it one of the biggest daily decisions to make. The menus range from casual to signature high-end dining serving local meat and fish alongside fresh vegetables and herbs grown on the property in their greenhouse. I have many food allergies and intolerances, and they were personally catered for at every meal.
Seven bars are sprinkled throughout the property including a swim-up bar and Paradise Bar that is so far down the beach, if you can walk past inviting hammocks in the water to get to it, it seems away from the resort, but isn’t. Make sure you ask about the drink of the day!
There is a tour desk in the front lobby to arrange local tours with a list of Covid-19 certified tours. I would recommend the Catamaran Sea and Land Adventure offered exclusively to the guests that sail to the Pitons and has several opportunities to snorkel in locations around the island as well as a visit to the Soufriere Volcano and Sulphur Springs. Any tours have to be booked 24 hours in advance.
Accommodations feature a family section as well as an adult-only section so everyone is happy. Serenity is a new section separated from the main building with 36 suites all with personal plunge pools and butlers.
For a bit of pampering (that we all need right now) is the Kai Mer Spa. Ocean views from every room, the full-service spa offers massages, waxing, scrubs and wraps. A scrub with locally grown St. Lucian chocolate is a favourite as is the local coconut oil used in every massage. Locally grown Aloe Vera is also used in several treatments. Separate private cabanas are reserved for couples massages, each with a beautiful view of the ocean and the Maria Islands are visible in the distance. Popular with honeymooners, many of whom have been married on the property with the help of an onsite wedding planner.
Entertainment nightly is impressive and has something different every single night. One evening showcased the local passion for Country Western music, a legacy left by U.S. military stationed on the island during the 1940s, The resorts entertainment team wore western hats and shirts and danced along with the singer belting out tunes from Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash.
For families with small children, Cocoland has the largest water park and Kidz Klub on the island. The water park has a winding 1500 foot lazy river with inflatable tubes to sit in to enjoy the ride, so much fun that many adults were on it too. A water fountain playground just for little ones, and three scream-inducing waterslides. The icing on the coconut cake is the fully enclosed Coconut Canon, a super-fast waterslide that splashes down through a waterfall and into the plunge pool.
Kidz club accommodates newborns to 12 years of age. On Day One, children receive a knapsack, t-shirt, hat and interactive book to learn about the island. Kidz Club is open 9-5, with nightly activities so parents can have dinner with the little ones then bring them back to enjoy a pirate party, kids karaoke or a hayride. Local cellphones are provided to parents so they can check-in. Photos of the kids during a variety of activities are taken during the week and at the end, the kids make a scrapbook out of it to show parents what they have been doing. Well trained ECE staff proficient in first aid are on staff all day and evening. Children with special needs can be accommodated.
The Kidz Club and Cocoland will have specific hours of operation broken into sessions to allow for deep sanitation protocols between sessions. Participation will be by reservation to abide by Government protocols. As always SCOUTS (Seeing, Crafting, Observing, Understanding, Tasting, Saint Lucia) welcomes infants to 12-year-olds and there are three age-appropriate programs for 3 and under, 4-7 and 8-12 with a curriculum designed to cater to the different interests of each and still include nature walks, playtime in the waterworks, petting zoo visits, coconut painting, family tye-dye and arts and crafts. For teenagers, The Zone paintball will be operational as it’s an ideal game for social distancing.
Situated between Martinique on one side and St. Vincent and the Bahamas on the other, St. Lucia is primarily British, with driving on the left side of the road as it was under British rule. It was also under French rule at times, which is why French is often overheard being spoken at the resort and on the island.