Above: Boucan by Hotel Chocolat in St Lucia (All photos by CJ)
By Alexander Britell
SOUFRIERE — I am a cacao grower. The sun is beaming on this morning in St Lucia. There is little shade among the leaves of Soufriere.
I’ve been gathering cacao fruit (and chewing beans) and grafting cacao trees all morning. Now a grafted tree, soon to be planted, bears my name.
This is not easy work, raising young chocolate.
But I’m not a cacao grower, I’m just sunlighting as one.
I am here because there is a hotel here, on the edge of Petit Piton, and this hotel, Boucan by Hotel Chocolat, is on a cacao plantation.
It is a cacao plantation.
The beans will soon become chocolate, and I will make a bar with a little sugar and cocoa butter.
I am also a chocolatier, and my humble bar is actually rather tasty, as I find out in the afternoon.
Because Boucan by Hotel Chocolat is first a cacao plantation., the creative canvas of Angus Thirwell and Peter Harris. And it is, second, a hotel.
It is first a plantation that has revivified the cacao industry in St Lucia, creating true single origin beans and training almost 200 local farmers in proper cultivation.
And it is second a hotel, because the hotel is one with the plantation, growing inside of it.
But a guest here is not a guest — a guest here is an aficionado — one whose passion for the cacao bean and the natural soul of St Lucia is deep.
And, if one feels like spending a morning as a grower (instead of lounging by the miraculous view at the infinity pool), one can.
This is not a large place — there are 14 rooms and a spectacular infinity pool for watching the Piton and an even more spectacular restaurant — with the latter the best on the island right now.
It’s home to tables where every dish is born of some state of cacao – nibs or powder or syrup or tea or something you can drink in a shot glass.
Above: the cacao beer jerked tuna
Cacao beer jerked tuna and cacao tortellini and a ribeye steak and a “chocolate genesis.”
Everything has cacao in it, although only sometimes can you taste it. But it is everywhere.
The rooms here are a a kind of eco-lodge-meets-luxury spa-with stone walled, wood roofed outdoor showers and netted poster beds.
You wake up here and you hear the birds and the leaves of Soufriere.
And then you have breakfast, and, if you want, you go grow cacao.