By Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon
CJ Travel Editor
St. Lucia’s newest adults-only all-inclusive resort, Serenity at Coconut Bay, opened in June. The 36-suite enclave is a resort-within-a resort at Coconut Bay Resort & Spa, part of a sprawling 85-acre estate that hugs a mile of beachfront in the town of Vieux Fort. Last week, we checked in to the south-side retreat to see if it lived up to its high-end hype. And we were impressed. Here are seven things we loved (and you will, too) about Serenity at Coconut Bay.
The Location Until Serenity came on the scene, visitors in search of a high-end St. Lucian hotel had to resign themselves to around an hour’s drive from Hewanorra International Airport, traversing narrow winding roads to the central town of Soufriere and even further to resorts in the capital, Castries. But now luxury lovers can literally go from baggage claim to resort in five minutes, whisked from the airport via private car directly to their suite, where they’re checked in. Better still, staying on the island’s southern tip puts visitors within easy reach of St. Lucia’s most popular attractions. From Serenity, the twin peaks of Pitons are a leisurely half-hour sail from the village of Laborie (15 minutes’ drive away) and the “drive-in volcano” and sulfur springs in Soufriere are 45 minutes by car. So whether you get motion sickness or your just plain impatient to get the vacation started, Serenity’s a solid choice.
The Suites The resort refers to its suites as “sanctuaries,” and the nomenclature really isn’t an overstatement. Each of the villa-style suites is surrounded by a high white picket fence, behind which lies a cloister so comfortable and well-equipped that guests really needn’t leave. At the top of the three room categories, spacious Grand suites feature bathrooms with soaking tubs, walk-in showers and double sinks; two TVs (one, in some suites, pops up from a cabinet at the foot of the king-size bed); two closets; and a lounge with a sofa, coffee table and coffee and tea service. Conceived by Jamaican designer Phillippa Rousseau, all the light-filled suites are decorated using an appropriately soothing palette of grey, blue and white, incorporating native stone tile and flooring and mahogany woodwork. Butler service comes standard, regardless of room category, and room service is available around the clock.
The Decks But as comfortable as the suites may be, what really sets them apart is their exterior spaces, which allow you to live as well indoors as out. French doors lead out to a wood deck with its own private plunge pool and a wet bar complete with a stocked fridge (replenished daily). Most suites also boast outdoor showers (is there any greater luxury than bathing outside?) and a dining gazebo for meals al fresco. And the resort takes great pride in the fact that each sanctuary has its own pair of coconut palms – all the better to string a comfy hammock between.
The Privacy Remember that tall picket fence we mentioned? That head-high enclosure; room service that’s available 24 hours a day; as well as your own wet bar and pool mean that you needn’t leave your room to satisfy any of the most common vacation needs. It also means that you needn’t get dressed to satisfy any of those needs. Just slip into the provided cotton robes – or not.
The Service “We never say no,” one of the managers told us when we asked about the standard of service at the resort. And indeed, over the course of our visit we found that whatever we desired, the answer was always an immediate and enthusiastic “yes.” It didn’t matter whether we wanted to borrow some bug spray, an extra helping of shrimp mac and cheese, a bubble bath drawn or an impromptu riding lesson on the adult tricycles they use to deliver room service, our butler Tony graciously and promptly arranged it.
The Exchange Privileges Although Serenity’s footprint is petite (comprising a cabana-bordered pool, The Greathouse restaurant and a poolside bar), its guests enjoy access to an entire world beyond its borders at neighboring Coconut Bay Resort & Spa. All the amenities of the 250-room all-inclusive (for adults and kids), including five restaurants, seven bars, five pools, the island’s only water park; a spa; gym; and a mile-long sweep of sand are at your disposal. Personally, we preferred to park ourselves in a quiet cabana by Serenity’s pool, where we were served watermelon mojitos with pleasing regularity. But, as they say, your mileage may vary.
The Extras At resorts, as in life, little things can mean a lot. And Serenity we found a lot of little things we loved. How cool was the room service “mailbox,” a hole in the wall, accessible from both outside and inside, that allowed us to pick up our midnight order of munchies without seeing a soul (or even getting dressed). We appreciated the aqua loungers, sensuously curved plastic chaises half-submerged in the pool that kept us cool as we soaked up the sun. The full-size Kitchenaid blender on the mini bar was a first for us, and the three provided cocktail recipes a thoughtful touch. And we really loved the convenience of in-suite spa services, which meant that after your massage there’s no need to rouse yourself to dress and leave. Instead, your therapist simply slips away, leaving you to enjoy your blissful state. And, dare we say, more moments of Serenity.