By Alexander Britell and Guy Britton
There are lots of great luxury hotels in the Caribbean.
But a truly Caribbean luxury hotel is a different matter entirely.
It isn’t easy to define Caribbean luxury — but you know it when you see it.
Caribbean luxury means a different level of authenticity, of service, of personality. It means a place that celebrates the local culture, the local community and the local environment, all without compromising on the kinds of traditional luxuries a guest expects.
A Caribbean luxury hotel has a soul.
And that’s the thing that stands out about Ladera, the rarefied adults-only hideaway perched above the Pitons in Saint Lucia, one of the Caribbean’s legendary hotels.
This hotel, which first opened its doors in 1972 and first debuted as a resort in 1992, was the originator of the open-wall, or three-walled suite concept, meaning your room is open to nature — and one of the best views on the planet.
The collection of 37 suites is set on a cliffside some 1,100 feet above sea level in this UNESCO World Heritage Site, with some of the most spectacular vistas at any hotel on the planet.
You can stay in either a traditional suite (all of which come with their own private pools) or the extravagant Paradise Ridge Suites, the newest addition to Ladera that are jaw-dropping examples of design.
But it’s the Caribbean luxury that is the story here, from the spectacular, locally-focused cuisine at the on-site Dasheene restaurant to some of the friendliest, warmest service you’ll encounter in the region.
But this isn’t just a hotel that celebrates Saint Lucia — it’s made of Saint Lucia.
It isn’t a stretch to stay that the entire hotel is build by hand. The rooms and the resort resound with remarkable wood carvings and wooden furniture crafted in an on-site woodworking factory.
When you look around your room, you see elaborately carved posts, coffee tables made from local trees — just about everything save for the Nespresso machine is made within steps of the suite, made from Saint Lucian wood. Yes, even the bed is made 30 seconds away from your room.
It’s almost overwhelming, the sense of authenticity, the feeling that the hotel is at one with this dramatic natural environment.
But the only feeling you do get at Ladera is one of almost impossible tranquility, an escape from the synthetic, a kind of interdimensional journey toward enlightened relaxation.
This this is a place worth traveling for, a bucket-list hotel, an experience that transcends a luxury hotel.
What Ladera achieves is stunning, marrying the unbelievable with the authentic. It all sounds like hyperbole.
But at Ladera, it’s very much real, it’s tangible, it’s there. It’s right in front of you.
And it’s unapologetically, wonderfully, impossibly Caribbean.
For more information, visit Ladera.