St Lucia, the only country named after a woman, was fought over by the English and French and changed hands fourteen times. As a result, the official language is English but French-based Creole is spoken by everyone; cars drive on the left as in the UK, but the town names are in French.
The mountainous island’s most recognisable image is the twin Pitons. Formed by erupting lava, they rise steeply to around 780m (2,600ft). Wildlife is abundant and there are a number of bird species that are endemic to the island. St Lucia also produces some of the finest cocoa beans and making your own bar of chocolate is one of the most popular tourist activities.
It’s hardly surprising that water sports also feature strongly and, after an absence due to covid, the world-renowned St Lucia Jazz Festival is back on the calendar. With so much to offer it’s no surprise that St Lucia is a popular destination.
Until recently my hotel was known as just Rendezvous. There has been recent significant investment and a slight change of name to StolenTime by Rendezvous, but the hotel is still a delightful all-inclusive, adults-only, beach-front hotel.
St Lucia’s international Hewanorra Airport is in the south of the island and the hotel is in the north. The transfer time is about ninety minutes, but it gives visitors an opportunity to sample a range of aspects, from mountainous rural scenes to the busy capital Castries. The hotel is actually next to the small George F. L. Charles Airport, used by inter-island flights, but its proximity does not affect the tranquillity of the hotel.
On arrival we were met by welcoming staff offering cold towels, and a bellboy to take our luggage, whilst we were led through the immaculate tropical gardens to our poolside room. The room housed a huge bed, comfortable chairs, a desk, two wardrobes and a chest of drawers. It led directly to the bathroom which contained a large tub in the centre whilst on one side were ‘his and hers’ wash basins with a huge mirror and separate magnifying mirror, and on the other side a lavatory and shower with both a ‘rain forest’ and smaller shower head that were controlled separately. There was a comprehensive range of toiletries and a shower hat.
Electricity is the standard 240v and UK square-pin plugs, so I didn’t need my adaptor. There were also a couple of USB sockets at the desk. The wardrobes contained a hair dryer, iron and ironing board as well as an umbrella. Well, there is the occasional tropical storm! There was also a fridge with water topped up daily and a hospitality tray with tea, a kettle, filter coffee machine, coffee bags and a good supply of long-life milk. Again, these were topped up without us ever needing to ask.
Outside the room, our terrace had patio-style sofas, cushions and a huge sunshade. There was also a large black ‘plant pot’, actually a water container enabling guests to wash their feet before entering the room.
The hotel has 100 rooms. Some are in the gardens whilst others are beachfront or, like ours, facing one of the two pools which also had a swim-up bar. It was just a few yards from the beach.
The main Terrace restaurant faces the beach. It is large and airy and offers a buffet breakfast and lunch whilst dinner varies between buffet and à la carte. The food was of a consistently good quality and the à la carte courses were imaginatively presented. Once a week there is also a beach BBQ.
There are two other restaurants, both included in the price. The Malabar Beach Club is right on the beach and offers à la carte lunch and dinner whilst the small Trysting Place, the hotel’s only indoor restaurant, is ideal for an intimate dinner for two. There was always a vegetarian option but there is also a separate vegetarian menu on request. For pre-dinner drinks the Champagne Bar was always packed and, after dinner, it stayed open until the last guest left.
The hotel is one of the most relaxing and peaceful places I have stayed in, perhaps helped by the fact that there are no TVs in the bedrooms or public rooms. The only TV is in the gym. The staff also generate a relaxed but efficient atmosphere. They seem genuinely happy to be working there, an impression we were able to confirm when speaking to them.
However, relaxed doesn’t mean bored. There is a large range of activities, from cookery demonstrations to archery lessons, and loads of water sports that include diving, hobie cats and kayaks. There is also a spa, gym and tennis courts which are floodlit. You can sit and read a book in complete peace and quiet or fill every minute of the day with activities.
The hotel describes itself as private, peaceful and unspoilt. I could not have put it better.
StolenTime by Rendezvous, Malabar Beach, PO Box 190, Castries, St. Lucia, West Indies.
Tel: +1(758) 457-7900 / Reservations UK: +44 (0)20 3096 1606 / Reservations US: 1 800 544-2883
The resort is located on Malabar Beach, a 2-mile stretch of unspoilt beach. Transfer time from St Lucia’s International Airport, Hewanorra, takes around 90 minutes.
Type of Hotel: 5-Star Boutique all-inclusive adult resort
Number of Rooms: 100 rooms and suites with complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the resort
Price Band: Direct bookings are from US$465 per person per night. However, most UK visitors will book a package through a tour operator with prices for a seven night stay from around £1,850 per person in the summer (low) season, £2,500 in the winter (high) season. That includes flights, full-board accommodation, all beverages, including premium brand alcohol, land and watersports, including motorised watersports and SCUBA boat dives with personalised instruction, unlimited tennis with the on-site pro, weekly manager’s cocktail party and nightly entertainment.
Insider Tip: As in the rest of the Caribbean, always pre-book taxis and don’t get into strange vehicles. The hotel will always assist and will also set up excursions for you.
Reviewer’s Rating: 9/10
Mike Pickup is an award-winning travel journalist and photographer who writes for UK national newspapers and magazines as well as travel trade titles.
Photographs by Mike Pickup