TRAVEL BLACK: ST LUCIA EDITION
Updated: Feb 17, 2022
The Ultimate Guide to Black-Owned Accommodation, Tours, and Restaurants in St. Lucia
Final boat ride for with Joy Tours to catch a glimpse of the Pitons from the bay
Saint Lucia needs no introduction. It’s a dream destination for lovers and explores alike with both lux and budget options for your stay. If you’re waiting on the right time to go, here is your sign.
Now if you've read the title, you might be wondering why a Black-Owned travel guide to Saint Lucia is even necessary. Great question. The island, like much of the Americas, was a profitable venture for European colonizers -- so profitable that Saint Lucia changed hands between the French and British 14 times as they fought for control of its lucrative sugar industry. However, this “goldmine” came at a cost. Saint Lucia’s wealth was built on the backs of enslaved Africans who experienced unfathomable suffering as a result. Let that sink in. Everything that Saint Lucia is today is, in part, a direct result of the brutal practice of slavery. In most postcolonial societies, those oppressed or displaced by this system often remain the most impoverished or marginalized; thus perpetuating the travesties of the past into the present. It’s believed that 65% of Saint Lucia’s GDP is from tourism and with 85% of the population identifying as African descent you would think that the lion share of the wealth on the island belongs to Black Saint Lucians. This unfortunately is not the case, although Black Saint Lucians have made inroads in ownership. Since tourism dollars can make a material difference in the lives of locals, I encourage travelers to be intentional about how they spend their money on vacation. No, supporting the descendants of enslaved Africans does not rectify what has happened but it can help.
Amazing horseback riding experience with Sandy Hoof Stable (Locally owned but not Black owned)
Where to Stay
Although the whole of St. Lucia can be driven within a few hours, transportation can be expensive. For example, from the airport (in the very south) to Rodney Bay (in the north) can cost upwards of $80USD. It is advised that you select an area based on your desired activities. If you have time, staying in both the north and the south will give you the best of both worlds. However, my preference is Soufriere.
It’s important to note that if you are not Covid 19 vaccinated you will not be able to leave your resort unless you are going on Covid 19 authorized tours or tourist locations. As of May 31st,2021 all visitors and nationals who are fully vaccinated are now able to enjoy expanded access to the destination which includes dining at all locations, social events, and many of the typical travel activities (visiting local markets, etc.) with social distancing and without an authorized guide.
Pros and Cons of the North - Areas that fall into the northern category in Saint Lucia include Cap Estate, Rodney Bay, Gros Islet, Castries, and surrounding communities. Pros include the nightlife and more access to white-sand beaches. Cons include that many of the island's weekly parties, the biggest in Gros Islet Friday nights have been temporarily canceled. Additionally, although this area is not close to all of the attractions in the south many tours leave out of this area with a possible upcharge for transportation. The north of the island is best for travelers who want to be part of the action; people who like to reconnect with nature during the day, but want to eat out, have a drink and join the fun at night.
Pros and Cons of the South - The south of Saint Lucia encompasses areas like Soufriere, Choiseul, Laborie, Micoud, Vieux Fort, and other communities in that vicinity. By far the most popular is Soufriere which is home to the Pitons; St. Lucia’s most iconic feature. Pros of this area include many of the island's attractions like Sulpher Springs is located here. The island's most beautiful hotels are also in the area however many come at a hefty price tag. The south is ideal for those who want to dive deep into nature or have a secluded vacation getaway.
Disclaimer: I received a media rate and tours from some of the companies listed below. Your trust is invaluable to me, therefore I am writing my honest opinion regarding my experiences in the hopes that you would find this information helpful.
Fond Doux Eco Resort
Probably Saint Lucia’s best-kept secret, Fond Doux is an unassuming contender as one of the island's most unique hotels. I stumbled on this location by simply asking a local influencer if she knew of any Black-Owned accommodations worth checking out. She raved about Fond Doux and the owners, Eroline and Lyton Lamontagne, who are Saint Lucian and run the day-to-day operations of this former plantation. To reserve time here, guests book cottages of varying sizes. Each cottage preserves the designs of a previous era but adds modern touches. A major downside of the property is that there aren’t any views of the Pitons from the rooms although you can hike a trail from the property, I believe, to catch a glimpse of the mountains. I skipped the included breakfast since I typically do not eat first thing in the morning but, friends I met on the grounds raved about it. Fond Doux also offers concierge services to book tours and experiences on and off the property. I loved the chocolate-making tour with lunch that showed us the process from cocoa bean to bar. The good thing is, If you’re not a guest at Fond Doux, you can still add this awesome experience to your itinerary. I was impressed with how diligent the team was about Covid 19 safety, but I must say this is common throughout the entire island. Depending on your length of stay, a free return Covid 19 test is included to return home. Last but not least Fond Doux has the best staff/hospitality that I experienced on the island. Every interaction was a genuine attempt to help me have the best stay possible (here is some of the fun we had). The owners made an effort to greet most guests personally and share a few insights about the property. I felt at home and honestly wished I stayed at Fond Doux for my entire Saint Lucia experience. PS. DO NOT FORGET TO HAVE A FLOATING MEAL IN THE POOL! I did not know this was available (possibly at an additional cost) during my visit so I missed out on the opportunity. However, from my friend's images, it looks like it was an epic experience! Fond Doux Eco Resort RWCX+RXR, Fond Doux, St Lucia https://www.fonddouxresort.com/contact/
Enjoying the private plunge pool at my Fond Doux Cottage
Bay Garden Resort Located in the northern section of the island, Bay Garden Resort, not to be confused with the inn, is a great location for those looking for all-inclusive amenities. The rooms are clean and colorful but dated. Throughout my stay, the staff was friendly and beyond helpful. Since I forgot proof of vaccination at home, my movement was restricted. The night of my stay I remained on the grounds and enjoyed their acclaimed seafood lasagna and rum punch. Live music entertained a few guests, and I successfully tired myself out dancing to the great vibes. The owners, Joyce and Desmond Destang, have an impressive portfolio that includes exclusive/lux properties. This is a great alternative if you’d like to stay in the north, support a Black-Owned hotel, but a resort atmosphere is not your speed. Last but not least, one of the most unique offerings of Bay Garden is Splash Island Water Park St. Lucia which is also under black ownership (Julianna Ward-Destang). Bay Gardens Beach Resort & Spa Rodney Bay Village Gros-Islet, Saint Lucia Gros Islet, 0978900 https://www.baygardensresorts.com/beach-resort/contact-location Other properties within the Bay Gardens' Portfolio: https://www.baygardensresorts.com/waters-edge-villas
Poolside fun at Bay Garden Resort
Stonefield Villa Resort Stonefield Villa Resort is a property renowned for its breathtaking views of the Pitons. Easily one of the most stunning accommodations on the island, Stonefield boast of 17 French colonial-style villas for guest to enjoy. You will not be disappointed if the purpose of your stay is to capture great photos and tranquil space. The grounds are Instagram-worthy at every turn. However, at this price point, one would expect excellent customer service which was lacking during my brief stay. To start, I was greeted by an unenthusiastic receptionist who neglected to give us the full details for check-in. The resort is fairly large and to communicate your needs to the staff a cellphone is given to you upon arrival. We did not receive one. In Bali, Zanzibar, and now in Soufriere St. Lucia, I have experienced swarms of flying insects that appear around dusk and are attracted to light. Since we were not given the means to alert the staff of our issue, we were left to deal with the bugs on our own and they eventually made it into our suite. To be clear this is to be expected in tropical locations, but a little support or education from staff would have minimized this nuisance. That night we headed over to Mango, the restaurant on location, to enjoy dinner. It was apparent that the swarm of insects made reservations here too, but to the staffs’ credit, they did their best to minimize the disturbance. Although the menu options were limited, I was please with my selection. Here is the thing. Our waiter was possibly new because he did not seem to know much about the menu nor did he return to our table to check on us. Our food took an exceptionally long time, but there was no explanation for the delay. This can be considered a rookie mistake but in combination with the other grievances this added insult to injury. Last but not least, after checking out of my suite the next morning, I headed back to Mango restaurant to take a few pictures at the main pool. The wait staff was attentive, cordial, and knowledgeable this time around. After placing my to-go order, I attempted to find the perfect spot to take a photo or two. After some time I noticed a woman glaring at me. I didn’t have a mask on so I assumed that was the reason and I intentionally donned the face-covering when I was not actively taking a picture. However, the looks continued. I eventually inquired with the waitress about my observer. Y’all … it was one of the owners. Stonefield Villa Resort RWVR+Q5 Belle Vue, St. Lucia https://www.stonefieldresort.com/en/about/contact-us/
Stonfield Villa Resort