Greetings from Ladera Resort in Saint Lucia!
In case you hadn’t noticed, blog posts have become fewer and farther between in the past few months. I’m feeling a bit like a chew toy in Leia’s mouth – a little bit squeezed, a little bit deflated. Rick and I have been crazed trying to finish endless home improvement projects that are up to foster care code, and working mad hours on epic grand openings, and taking care of our personal health problems and managing family crises that seem to pop up every week or so. The next edition of Reflections from the Road is going to be a good one.
I felt like maintaining my sanity hinged on leaving the mess behind and high-tailing it to the Caribbean. A common thread in my nomadic life story…
Grinning from ear-to-ear to finally be on our way, we arrived to JAX at 6 a.m. on Saturday, parked the car in the economy lot and happily hauled our bags to the check-in desk… only to find out our flight from JAX to Miami was cancelled (due to “hurricanes” – huh?) and there was no other way to reroute us to Saint Lucia that day. The gate agent said, “Try back tomorrow.” Try back tomorrow? TRY BACK TOMORROW?! As if precisely organized vacations are just things you can try back on another day.
I shed a few disappointed tears at the airport, begrudgingly paid for a full day of parking and drove home like the saddest little girl you’ve ever seen, then I canceled all the excursions, helicopter rides and hotel reservations we had for that day and the next. We were scheduled to visit The Landings in Rodney Bay for two nights, but the cancellation put us in the position of having to skip that hotel, and the north side of the island, entirely.
The next day went notably better, but not without a sleepless night imagining another day of travel drama and Rick’s precious few vacation days slipping through our fingers. Another trip to the economy lot, a whirl of flights, gates, passport pages and customs questions finally lead us to an amazing taxi driver who told us everything we needed to know about Saint Lucia in the 45-minute, windy ride to the hotel.
When we finally arrived at the hand-carved wood gazebo at Ladera where check-in happens, I had to take a deep breath and physically shake off the stress. WE REALLY MADE IT.
Welcome to Ladera! You can remove your shoulders from your ears and unclench your teeth, crazy lady.
Ladera sits on top of a 1,000-ft. tall ridge connecting the Pitons, those towering triangles you see in every postcard from Saint Lucia. They say it’s the only resort situated on a UNESCO World Heritage site, having been built before the designation came about.
The suites stretch out in a crooked line along the edge of the ridge, varying in elevation, design and layout. They all have private plunge pools and an open fourth wall (something I confess I was hesitant about – you know how I feel about bugs), carved furniture from locally sourced hardwoods and Caribbean views to die for. Some have swings, waterfalls and butlers.
BUTLERS, y’all. It was bound to be a good week.
After a welcome cocktail, a cold scented towel and a warm greeting from staff, we found ourselves in an enormous suite toward the end of the line – Paradise Ridge 3. Paradise Ridge is the newest area of the property, which also offers breathtaking suites in other categories. We checked out 5-6 different rooms, Gros Piton, Dream, Hilltop and Rainbow Suites, and they were all spectacular, some with multiple levels and enormous living rooms, etc. I don’t think there’s a “bad” suite in the place.
I couldn’t help but utter a breathless WOW when we first walked in.
But seriously, what about that missing 4th wall?
It was the most concerning part of this whole adventure. Before arrival I wondered if this was all a big prank. Would this premium resort vacation with no air conditioning, no TV and no wall just amount to expensive camping?
Technically, without that 4th wall, you’re outside, semi-exposed to the elements, and presumably a jungle full of creepy crawlies. I confirmed in advance that beds have mosquito nets – my saving grace in Thailand when you-know-whats seemed to follow me everywhere – so I felt safe enough to give it a try.
And you know what? Now that I’ve lived in the middle of the Pitons and experienced waking up and going to sleep with one of the best views I’ve ever seen in my life, I think it would be criminal to have a 4th wall. The wind whipped through the valley, and as such from the front door through the wide open space of our suite and out to the open wall down to the sea, so the bugs were minimal if not totally non-existent. I didn’t have to wear insect repellant the entire week! You sure couldn’t get away with that in Florida. (Check out the drone footage we captured while at Ladera!)
(To be totally transparent, it’s probably not for everyone. If moths and a few small flying creatures freak you out, there’s a chance you might want to stick with resorts with all their walls. But for my particular phobia, I didn’t see a single such beast the entire time I was in Saint Lucia.)
With a butler (fabulous Schol and Keisher traded off duties), a private pool and our cute swing overlooking the Pitons, our time at Ladera definitely didn’t feel like camping. Even sans-A/C, we weren’t too hot most of the time. When it was warm, we just popped in the pool to cool off.
I slept pretty well in our four-poster bed, but it did take a couple days to get used to the wind and the cheeps and chirps from the birds, geckos, frogs and whatever-else-lives in the Jalousie Valley. The gentle twittering during the day grows to an outright roaring chorus in the middle of the night.
Of course, Ladera is the ever-prepared host, remedying the ruckus with a ‘necessities basket’ of earplugs, eye masks and a squirt gun to ward off any sassy rainforest birds who want to sample your Eggs Benedict.
For once, I didn’t mind waking up before dawn.
We arrived in Saint Lucia just in time for the full moon, which outlined the Pitons and the tranquil bay below in silvery light every night. Staring out at the mountains, jungle and the Caribbean Sea from my bed on the edge of the ridge, listening to the wind in the trees and the geckos chirping somewhere out in the valley was enough to make me forget the travel mishaps and cancellations we encountered on the way to Saint Lucia.
I don’t know why it always surprises me, but it’s the bad days that make the good ones so much sweeter.
Want to book at Ladera? Tune in to the next post where I share about the food, activities and everything else!
Thank you to Ladera Resort in Saint Lucia for hosting our visit. Opinions, observations and general musings are my own, as always.