A Wide Variety in Resorts in St Lucia
Staying at a Sandals in St Lucia got us the benefit of being able to stay at one resort but sample all three Sandals resorts in St Lucia. During the week in St Lucia we spent most of the time at our base at Sandals Halcyon but visited both the La Toc and Grande resorts. Each of the Sandals resorts had its own unique flavour and key attractions. When our flight home got cancelled, we were put overnight in a resort of a totally different flavour. This one left a distinctly less appealing taste in our mouth.
Quiet Sandals Halcyon Beach As Our Base
We chose the Sandals Halcyon Beach as our base resort for our stay in St Lucia. It was the smallest and quietest which would suit us just perfectly. It was about a 15 minute drive north of the capital city of Castries.
As we had found when we visited Sandals in Exuma, the resort property was beautiful and well maintained. The gardeners were always out pruning and staff spent mornings sweeping away what the wind and rain dropped on the paths.
The beach was clean and sandy. The drop off into the water was shallow and easy to walk in the whole way. We did not need the reef shoes we travelled with. If you wanted to spend your day on the beach, you could get a beach chair and even a wind cover.
Lots To Do At Sandals Halcyon
Sandals Halcyon offered the typical wide variety of water sports – sailboats, kayaks and even stand-up paddle boards (SUPs). David was going to finally try SUP but we ran out of days on this trip.
One day we went on a Concierge excursion to go snorkelling. This gave us our first taste of the colour and variety that we would find under the ocean in St Lucia.
We hit the water sports area the first day to talk about scuba diving. As certified scuba divers, we are always glad to find scuba diving included at the Sandals resorts. We had missed the boat trip on the first day but booked for two days when the planned dives looked good. The scuba diving in St Lucia was not to be missed! It was so much better than we expected.
The Halcyon resort had a quiet pool closer to our room where we typically could be found. The large pool had lots of sun loungers and a bar staffed with the ever-popular bartender Agnes. If we had been out in the morning, we invariably ended our day just floating in the quiet pool. If you wanted a more lively scene, the main pool had music and games through the day. But this resort was known as the tamer resort, so if you really wanted to party or play, you would be heading to one of the other Sandals resorts.
We are not really night owls so we really didn’t go seeking out night entertainment during our visit to the resorts in St Lucia. The night of the chocolate buffet was an exception! We had first been spoiled with this Sandals tradition in Exuma. That week we got two chocolate buffets – one on the regular night and one on Valentine’s Day. We made sure to stay on the Halcyon resort the night of the chocolate buffet. Starting with Chocolate Martinis, we were not disappointed with the wide spread of chocolate put on display. We made sure to sample our way along the display.
Wandering Around Sandals La Toc
Sandals La Toc was the second of the resorts in St Lucia that we visited. La Toc is a very large 210 acre property that includes a golf course. The resort is spread across many levels from the sea and up the treed cliffs. It is located just south of Castries. Travelling to or from La Toc on the Sandals shuttle requires a transit though the town and along the port. This transit time was often doubled if you did it in rush hour or when a cruise ship is in port.
We had taken the Sandals boat past the La Toc property several times when snorkelling or scuba diving in St Lucia. The main resort was at sea level where you could find a crescent-shaped beach in the cove, the main activity pool, reception and the very large buffet restaurant.
The rest of the resort was uphill from there. Luckily the resort provided a shuttle around the property. The first stop up the hill was at the Piton Village with another pool and restaurant. Continuing up the hill you got to the upper level with Armando’s Italian Restaurant, another smaller pool and a series of brightly coloured buildings with two story suites with their own soaking tubs. The rooms in these buildings looked out over the cliff to sea and at night they could see the lights sparkling in Castries.
If you looked even higher up the hill on the Sandals property you would find the Oceanview Bluff Millionaire Butler Villa Suites. These exclusive villas are 150 feet above sea level atop a picturesque sunset bluff with private pools. But if you looked higher to the point you could see a private villa would make even the Sandals exclusivity pale!
Sandals Grande was touted as the party place in the group of resorts in St Lucia we visited. It was located at the far north end of the island by Rodney Bay, about 15-30 minutes by shuttle from Halcyon. We had actually snorkelled beside the resort when we visited St Lucia for the day on our Caribbean cruise.
The property is on its own peninsula with the main pool and restaurants in the centre.
There is a mile long generally calm beach with lots of water sports. This resort has its own larger boats anchored in the bay to head out for snorkelling or scuba diving. But since the better underwater sites are on the south end of St Lucia, it is a longer boat ride for them.
We had dinner one night on the pier at Gordon’s. We could watch the sun go down over the water before dinner and sit by the fire pit on the dock after the sun was down.
We heard that the nighttime entertainment was much more lively at Sandals Grande. In the early hours after dinner, we spent some time listening to the soulful music played on the beach patio.
We did not hang around for more entertainment.
When our flight home got cancelled, the airline scrambled to find accommodations for everyone. We pushed to be put back at Sandals but the airline had other hotel relationships. Quickly trying to check reviews on the hotel options I only knew that I did not want to go to the hotel where all the families were being sent! This would be the last of the resorts in St Lucia and I was not looking forward to it!
I couldn’t believe it when we were put back on a shuttle to the other end of the island again. We had really hoped to be able to stay at a hotel on the south end. But that was not to be. When the shuttle pulled up at the tired looking motel-like resort, many of the people had the same look on their faces. This was nothing like where we had spent the last week.
The resort staff did their best to deal with very grumpy travellers who were dumped on them with no notice. If you only looked at the large pool area that looked out over a sand beach, you might think the resort was ok.
Then we were shown to our room in the very last building. The view looked out over a wall studded with broken glass. We would hear the locals partying as they accessed the public beach using the road beside our room. Such a let down from the resorts in St Lucia we had visited.
While we could eat at any time of the day or night at Sandals, we found ourselves waiting several times to get something to eat. Not great on a travel day when food had been limited already. When the buffet finally opened, there was a limited choice of food but it was hot. Certainly not the gourmet fare we had gotten used to at Sandals!
We would not be booking a return stay at this one of the resorts in St Lucia.
Leaving the Resorts in St Lucia
During our week vacation in St Lucia, it was great to try a number of different resorts in St Lucia. All of the resorts were on the Caribbean side of the island which meant calmer waters and great sunsets (when it wasn’t raining). They were all on the north end of the island. We really would have liked to try a resort closer to the scuba diving on the south end of the island. We will check that out for our next return visit.
What resorts in St Lucia have you tried? Are there nice resorts on the south end or will we have to fend for ourselves?