On the exotic island of St. Lucia, modern architecture and a 1983 copy of Western Living are the ingredients for an epic romance.
Anyone who’s spent any time in St. Lucia knows it’s a magical place. Its verdant green volcanoes, far from threatening, appear to be the most peaceful in the world. Its beaches are smooth black sand; its people warm and welcoming and as new parents in Vancouver, my husband and I were looking to escape to somewhere romantic and secluded, and St. Lucia hit every mark. But, as I soon learn, in a fantastic case of kismet, the romance I discover is a grand one my hosts at Jade Mountain had experienced in my own homeland, two decades ago. But more on that later. For it isn’t until a few nights into our stay at the luxe Jade Mountain resort that I get the full picture of how enchanting the place can be, despite the impressive introduction: emerging from a dry and steep hillside, the resort has swapped out hallways for open, elevated bridges; suites are decked out in greens, blues and red textiles that shimmer like the sun on water. Jacuzzi baths are equipped with chromatherapy to keep your mood on point. Our Star “sanctuary” is without a fourth wall, leaving it open to the elements (hello, sunsets). Topping it all off is a waist-deep infinity pool. Happily ensconced in that sort of beautifully natural luxury, I am certain nothing could out-romance our perfect retreat to St. Lucia. And then I meet the owners, Nick and Karolin Troubetzkoy. Making chocolate at Boucan. Back in St. Lucia, he was spending more time with a German expat named Karolin. And while St. Lucia is paradise, relationships aren’t always so; in one of the couple’s down periods in August of ’83, she made the decision to flee to the furthest place she could imagine: Northern Alberta, where she would work on her finance thesis. “I didn’t want to be in the Caribbean,” she recalls, “and the furthest place I could think of was Alberta.” Arriving at her hotel in Edmonton, she dropped her bags and, tired and alone, sat down and flipped through the pages of a magazine that was on the side table. There, on page 27 of Western Living, was a feature on a home renovation in Calgary, done by architect and St. Lucia resident Nick Troubetzkoy. It was capital F, fate. “I saw him in the magazine, and that changed everything,” explains Karolin. She rang him immediately to tell him, and the conversation begat a reunion, which begat 29 beautiful years together (and counting). Snorkelling just off the shore of Anse Chastanet. When I return to my suite later that night, I ride the night’s romance in one of those blissful dazes that one can never plan: the room is lit with candles, the nighttime chirping of crickets, frogs and birds fills the background. A bath has been drawn for me. Fate, it seems, can reach you anywhere. But St. Lucia appears to make you a much more conspicuous target. WL Stay Nick Troubetzkoy designed every aspect of 29-room Jade Mountain that juts out from the hillside like a luxury spaceship. Butlers cater to your every whim but it’s the unobstructed views of the Pitons that are worth every penny, thanks to the missing fourth wall in every suite.jademountain.com In addition to Jade Mountain, the resort owners also have Anse Chastanet, an idyllic island retreat with not one but two beaches (a sunny driver will happily scoot you over to the more remote beach via water taxi). Rooms open to the Caribbean Sea and are adorned with hanging baskets and madras linens. It’s like the cocktail party to Jade Mountain’s main event.ansechastanet.com Eat The island is home to 52 varieties of mangoes but just three varieties of the cacao bean and Boucan restaurant is the spot to find inventive uses for estate grown chocolate. While some dishes go overboard (the citrus salad with white chocolate dressing), most are surprisingly good, like the tomato, chilli and cacao ravioli.hotelchocolat.com/uk/boucan Anyone with a boat and an anchor can stop at Anse Mamin and dine at the Jungle Grill. There’s only one thing to order here, and it’s burgers. Opt for the traditional Johnny Cake instead of a western bun, throw in a couple of steel drums and a table under the palm trees, and then spend an hour or two figuring out how to never return to reality again. Do Skip the crowded and far-too-tchotchke shopping in Castries and instead rise bright and early for the Saturday morning market in Soufriere, where locals barter for the week’s groceries and purchase all manner of vegetables, nuts, fruits and seafood. A word of warning: it’s common to see whole animals being hacked to bits by impossibly dull knives. Not for the faint of heart.