While most people may think of reggae and rum when they imagine the Caribbean, one word that may not come to mind is chocolate. That’s changing, though, and a recent trip to St. Lucia during Chocolate Heritage Month showed me that St. Lucia is right on the cusp of being a major chocolate-producing island. Come with me on my chocolate-filled, perfect day in St. Lucia and get an insider’s look into the burgeoning chocolate scene on this tiny, friendly island.
Start your day at Jade Mountain, the only hotel (along with sister property Anse Chastanet) in St. Lucia that both grows their own cacao trees and transforms them into actual chocolate. The first thing you need to do after waking up is call your butler and order breakfast. A traditional St. Lucian breakfast of Johnny Cakes, local fish and cocoa tea will get your day started right. At Jade Mountain, the outside walls of the suites are non-existent and, with private infinity pools in almost every room, you can take a swim while looking out at the gorgeous Piton mountains. It’s a great way to work off those Johnny Cakes. How’s that for luxury?
After your breakfast, head over to Boucan by Hotel Chocolat for their tree-to-bar experience. Hotel Chocolat operates a full cacao farm on the island and, soon enough, they’ll be building a factory and making a high volume of chocolate bars right there on St. Lucia. For now, though, you have to settle for a really intensive overview of the entire cocoa-growing process, ending with the chance to make your very own chocolate bar from cocoa beans you grind yourself. You’ll never be able to eat that grocery store chocolate again…
Since you’ve already invested in making your own food, why not keep the ball rolling? Jenni Killam opened her “Spices Cooking Studio” in Gros Islet after traveling all over the world and taking cooking classes on her own. Now she’s teaching you how to “lime” and cook at the same time. In St. Lucia, lime is also used as a verb that loosely translates to “party,” and Killam’s cooking classes are filled with rum punch and good vibes. Make a traditional St. Lucian fish stew and cocoa tea flan in the beautiful, modern kitchen studio right underneath Killam’s own house, then enjoy the meal on the back patio overlooking the lush greenery of St. Lucia.
You’ve been working hard, so it’s time for a massage. At Sugar Beach (a Viceroy Resort), the Rainforest Spa looks like a thatched-hut village full of dark woods and cool breezes. While celebrities enjoy the brilliant white sand on the beach, sit back in your treatment room with their chocolate mint massage using all-natural chocolate mint oil from Caribbean Blue. You’ll walk out smelling like a Girl Scout Thin Mint, and that’s not a bad thing.
The St. Lucia chocolate journey continues at Fond Doux, a 250-year-old plantation in Soufrière that has been converted into a rustic, eco-friendly resort with private cottages and demonstrations of old-school cocoa processing where workers did the “cocoa dance” by coating cocoa beans in its natural liquid to start the fermentation process. Enjoy dinner at Jardin Cacao, the “cocoa garden” restaurant where local dishes like crab back and red snapper dot the menu. Listen to the live calypso/reggae band and lime the night away.
When you’re ready to head to bed, find your way back up to Jade Mountain. Some hotels leave chocolates on your pillow, but without those outside walls, you don’t want to let the birds steal your chipotle or chamomile-infused chocolate bars, so a full lineup of creative chocolates will be waiting safely for you in the fridge. Go to sleep with the sound of the ocean wafting through your mosquito net and wake up the next day ready for another chocolate-filled adventure.
Connect with Jason @FlyDine