The Grand Pitons
and the Jalousie Resort
Written by Rick Archer
Last Update: December 2012
Let's begin our
story with a trivia question for you.
What do Edinburgh
Castle in Scotland and St Lucia's Grand Pitons have in common?
The answer is both of
Pitons are volcanic plugs. So is the massive rock that
Edinburgh Castle is built on. One of my favorite examples of a
volcanic plug is the rock on
which the Saint Michel d'Aiguilhe chapel stands in France.
A volcanic plug, also
called a volcanic neck or lava neck, is formed when a volcano
becomes extinct. The molten rock in tube that carries the magma from
deep in the earth to the crater of the mountain cools and becomes
solid igneous rock. Usually the rock in the tube is much tougher
than the rest of the mountain.
After a plug is formed,
erosion will remove the softer surrounding rock while the
erosion-resistant plug remains. As the wind, rain and snow erode the
mountain away, the plug becomes exposed. This produces a distinctive
Another famous example of a
volcanic plug is Devil's Tower in Wyoming. You may remember seeing
it in Spielberg's
Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
exciting 2.5 mile boat ride from Soufriere, we stared in awe at the
powerful Pitons. They form an impressive pair of
monuments. Surely any ship can spot them from far, far
As it turned
out, this trip was about more than a close look at the
There was a
surprise waiting for us.
As we came
around the bend, we gasped in delight as we spotted an
incredible beach sandwiched
between the Pitons.
Behind the beach
was some kind of resort.
The beauty of
this setting was overwhelming.
On the right,
the yellow arrow shows where the white beach is located.
I never did
quite figure out why we used a boat to get there rather than
the van. According to Google Earth, there was clearly
a road that led from Soufriere down to the same dock where
our speed boat let us off.
However once I
was there I discovered a fabulous resort named the
Jalousie. It crossed my mind that this might be a
Private Road that led to the beach as opposed to a Public
Road. I read somewhere that the grounds belong
to the resort, so most likely road access is restricted.
This the Val de
Piton, french for Valley of the Pitons.
from above, I could not help but wonder if this deep valley was perhaps
once the center of an ancient volcanic caldera.
A caldera is
volcanic crater that has a diameter many times that of the
vent. It is formed by collapse of
the central part of a volcano or by explosions of
extraordinary violence around it.
often leave collapsed central calderas that are bordered by
Looking at this
picture, I can easily
visualize two-thirds of a crater.
ago, there was a third mountainous area that over time was
eroded away by the constant pounding of the ocean.
I'm not much on
botany, but I love geology! Perhaps Jalousie
Bay and the Valley of the Pitons is a volcanic caldera ridge.
I did not find anything on the Internet to validate my
guess, so be aware I could easily be wrong.
Here is a picture from above that shows Hawaii's famous
Hanauma Bay which is
located five miles from Honolulu on the Hawaiian
island of Oahu.
With its marvelous beach and wonderful coral reef, Hanauma
is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the
Hanauma Bay was
formed within a volcanic cone. This picture
clearly shows the original volcanic crater with one side
eroded away by the ocean.
As for the
valley of the Grand Pitons, the picture is clearly different
than this dramatic picture of Hanauma Bay.
Nevertheless, it is fun to speculate.
Okay, now it's
time for the good stuff. Feast your eyes on the most
beautiful beach I have ever seen.
picture gives a good look at the Petit Piton (left) and the
As we approached, I had no idea there was a hidden paradise
between these two mountains.
honest, I wasn't prepared for what we saw as we came around the
Suddenly I was witness to the most beautiful beach I had ever
Known as "Sugar Beach", it is owned by the Jalousie Resort.
picture gives a good idea how the beach is nestled between the 2
The waters are known as Jalousie Bay. The beach is "Anse
not get over how private this beach seemed.
Did these lucky people really have this place all to themselves?
Piton" as it is called is the definitely most secluded beach
I have ever seen. Mind you I didn't say the most "private
I learned half the beach is privately owned and half of it is public.
be surprised to learn this was once a "black beach". Most
beaches located near a volcano have black lava rock as sand.
In this case, someone covered the black rock with white sand
white houses above are part of the Sugar Beach Resort
really describe how cool it was to find this hidden paradise.
Once I finally finished
ogling the lovely beach, my curiosity turned to the resort behind
it. Cosol had stayed behind to attend to returning phone calls
and emails. One of his associates brought us over in the boat.
This man dropped us off
at the pier and explained that we were on the "Public" side of the
beach. If you study the picture below, you will see three
sailboats with colored sails and a speedboat. That's the
public side. The area with the palapa umbrellas and the lounge
chairs belonged to the resort. I never quite understood the
ground rules, but our group did make themselves at home across the
I didn't stick around to
ask. I was much more interested in exploring the beautiful
resort up on the hillside.
When I visited
this place in May 2011, the place was known as The Jalousie Plantation.
Apparently since my visit the resort was sold. In
2012, the property's name changed
to Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort
I believe the
white houses halfway up the slope on the right are part
of Sugar Beach
Residences. I think they are called the Luxury
Sugar Mill Rooms
As I said, I
was fascinated by the rising hillside behind the beach. At the
time, I had no idea that scattered up on that hill there are dozens of tree
house bungalows. You can look for them, but you won't see
them. The tree houses are hidden from view in the thick tropical
foliage. I know you are curious, so let me take you on a tour
of the resort.
these boats are for rent
picture shows that the beach was relatively deserted. Here
Kurt and Marla are standing in the shade trying to figure out
what the ground rules are.
me all you had to do was buy a drink and they let you hang out
on the beach, but you were not allowed to use the facilities.
example, this pool was definitely off limits to us.
Marla said she went in anyway. Tsk tsk.
passing the pool area, I crossed the well-manicured lawn
on my way to the building in the picture. As you can see,
no one was
around to question whether I was a guest or not
made it up to the white houses on the "Gros Piton" side of the
I stayed to the left which was the "Petit Piton" side of the
landscaping was exquisite.
these pink cabins were guest rooms
around and took a picture of the sea. Breath-taking.
behind the pink cabins, I discovered the existence of the tree
the first bungalow I came to. The sign says "Rainforest
came to a long wicker tunnel
the end of the tunnel
came to a tree house with its door wide open.
wasn't anyone in there so I went in and took a picture.
Now I came
to a series of tree houses linked by an elevated walkway.
houses were built in perfect harmony with jungle around them.
foliage around each house explains why it is invisible from the
houses were very high, but the forest canopy was even higher
was practically deserted. I only saw one person
time, I assumed these cabins were used as guest rooms.
when I researched the resort, I discovered these rooms are used
as rooms for private rubdowns. Notice the folded towels on the table
and in the cabinet above.
Personally, I thought these rooms were perfectly acceptable as
It seems a bit of a waste to dedicate so many romantic bungalows
just to the spa.
If you would like more information, here is a
website about the spa
the sauna room. The door was open, so I walked in
some massage tables
the rooms were completely undisturbed. Everything was perfect.
is the only person I saw working during my visit
Here is a picture
I found on the Internet. Very lovely place.
at least a dozen different tree houses. They were
scattered up a hill. Every one was built at a different
the wooden walkway.
This was Swiss Family Robinson all over again
I noticed a lovely little stream. Too pretty!
This stream originated at the top of the hill and was headed out
flowed right through the center of the tree house complex.
Anyone who has
read my travel story about
in the Bahamas and
in Hawaii knows I admire the talent behind man-made landscaping.
I also admire the architects who are given natural beauty and can
design structures that exist in total harmony with the environment.
noticed a staircase leading up the side of the hill.
Like Alice in Wonderland, I couldn't resist. I was
quickly rewarded by a view of stunning beauty.
walkway quickly took me into thicker foliage. This was
immediately I rose higher than the tree house complex.
walked along I got a glimpse at my friend the stream.
walkway took me further and further up the hill.
Soon I could barely make out the tree houses anymore.
seemed to be no limit to this walkway. I vaguely sensed I
getting back to the group... but was helpless to do so. I
was going to follow
this trail wherever it wanted to take me
Now I came
to my friend the stream again.
I quickly realized the walkway was crisscrossing the hill and
been on a lot of trips. I remember a nature walk in
that was pretty spectacular. I remember another nature
Wild Wicklow in Ireland that was also pretty wonderful.
And then there was a walk in
Rica that was special.
would put today's walk at the very top of the list.
This was the most beautiful nature walk I have ever taken in my
about as close as I came to seeing the sun during the walk.
Typically the canopy of the trees kept me shaded throughout my
have just as easily cut down the tree. Instead the
followed his or her "do no harm" philosophy to the hilt.
this my "Stairway to Heaven"
stream higher up on the hill
half of the trail followed the stream
did the elevated walkway come anywhere near to touching the
It could be raining and it could be muddy, but an umbrella would
to see a rain forest in action. I think that is what the designer had in
turned a corner, I was sad to see my walkway headed downwards.
This is one trip I would gladly take again in an instant.
Why do all
good things have to come to an end?
interpreted this area as either a reading room or an outdoor
I was a little boy, Disney's "Swiss Family Robinson"
featured the coolest tree house I have ever seen.
bungalows here at the Jalousie Resort were equally as wonderful.
the only road I saw. It very much looks like a private drive
an access gate at the top of the hill. This place is so
I have a
hunch that when it rains, it pours. That would help explain the
elevated walkway. It also explains why they have this
elaborate drainage duct running right down the middle of their
when I saw this sign. It suggested I had started my walk
from the wrong direction. Who cares?
encountered the entrance to the long wicker tunnel that had
started my "Rick in Wonderland" adventure about half an hour
was about as serene as any place I have ever visited
want to leave your worries behind, this is the place to do it.
I gather, in the old days Jalousie Plantation was a sugar mill
froze in my tracks. Good grief!!
Had I just discovered a nudist colony? What were they
discretely as possible I got closer. I grinned when I
discovered the truth.
They were not only clothed, they were practicing Archery.
Now I was
in for another surprise. Yee haw... Hook 'em Horns!
Just before I got
back to the beach, I spotted my friend the stream again.
If you look, you can spot the Ocean about 20 yards beyond.
The waters of the stream would soon merge with the Atlantic Ocean.
No doubt about it.
My visit to the Jalousie Resort was the highlight
of my trip. My hour-long adventure through this Caribbean
had been pure ecstasy.
As I added the pictures from visit
to my web site, naturally I became curious to know more about the
Jalousie Resort. Here is some of the information I found on the
Guide Review - Sugar Beach, A
The Sugar Beach Resort (formerly Jalousie Plantation; now part of
the Viceroy Hotels chain) is set into the hillside in the Valley of
the Pitons: the twin volcanic peaks rise sharply out of the sea and
bookend views of the Caribbean Sea.
Guests are assured privacy in
their own separate spacious villas, each with a patio and its own
plunge pool about the size of a Jacuzzi without all the bubbling –
perfect for an early morning or evening cool-down. The Sugar Mill
Suites are closest to the main buildings and beach.
Honeymoons are big business here, and pint-sized guests are few. The
property, originally an 18th century sugar mill, is lush with fruit
trees and flowering shrubs. Native plants hang heavy with mango,
banana, papaya, coconut, avocado, star fruit and sour sop, while
colorful hibiscus, jasmine, bougainvillea and oleander scent the
Because of the size and hilly nature of the property, small shuttle
buses continually circulate, ferrying guests to the four dining
areas, spa, pool and beach. Moving around the resort on foot is more
like hiking than walking, and uphill treks can be tough in
flip-flops and sandals.
Buffet breakfast on the verandah consists of a feast of breads,
meats, egg dishes and local fruits. Bayside, down by the beach,
provides a serviceable if rather uninspired lunch menu of
hamburgers, salads and sandwiches. Dinner at the resort is a
fine-dining experience requiring formal attire. Caribbean accents
dot the menu, although the room gives little nod to island life and
could be in any city anywhere.
Jalousie Plantation... Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort
Posted on March 8, 2012
Anyone who still thinks 'Hilton' when it comes to The Jalousie
Plantation in St. Lucia should think again. This glittering gem
tucked down in the cleavage between the
Pitons waved the corporation behind in 2008, a few years after
Englishman Roger Myers purchased it. The Viceroy Hotel Group is a
much better fit, a dynamic yet discerning management company keenly
aware of the current trends in luxury hospitality …
Yet when it comes to re-conceptualising, The Viceroy Hotel Group
(just like Mr Myers himself) always takes into account a hotel's
history, as well as its surroundings. And in the case of The
Jalousie Plantation there was plenty to go on. Not only did the
resort used to be a 19th century sugar plantation, but it is perched
upon 100-acres of mountainous rainforest that tumbles right down to
the Caribbean Sea. And, of course, there are those famous twin peaks
dominating every waking moment.
The old world charm of the historical Great House has been carefully
maintained, but beautifully enhanced with chic yet classic
furnishings and modern art on every available wall. A couple of
oversized public rooms have been transformed into
ultra-sophisticated nightspots, the kind of places you can snack on
beef satay, down vintage rums and put the world to rights whilst
looking at a star-filled sky.
The 78 butler-serviced rooms and villas are now a modern take on
plantation styling. Think timber floors, claw-foot tubs, 4-poster
beds and private plunge pools, their white-on-white colour scheme
spot on when there's a lush green rainforest just outside the door.
And eight fancy new bungalows have just opened right on the beach
And then, of course, there's that incredible US$2 million spa.
Created by a posse of local craftsman in an organic 'tree-house'
style, this unique sanctuary not only pays homage to the island's
indigenous people, but also to its exotic location between a
Caribbean jungle and ocean.
Access is via a long and winding tunnel softly lit by candles. Then
raised walkways lead through the canopy of trees to the seven
treatment gazebos, raw woods, hand-woven walls and rough-hewn stones
establishing a vibe that's both sensual and back-to-nature.
The relaxation pavilion has a waterfall,
natural pond and running stream as its soothing backdrop, even the
local tree frogs getting in on the act at dusk by contributing the
kind of background 'music' you usually only get on a CD.
And naturally all the product lines here are wholly organic. The
body and skincare products come from Environ, Green Papaya and
Academie France, CACI hailed as an effective and lasting alternative
to cosmetic surgery.
Signature treatments include Bamboo
Massages, Sulphur & Lime Wraps and Chocolate Body Scrubs, the wet
room, beauty suite and Temascal (steam dome) also occupying everyone
for an indecently long time.
Jalousie Plantation will be renamed The Tides, Sugar Beach at the
end of 2012.
$430-789 high season (December-April),
$230-$396 low-season (May to mid-December)
price includes complimentary breakfast. If you stay for 6
nights you also get an extra night free.
Archer's Note: So there's your price: $230 a night
minimum... breakfast included!
The spa is extra.
So what does that incredible spa cost?
peaceful and tranquil surroundings of the rainforest spa
residing at the bottom of the famous St Lucian Pitons. Take time
out to reflect, uplift your spirits and awaken your senses
whilst restoring harmony and balance to your life. Our
therapists are chosen for their caring nature and intuitive
sense of touch. The tailored treatments have been designed for
you to indulge and pamper yourself whilst relaxing in the
massage with organic coconut oil will induce deep
relaxation. Relax further and enjoy the natural sounds of
the rainforest while relaxing in your own natural watsu
$250 per couple 50 minutes treatment 20 minutes watsu pool
couples to share memorable moments together
This treatment will be performed in the double cabana where
sparkling wine and lunch to be served after receiving a
customized body massage. Relax further and enjoy the natural
sounds of the rainforest while relaxing in your own natural
watsu pool.$325 per couple 50 minutes massage 60 minutes
lunch and relaxation time.
After reading this, I
would have to say that cruise trips seem pretty economical compared
to these prices. For example, our trips that depart from
Galveston typically cost less than $100 a night. A cruise
vacation isn't cheap, but it is a fair price.
However, there can be no
price tag that will do justice to the joy that comes from seeing the
world with friends by your side. Marla Archer is to be commended for
organizing these trips in the first place. Mara Rivas is to be commended for
going far out of her way to ensure the group experience is a
I think this
five-chapter series about Mara's contributions makes it abundantly
clear that the people on this trip were truly blessed to have Mara as
our friend. Her hard work really paid off.