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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 the Grand 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 tall land mass.

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.

 

Sugar Beach

During our 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 away.

As it turned out, this trip was about more than a close look at the Pitons.

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.

Looking down 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 a 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.

Large volcanoes often leave collapsed central calderas that are bordered by circular ridges.

Looking at this picture, I can easily visualize two-thirds of a crater.

Perhaps eons 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 Island.

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.

   

This picture gives a good look at the Petit Piton (left) and the Gros Piton.
As we approached, I had no idea there was a hidden paradise situated
between these two mountains.
 

To be honest, I wasn't prepared for what we saw as we came around the bend.
Suddenly I was witness to the most beautiful beach I had ever seen. 
Known as "Sugar Beach", it is owned by the Jalousie Resort.

This picture gives a good idea how the beach is nestled between the 2 towers.
The waters are known as Jalousie Bay.  The beach is "Anse de Piton"
 

I could not get over how private this beach seemed.
Did these lucky people really have this place all to themselves?
 

"Anse de Piton" as it is called is the definitely most secluded beach
I have ever seen.  Mind you I didn't say the most "private beach". 
I learned half the beach is privately owned and half of it is public.

You might 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 from Guyana.
 

Those white houses above are part of the Sugar Beach Resort
 

I can't 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 beach. 

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 December 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.

I believe these boats are for rent
 

This 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.

Marla told 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.
 

For example, this pool was definitely off limits to us. 
Marla said she went in anyway.  Tsk tsk.
 

After 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
 

I never made it up to the white houses on the "Gros Piton" side of the hill.
I stayed to the left which was the "Petit Piton" side of the hill.

The landscaping was exquisite.
 

I assumed these pink cabins were guest rooms
 

I turned around and took a picture of the sea.  Breath-taking.

Directly behind the pink cabins, I discovered the existence of the tree houses
 

This is the first bungalow I came to.  The sign says "Rainforest Spa"
 

Next I came to a long wicker tunnel
 

This is the end of the tunnel

Next I came to a tree house with its door wide open.
 

There 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.
 

These tree houses were built in perfect harmony with jungle around them.

The thick foliage around each house explains why it is invisible from the sea
 

These tree houses were very high, but the forest canopy was even higher
 

The place was practically deserted.  I only saw one person

At the time, I assumed these cabins were used as guest rooms.
 

However, 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 guest rooms.
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
 

This was the sauna room.  The door was open, so I walked in

Here are some massage tables

 

Some of the rooms were completely undisturbed. Everything was perfect.

This woman is the only person I saw working during my visit

Here is a picture I found on the Internet.  Very lovely place.

I counted at least a dozen different tree houses.  They were scattered up a hill. Every one was built at a different elevation
 

I loved the wooden walkway. 
This was Swiss Family Robinson all over again

Just then I noticed a lovely little stream.  Too pretty!
This stream originated at the top of the hill and was headed out to sea.
 

The stream flowed right through the center of the tree house complex.
 

Anyone who has read my travel story about Atlantis in the Bahamas and Waikoloa 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. 


 

 

 

I 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.

The walkway quickly took me into thicker foliage.  This was Paradise.
 

Almost immediately I rose higher than the tree house complex.
 

As I walked along I got a glimpse at my friend the stream.
 

The walkway took me further and further up the hill. 
Soon I could barely make out the tree houses anymore.
 

There seemed to be no limit to this walkway.  I vaguely sensed I should be
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 the stream.

I have been on a lot of trips.  I remember a nature walk in Juneau, Alaska,
that was pretty spectacular.  I remember another nature walk at
Wild Wicklow in Ireland that was also pretty wonderful.
And then there was a walk in Costa Rica that was special.

However I 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 entire life.

This was about as close as I came to seeing the sun during the walk. 
Typically the canopy of the trees kept me shaded throughout my stroll.
 

They could have just as easily cut down the tree.  Instead the architect
followed his or her "do no harm" philosophy to the hilt.
 

I called this my "Stairway to Heaven"
 

This is stream higher up on the hill

The second half of the trail followed the stream

Not once did the elevated walkway come anywhere near to touching the ground.
It could be raining and it could be muddy, but an umbrella would allow anyone
 to see a rain forest in action. I think that is what the designer had in mind
 

As I 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?
 

I interpreted this area as either a reading room or an outdoor lounge.

Back when I was a little boy, Disney's "Swiss Family Robinson"
featured the coolest tree house I have ever seen. 
 

The bungalows here at the Jalousie Resort were equally as wonderful.
 

This is the only road I saw. It very much looks like a private drive with
an access gate at the top of the hill.  This place is so private.

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 property.

I smiled when I saw this sign.  It suggested I had started my walk
from the wrong direction.  Who cares? 
 

I soon encountered the entrance to the long wicker tunnel that had started my "Rick in Wonderland" adventure about half an hour earlier.
 

The place was about as serene as any place I have ever visited
 

If you want to leave your worries behind, this is the place to do it.

From what I gather, in the old days Jalousie Plantation was a sugar mill

Suddenly I froze in my tracks.  Good grief!!
Had I just discovered a nudist colony?  What were they doing?
 

As 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 Shangri-la
had been pure ecstasy.

Rick's Note: 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 Internet

 

Guide Review - Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort

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 air.

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 (pictured).

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.

Rates:   $430-789 high season (December-April),
              $230-$396 low-season (May to mid-December)

Luxury villa price includes complimentary breakfast. If you stay for 6 nights you also get an extra night free.

   
   

Rick 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?

Enjoy the 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 cabanas.

Couples Signature Treatments

A customized 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 pool.

$250 per couple 50 minutes treatment 20 minutes watsu pool experience

Romantic Renaissance

Created for 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 memorable one.

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.

Rick Archer
December 2012

   
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