While stars who want to be seen flock to Barbados and The Maldives, the wealthy and famous who want to unwind in luxury without intrusion head to Marigot Bay Resort in St Lucia, nestled within a hidden inlet on the west side of the Caribbean island.
They keep coming back partly because the names of the stars and entrepreneurs who stay are never publicised.
I learn during an unforgettable holiday what the other myriad reasons are…
Marigot Bay Resort in St Lucia is nestled within Marigot Bay – one of the most beautiful inlets in the Caribbean
In the foreground of this spellbinding image is LaBas Beach, which Marigot Bay Resort guests can reach via an on-demand water taxi
The five-star ski-chalet-style property offers the most sensational backdrops for the perfect Insta-shot. The bay it’s set in – and named after – is impossibly picturesque, filled with luxury yachts and the resort is lined with palm trees.
But still, it caters towards understated wealth, rather than the bling-bling bikini-set.
We were lucky enough to spend our week in a vast bay view residence, with hardwood floors, a huge canopy bed and private balcony with sensational views.
Marigot Bay Resort boasts two infinity pools surrounded by cabanas and sun loungers, with a third shallow-water area containing floating loungers. Dreamy.
The five-star ski-chalet-style property offers the most sensational backdrops for the perfect Insta-shot
Marigot Bay Resort boasts two infinity pools surrounded by cabanas and sun loungers, with a third shallow-water area containing floating loungers
The larger pool on the upper-level is family-friendly with a tempting swim-up bar and sprinklers around its edge, which provided a refreshing break from the heat.
The lower pool, with a luxurious waterfall feature, offers an adults-only dip for a quieter experience.
For the golden hour, head to the secluded LaBas Beach across the bay via the resort’s on-demand water taxi.
If soaking up the sunshine isn’t enough to keep you occupied, Marigot Bay offers complimentary daily activities.
There is a fully equipped fitness centre, while outdoor yoga and Pilates classes are held on the deck overlooking the marina.
We took part in a guided ridge hike, which offers more active guests a jungle adventure and the opportunity to discover the hidden beauty of the bay, with a panoramic view from the top.
For a real physical challenge, the resort can organise a guided hike to the top of Gros Piton, the taller of the two mountainous volcanic spires in St Lucia.
Ellie spent a week in a vast bay view residence, with hardwood floors and a huge canopy bed
Ellie’s impressive suite had a private balcony – with sensational views of St Lucia’s lush forestry and cobalt-blue waters
As one of St Lucia’s most famous exports, an afternoon of rum tasting with Alvin at Marigot Bay’s Rum Cave is advisable.
While sipping on five different blends of aged rum and nibbling on accompanying snacks, we learned the history and process of how the alcohol is made on the island – but beware, the chocolate rum truffles are irresistibly moreish!
Shopaholics (like me) can indulge themselves at the exclusive designer boutiques at The Marina Village, and those searching for a spot of pampering (again, me) are catered for with an on-site salon and hairdressers.
THE AURIGA SPA
Through the botanical gardens surrounding the resort, tucked away within a tranquil, jungle style setting, the recently renovated Auriga spa is an oasis of calm made up of wooden cabins, including a couples’ treatment hut.
The ‘volcan treatment’, which I had, is the perfect option for those not looking to venture off the resort, but who still want to experience traditional volcano mudding.
The sulphur mud, which the therapist gently applied over my entire body, comes from ‘the world’s only drive-in volcano’ – the Sulphur Springs in Soufriere on the southwest of the island – and contains nutrients to rehydrate, revitalise and nourish your skin.
The process draws toxins out of your body, and once you’ve rinsed the mud off in the exotic outdoor rain shower, the masseuse relaxes you with a hot stone massage to further release muscle tension.
‘The world’s only drive-in volcano’ – the Sulphur Springs in Soufriere on the southwest of the island
Ellie pictured enjoying a mud bath at the drive-in volcano (left). On the right – a guided kayak expedition
For those wanting to soak up some traditional St Lucian life, Marigot Bay Resort really is the perfect gateway to the whole island, which begs to be seen by water.
St. Lucia’s truly majestic coastline comprises dramatic cliffs and luscious green forests contrasting with pristine beaches and colourful villages.
Guided kayaking is a must-do, and worth splashing out on. Our private kayaking tour took us to places of untouched natural beauty with mesmerising scenery and uninterrupted sounds from the natural world around us.
As we leisurely kayaked through the still waters of the Roseau River, which flows gently between both forest and jungle, we genuinely felt as though we were on a movie set.
[The volcano] smells like rotten eggs, thanks to the sulphur springs, but the mud baths are great fun
For those keen to go further afield, take a private speed boat from Marigot Bay Resort to Soufriere and head to the volcano.
It smells like rotten eggs, thanks to the sulphur springs, but the mud baths are great fun.
First, you relax in the 40-degree muddy water to open your pores, before climbing out to slather the thick, natural mud all over your body.
As the mud dries in the sunshine, you can feel your body tighten, which makes soaking it off in the warm waters extremely satisfying.
Locals claim the mud baths make you look 10 years younger. Unfortunately, I’m not sure the results were that extreme for me, but my skin was definitely softer.
Marigot Bay Resort lures in guests from surrounding hotels – a rare achievement for an all-inclusive
Back at the Marigot Bay Resort, a testament to the quality of dining on offer is that guests staying elsewhere come to its restaurants for dinner – highly unusual for all-inclusive resorts.
Despite the fine dining, wearing heels would feel out-of-place and impractical, given the stairs-heavy layout of the resort (although a complimentary golf buggy chauffeur service is available).
The swim-up ‘Brut Bar’ in the main pool offers freshly made sushi, nachos and tasty burgers, as well as perfectly executed cocktails presented with a friendly smile.
Behold The Pitons – a pair of volcanic plugs on St Lucia that soar to a height of over 2,300ft
The dual-purpose ‘The Grill at 1416’ serves delicious breakfasts until late morning, before transforming into a fine dining haven each evening.
It’s not the best for vegetarians, but the talented chefs took my (vegan!) dietary requirements in their stride, even relishing the challenge to create bespoke dishes.
The authentic ‘Rum Kitchen’ was easily our favourite location for dinner – live acoustic music created a lovely ambience, while views of the marina and the impressive yachts lit up provided a stunning backdrop.
Sitting at the edge of the resort, looking out over the beach across the bay, ‘Hurricane Hole’ is an open-air sports bar-style eatery. The caramelised banana split is divine. Specifically, ask for the coconut ice cream! You can thank me later.
The Treehouse, pictured, ‘offers the most beautiful setting for a romantic dinner’, writes Ellie
The Treehouse offers the most beautiful setting for a romantic dinner – it’s a completely private dining experience with a personalised four-course menu created by the resort’s top chef.
The secret secluded location of the solitary treehouse made us feel as though we were in the middle of a jungle, with the sounds of nature a serene soundtrack to a magical evening.
Each dish was expertly presented and utterly delicious, and the chef himself came up to ensure we were happy with our meals, before gifting my boyfriend a bottle of whisky for his birthday.
To ensure our every need was catered to (and Champagne glasses never empty), a friendly and attentive waiter was always on hand.
It was the most memorable evening of our holiday.
WHAT YOU GET FOR THE PRICE TAG
In addition to its ideal location, what sets Marigot Bay Resort apart from competitors is its community feel and an unparalleled level of service.
By day two the friendly staff know your name and drinks order, by day three they ask if you’d like your ‘regular’ breakfast (breakfast wrap, no pulled pork).
Pushing the five-star service to the limit, for my boyfriend’s birthday the truly wonderful staff showered him with balloons, confetti and broke into a group singalong of happy birthday at breakfast as they brought out a candle-topped cake.
Not content with their morning celebration, while we were at the beach, our suite was decorated with more balloons, a message made with flower petals strewn across the bed – and another cake delivered.
HOW YOU’LL FEEL
Marigot Bay Resort allows guests to experience traditional Caribbean culture, tropical wildlife, and traditional cuisine without setting foot outside the perimeter, enthuses Ellie
The underlying ethos in St Lucia is kindness and generosity of spirit. I’m from Liverpool and it’s the first time I’ve been anywhere else in the world where the people are so welcoming and so proud of where they’re from.
Beautiful Marigot Bay Resort allows guests to experience traditional Caribbean culture, tropical wildlife, and traditional cuisine without setting foot outside the perimeter.
Although the resort’s magical setting takes your breath away, it was the attentive staff and friendly islanders who made our experience so memorable.
A luxurious, yet laid-back atmosphere with outstanding service means you’re guaranteed to leave feeling relaxed, refreshed, rejuvenated – and probably full of rum.
One bedroom Residence: US$594 (£460) including tax and service charge. Junior suite lead-in rate: US$534 (£415) including tax and service.
All-inclusive meal plan options – called All-incLUCIAN rates – are also available.
For a one bedroom residence, this rate is US$954 (£740) per night including tax and service, all meals, soft and alcoholic drinks, and airport transfers.
Visit www.marigotbayresort.com for general information and www.marigotbayresort.com/safety-protocols for information on the hotel’s coronavirus safety protocols. Ellie was hosted by the hotel and note – her trip took place before the pandemic and some of her experiences may have since been adapted or made unavailable.
Passengers must have a medical certificate with a negative coronavirus PCR test result issued at most seven days before arrival. Check government advice before booking and travelling.
Visit www.stlucia.org for more information.