We’ve always stayed at big resorts when visiting the Caribbean. When planning our trip to St. Lucia, I wasn’t satisfied with the options. The nicer resorts are to the south, near the Pitons, but far away from a lot of the restaurants and attractions up north. Many
of the resorts on this island do not have rooms close to the beach at all (at Sugar Bay you have to ride a cart to get down there. Hotel Chocolat isn’t even a waterfront property, nor is Jade Mountain: both take you to the beach by shuttle). We ended up choosing to stay at Villa Beach Cottages, on Choc Bay. It looked too good to be true from the photos on their web site, but I was pleased in general.
Location is everything and this mini-resort lived up to its photos. It’s located on the main road between Rodney Bay and Castries. I was a little nervous when I realized our hotel was on this busy four-lane highway. The driveway was hard to find: we missed it once and had to circle back. Once you find it, you pull in and suddenly you are in a quiet retreat. You don’t know the road is there at all (and I still can’t believe this, but it was true). The parking lot is small and right next to the two story villas. The villas are simply charming, done in a Victorian gingerbread style. They’re pastel colored and landscaped with lush vegetation and flowers. The grounds are small, but incredibly well-kept.
The villas all look out over the wooden deck and pool area to the beach below and it is a stunning view. The ocean is just outside your window and if your window is open, you can hear the waves (which is a dream come true for me). Choc Bay is a lovely long beach. To the right is simply open beach with undeveloped land. A small restaurant is directly next door but
beyond that is just vacant land. Locals use some of it as a park, with a volleyball net set up. To the left is another empty lot where there was some weed smoking and partying happening at night. Beyond that is the Sandals resort. The beach is incredibly soft sand with warm, calm water. We took lots of long, relaxing walks on the beach.
Castries is about a 5 minute drive to the south and Rodney Bay is about a 10 minute drive north. There is a grocery store almost across the street, with a much nicer one in Rodney Bay. There were lots of great restaurants in the area. We did take a day trip down to the Pitons and it really is an entire day to get there, do some things, and get back. There is no direct and easy way to get there, with narrow, steep, winding roads through the hills. You do need to select one area of the island and just stay there because you can’t simply pop
down south for dinner one night.
We were traveling with our adult daughter and were pleased to rent a unit with two bedrooms, two baths, and a kitchen
and living area. We generally stay in full service hotels in the Caribbean and have never had a self-catering situation but we found it quite handy. We made our own breakfasts and lunches which made hanging around and enjoying the beach easy. We stayed on the second floor. All the units face the water and all have a balcony that looks out to the beach. The second floor was definitely the best choice here because you could see the beach. First floor units open up to the pool area and you
have people walking past you as you sit on your porch.
The bedrooms were comfortable. The master bedroom opens to the balcony and the beach and we left our window open at night to hear those waves. I do wish the French doors to the balcony had drapes or blinds you could open. They didn’t move and they only way to see the view was to open the doors, and then the air conditioning was overpowered. The bathrooms were large with no counter space. The towels were a bit
threadbare. The other bedroom felt a bit dark because it faced the parking lot and was in the shade of a giant banyan tree.
The kitchen and dining area was fine. We could have used a few more eating utensils – 4 of each kind was a bit skimpy. But the kitchen had sufficient plates and pans to cook. The dining table was large and beautiful. The sitting area left something to be desired. An old couch and chair that had been recovered were uncomfortable and musty. The living area was dark and had no air conditioning (each bedroom had its own wall unit). We spent almost no time in here though. We ate all our meals on the balcony and used this room only for cooking.
Before we arrived, I inquired about having some basic food supplies placed in the unit before our arrival, since the web site said this was an option. I merely asked what was offered, and the cost. I never said I wanted it. When we arrived, the food was in our refrigerator. We ended up using it and it was fine, but I would have been displeased to be charged for this if I had not asked for and did not use it.
The balcony had a table and four chairs, as well as two loungers. There were some birds making a nest in a nearby light fixture so we enjoyed watching them, but had to shoo them away from our food.
Our building was a quad – there were four units (2 up and 2 down), so there was another family right next to us, and we could hear them when on the balcony. The balcony has a screen though so there is some privacy. On our other side was a walkway that separated us from another building.
We had wifi but it was spotty and the connection was pretty slow. We never actually turned the TV on so I’m not sure what channels were available.
The resort has two small pools. One is small and one is just about the size of a bathtub. The outside common area is quite small, but
there was a hammock, lounge chairs, and two gazebos. We visited in April, which is a shoulder season, so the resort was practically empty. There were at most 3-4 other families there. This resort has 20 units. If all the units were full, it would be quite crowded in this area and I don’t think there would be enough
lounge chairs (they may have had extras in storage though).
This is a perfect place for families with small children, because the area is small and enclosed – there are even gates on the stairs to the beach. You could let your kids run, and if you had a first floor villa, you could sit on your porch and just watch them. The smaller pool is perfect for small kids. And staying in a unit with a kitchen is an absolute must when you have small children, so this would be perfect.
We swam in the larger pool which was fine with just us, but once anyone else got in, it was crowded. If kids were splashing, it was unusable. There was a hot tub, but there seemed to be some confusion about it. There were no visible controls to turn it on. Twice we tried to use it and asked for help. The controls
are under the deck below it. The first time it was turned on for us. The second time we were told it would go on in 15 minutes, but it never did.
Lounge chairs can be taken down the steps to the beach and we spent a lot of time enjoying the empty beach. We were approached only once by someone trying to sell us something, but there was also a guy who regularly walked up and down the beach carrying a glass jar of pot, clearly available for purchase.
Massages are available by reservation in the gazebos, but I wouldn’t recommend it since we had a complete view of them from our balcony and there is little privacy.
The resort has no restaurant or bar, but they can arrange for a private chef to cook for you. I cannot go to the Caribbean without having a virgin strawberry daiquiri on the beach, but fortunately there was a blender in our kitchen and I was able to make my own.
The staff was minimally friendly upon our arrival. Our room was still being cleaned when we got there. We were shown to our room, then told that the manager wanted to personally welcome us the next day and that we needed to schedule a time to do this. I was not about to schedule a meeting on my first day of vacation, so we just ignored this. We were then hunted down the next day and asked to come meet him. He was busy then though and we were told they would call us
to come over when he was available. Again, this is not exactly my idea of a relaxing vacation. It almost seemed like there
was going to be a sales pitch. Finally my husband went and met him and he just wanted to give us a map and talk about where to go and what to see and where to eat. This would have been great information to get when we arrived, but not really something we wanted to take half an hour for in our first day on the island. It would be so much more useful to write all of this down and give guests a brochure rather than spouting it all out and hoping they remember it.
Our room was cleaned the first day of our stay but never again and no one asked us if we wanted housekeeping services. Towels were never replaced. There is a small convenience store on the property, but a sign says you must ask the front desk to open it, so we never bothered. I can’t imagine anyone does. The property has two security guards on duty all night. One stays in the parking lot and one mostly hangs out in a gazebo, but regularly walks the property. It felt very secure.
Overall we were very pleased with this resort, but I think it would be a very different experience in high season if every unit was occupied. The beach and pool areas
would be very, very crowded and I don’t think they would have enough parking. I loved its location directly on the beach and we enjoyed having a large two bedroom unit with a kitchen. I highly recommend it but caution about what it could be like in high season.
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