Caribbean

St. Lucia: High-Adrenaline Getaways

written by | Posted on July 1st, 2009

St. Lucia’s wealth of wellness-oriented resorts pair high adventure with high luxury.

When you think “hiking trips,” images of backpackers, camping tents and other rugged travel settings spring to mind. But when you think “St. Lucia,” you might think of its high-end resorts, with unique and spacious rooms and inviting spas. So what’s one to think about hiking trips in St. Lucia? A combination of the two, creating a totally unique experience for your clients in the Caribbean.

mountains and massages When you’re sitting in the shadow of two of the Caribbean’s most enticing mountains, it doesn’t matter who your guests are—they’re going to want to go hiking. So says Molly McDaniel, director of public relations at The Jalousie Plantation. “We’re on 192 acres and right in the heart of the World Heritage Site for St. Lucia. The Piton Mountains are both UNESCO World Heritage sites, listed as sites of exemplary natural beauty and cultural significance,” she explains. “You can actually lay on the beach and look up at Petit Piton, and when you’re snorkeling you’re actually at the base—if you look to the south, Gros Piton is there.”

Everywhere you turn on the property, it seems, you’re met with the spectacular sight of those picturesque green mountains, shooting skyward and covered in lush green vegetation. So it’s natural that visitors to Jalousie might want to conquer the mountains. “Many of our visitors are British, and they’re really into hiking, getting into nature and looking around,” McDaniel explains. “At least half of the people who stay with us will tackle Gros Piton, or hike to the sulphur springs, or even take part in one of our morning powerwalks.” Jalousie’s powerwalks take clients on a tour of its own expansive property, looping around streams and across suspension bridges for a preview of what hikers will find when they explore the trails outside the resort. “It’s an opportunity for people who are uninitiated when it comes to rainforest adventure,” she explains.

Gros Piton, the area’s most famous and one of its most popular hikes, is especially convenient to The Jalousie Plantation. But it’s just one of several nearby routes that showcase St. Lucia’s exotic and diverse tropical landscape. McDaniel says one of her favorite hikes takes clients not into the Pitons, but to the Edmund Forest Reserve. “It’s absolutely stunning, a 4.5 km [almost three miles] circular trail that takes you into the heart of the reserve,” she describes. “You’re climbing in the shadow of St. Lucia’s highest mountain, and it’s a ridge walk part of the time.” The reserve is also home to the rare and brightly colored Jacquot parrot. “I’ve been there a couple of times, and I’ve been lucky to see a pair of parrots. You quite often get to see them on the hike,” McDaniel explains.

As more of the resort guests began venturing into the wild, many of whom didn’t hike regularly, Jalousie’s resort staff started to notice a change. “A lot of guests do literally start walking like penguins [after their hike],” McDaniel explains with a laugh. “It’s the thighs. It can be a steep uphill trek, like a rigorous stairmaster climb, and you’re going an hour-and-a-half up and another hour-and-a-half to two hours down. You’re not using the same muscles that you use to catch the subway or a taxi in New York.”

Luckily for your clients, the resort’s spa therapists know just how to minimize the post-hike pain. In packages designed for overall wellness, McDaniel says, “We combine a hike with the wonderful muscle relaxing massage at the end of your hike, to encourage recovery and reduce achy muscles.” Booked through the spa, the Piton Hike package includes the vigorous Gros Piton hike, capped off with a relaxing body therapy, all priced at $175 pp. The resort also offers a similar treatment for scuba divers returning from the nearby “Superman’s Flight” wall dive, with a treatment designed to rehydrate skin and revive divers’ energies.

But for the ultimate in natural spa treatments, McDaniel says, tell clients to book a hike to the nearby sulphur springs, sitting just beneath St. Lucia’s La Soufriere Volcano. Upon arriving at the springs, “we cover you in sulphur mud, and then you bathe in the waterfall warmed by the volcano,” McDaniel describes. After they’ve rinsed off the mud, clients hike back to Jalousie’s spa, where they can opt to finish the process with a relaxing massage. Sulphur Seduction, also booked through the spa, includes a tour of the volcano, a dip in the sulphur springs, a warm sulphur mud bath and a shower in the Piton waterfalls. Prices start at $170 pp.