Sometimes the romance quotient of a resort is measured not by what it has, but by what it chooses not to have. This is especially true in the case of St Lucia’s magical Ladera. This stunningly minimalist resort dutifully captures the romantic allure of its breathtakingly beautiful location high on a hillside ridge overlooking St Lucia’s iconic Piton peaks, combined with a jaw-dropping panorama of a white sand beach and the sparkling Caribbean Sea.
To showcase the view and its location, its rooms and suites have all been designed and built without a fourth wall—leaving one side completely open to the rainforest environment, the view and the wildlife. That missing wall is everything, forcing couples to appreciate the romance of the natural beauty surrounding them, with no TVs or telephones to distract or interfere with the splendid silence—evolving them from placid to passionate prisoners with no choice but to reconnect with one another.
A visit to Ladera really begins with a delightful 40-minute drive from Hewanorra airport in the south of the island (guests should note the resort is about a 2-hour drive from St. Lucia’s other airport near the capital Castries). Whether your clients are repeat visitors to the island or experiencing St. Lucia for the first time, it’s hard not to be enthralled by the ever-changing Caribbean vistas as the road climbs and twists through sleepy fishing villages and over emerald hills dotted with splashes of vivid bougainvillea. No billboards, garish advertising or Western World fast food chains here—just a leisurely and delightful glimpse of Caribbean life and scenery. The Caribbean as it is meant to be.
Originally opened as a small resort in 1992, Ladera now offers just nine villas and 23 suites each with a private plunge pool and each with that jaw-dropping view. The detailed thought that went into the resort’s design is impressive, utilizing polished Caribbean hardwoods blended with intricate rustic tile and stonework complemented by local wood carvings and art pieces, giving it a sense of luxurious tree-house living. It’s open to the elements and yet sheltered—safe and completely private. The sumptuous four-poster beds are draped in wispy white muslin, creating both a cozy feeling for the occupants, as well as keeping any unwelcome rainforest mosquitoes at bay. Also, rooms are equipped with many thoughtful extras including coils and insect repellent, and to make the most of the hillside location, binoculars are provided and even a star chart for nighttime gazing. It takes a little while to get used to the exposed rooms, where curious finches and fluttering butterflies are frequent visitors, but guests will soon discover the delight—particularly at night—of just sitting and embracing the sounds and serenity of nature. Bathrooms are rustic and spacious and, again, incorporate rich polished woods and colorful artistic tile work in the shower area. Speaking of which, outside showers continue the inside/outside theme of the suites.
Recent additions include the lavish Hilltop Dream Suites, whose multi-level layout incorporates an expanded living/balcony area and can include an upper gazebo for intimate breakfasts or romantic dinners.
Dining at Ladera is a gastronomic and visual treat. The onsite Dasheen restaurant is highly regarded as one of St. Lucia’s finest. Under the guidance of executive chef Orlando Satchell, the restaurant serves innovative interpretations of St. Lucian and Caribbean specialties incorporating local produce and fresh fish, complemented by colorful presentations. A plus are the chef’s weekly tours to the local markets at the nearby fishing village of Soufriere followed by a cooking class. Adjacent to the restaurant, guests gather at the intimate T’cholit bar for pre-dinner cocktails or to watch a spectacular open-air St. Lucian sunset from a comfy armchair.
Below the bar area, the resort’s infinity pool and surrounding deck area is the perfect place to lounge away a lazy Caribbean afternoon where the panorama almost gives the impression of being suspended in space—and a very delightful space at that. For guests wanting an intense dose of beach time, a complimentary shuttle is provided throughout the day to both Jalousie and Anse Chastanet beaches located at the base of the towering Pitons.
After a day of sunbathing or perhaps hiking, guests can indulge in the intimate and efficiently run Ti Kai Pose Spa, which offers a full range of treatments inspired by the island’s volcanic history and its rainforest surroundings. Adjacent to the spa and the small fitness center, Ladera offers discrete soaking tubs whose black mineral-rich waters are drawn from a local source and are said to have restorative powers. We’re not sure if anything was restored during our visit, but we recommend even a 20-minute warm soak, which can be extremely relaxing.