Ladera Resort, Saint Lucia

Steve Hartridge stays at Ladera in Saint Lucia, a tropical getaway steeped in Caribbean heritage

THE BACKGROUND

Ladera was not just the first-ever hotel on Saint Lucia, but a pioneer in the open wall (or three-wall) villa concept. It was made possible due to the prevailing trade winds that approached from the back (eastern side) of the resort and allowed for the open side.

But who needs a wall shutting out views as epic as those from Ladera? The story goes that Ladera was developed after a sailor in the U.S. Navy, passing by on his ship, looked up and spotted some old run-down buildings nestled high on the hillside. He eventually bought the property. Some original features, such as carved totem poles, still exist with the Dasheene dining room built around and incorporating them as a central (attractive) feature.

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THE LOCATION

Is there a more spectacular one anywhere? Ladera’s 37 rooms and suites are built into a ridge (I can’t even imagine how difficult that engineering job was) among overflowing tropical foliage and flowers on Saint Lucia’s southern end, near Soufrière. The sole resort is on an 18-acre UNESCO World Heritage Site, looking directly out onto the island’s famous twin Pitons and down to the Caribbean. 

THE CHECK IN

This felt different — and special. We were driven the short distance from the resort’s car park to a waiting area and given a cold towel and fruit punch. Colourful birds drank from a lily pond and giant green caterpillars gathered around our feet. We were then taken down to the reception area and given our key and a resort map.

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THE ROOM

What a room to walk into! My Hilltop Dream Suite seemed to be floating untethered among a rainforest and there wasn’t a time during my stay when I entered without letting out a little gasp. 

It was set on two levels with hard-tile flooring and stone walls. The first level features a four-poster king bed, complete with mosquito and bug netting (insects were regular visitors). Hibiscus and frangipani petals were sprinkled on the light duvet.

Steps led down to a lounge area and through to the star feature: a private, brick-walled heated infinity plunge pool, complete with a hammock. It was the perfect refreshing spot for an afternoon cocktail and for gazing down (through binoculars) at passing superyachts. The fridge was stocked with complimentary beers, soft drinks and water.

More steps led down to saloon-style swing door that revealed an expansive bathroom with a fabulous rain-style shower. Each time I went down there it felt like I was stepping straight into one of those oft-repeated cave scenes from an Indiana Jones movie. 

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THE FACILITIES

Dasheene offers a quality dining experience accompanied by refreshing trade wind breezes. The menu is full of creative dishes that embrace Caribbean tastes and influences: fish broth, seared snapper, sweet potato and coconut soup, Cajun Creole vegetable bakes and plantain gratin with coconut rum sauce, to name just a few. 

New this year is the cave-style Hideaway Rum Bar featuring rums from around the world. 

Each Friday, to mirror the island’s Friday Fish Fry street party in Gros Islet, Ladera runs a Sunset Fish Fry featuring fresh lobster, fish, vegetables, cocktails and music. 

The resort has a swimming pool and swing chairs, a four-story treehouse, a gym with more great views, free yoga classes and a Piton Hiking Trail that starts from the edge of the property. There are also mineral-fed hot tubs. A Ladera vehicle takes guests down to two nearby beaches (and returns them). Coming in 2024 is a brand-new spa.

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THE VERDICT

How do you best this for a tropical getaway that is lush in every sense of the word? Ladera’s sustainability claims run deep, with its use of local woods, tiles and stones; rainwater harvested for irrigation; solar energy-heated hot water; LED lighting throughout; produce grown organically onsite; and various initiatives at local schools.

Then there is the splendour of the views — every suite faces one of the Pitons and the ocean — the warmth of the staff, all local and trained on site, and the sheer overall quality of the experience that never fades for a second.

THE DETAILS

Several UK operators feature Ladera. Or check the resort’s website for specials, packages and deals. 

ladera.com