For veteran Caribbean travelers, there are obvious pros and cons
to Coconut Bay Resort & Spa, the newest all-inclusive in St.
Lucia. A major perk is the location on the southeast tip of the
island, within a few minutes of the Hewanorra International
Airport, which means clients can skip the 90-minute drive on windy
roads necessary to reach the island’s northern resorts.
Unfortunately, my wife and I missed our connection in Miami, and
we had to fly into the smaller airport in Castries in the north.
The twist of fate meant we were still subject to the lengthy drive
on a dark, rainy night after a long day of air travel. As we dozed,
the friendly driver offered us an introduction to the island’s
Stepping out of the van at Coconut Bay, we were greeted by a
cool ocean wind, one of Coconut Bay’s mixed blessings. Opened in
March, Coconut Bay is the first major attempt to develop the
Atlantic coast of St. Lucia. There is no postcard Caribbean lagoon,
but the steady Atlantic breeze helps make even the most sweltering
of Caribbean nights bearable.
Covering 85 acres of palm tree-covered oceanfront, Coconut Bay’s
location was first developed by Club Med. In 2003, the property was
sold to a Jamaican group, which pumped $15 million into updating
every facet of the property.
The new resort offers 254 rooms, all with balconies and
oceanviews. There are three pools, pristine tennis courts and a
well-equipped fitness center, in addition to three restaurants and
a newly designed, open-air lobby where bands play in the cool
Throughout the property, there is a strong emphasis on
family-friendly features, including a kids club, a small game room
and a waterpark with a slide. And three full-time counselors are on
staff to entertain the kids.
“No other hotel in San Lucia has the facilities to excite the
kids like we do,” said general manager Newton Grey, who spent 19
years with Sandals, most recently as hotel manager of Dunn’s
Coconut Bay is positioned as an economic choice for increasingly
pricey St. Lucia, which is still burdened by relatively expensive
airfares. Coconut Bay’s posted rates are $410 a night for a premium
oceanview room during the peak season (January-April), but it also
works with most large packagers. Although golf and dive trips are
readily available, they’re not included in the price.
“We’re offering a product that is priced right,” Grey said.
“We’ve looked carefully at what the majority of guests are asking
Coconut Bay very much follows the cruise-on-land approach to
all-inclusive resort design. Early in the day, the poolside stereo
blasted the song “Who Let the Dogs Out” the call to action for
guests at swim-up bars around the world. Throughout the day,
activity directors offered a steady flow of games and patter,
making sure anyone interested was fully entertained with pool
volleyball and an assortment of contests.
Fortunately, we found it easy to escape to a quiet oceanside
grass lawn shaded by palm trees, near a small adults-only pool.
Through some fluke of acoustics, we couldn’t hear a single drum
beat as we lounged on hammocks stretched between the palm
The beach in front of the resort is a fairly thin strip of sand
often covered with seaweed, which may surprise some clients
expecting the Caribbean of photo spreads. But on a cool morning we
were able to take a long walk down the sand without seeing anyone
except local fishermen wading through the water with their
There is an uncluttered, native appeal to the resort’s location,
far removed from the large resorts of the northwest. There are no
glorious over-water sunsets, but it’s close to many of the island’s
most stunning attractions, including the steamy sulfur beds of
We were able to do three- and four-hour excursions with a
friendly local driver and be back at the resort to relax by 3 p.m.
We spent the warm afternoons floating on inner tubes in the
waterpark and catching up on our reading.
Spa-junkies will be more than satisfied with the atmosphere in
Coconut Bay’s new spa, Kai Mer, a small, eight-room oasis of quiet
on the beach. A garden of aloe allows guests to pick their own
stems for treatments. Four of the rooms have outdoor showers and
there are special couple treatments available. One of the signature
treatments is the Coconut Splendor, a massage and therapy session
Although there is clear emphasis on families, Coconut Bay hits
many romantic notes, offering parents a chance to escape. The
resort’s wedding facilities include a gazebo perched over the beach
and a small reception hall.
We were scheduled for a romantic dinner on the gazebo, but as we
sat down the wind kicked up off the Atlantic. The staff quickly
moved us to the reception room, where we clinked glasses and
sampled pumpkin bisque and spicy shrimp, just the two of us in the
Coconut Bay Resort & Spa
|MORE TO DO IN ST. LUCIA|
St. Lucia’s towering peaks, mineral springs and steamy rainforests
make it one of the best eco-tourism destinations in the Caribbean.
The star attraction is the volcano of Soufriere, billed as a
“drive-in” volcano. Visitors can literally park their cars just a
few feet from the gurgling, and extraordinarily smelly, sulfur
springs, a rare peek at the inner workings of a volcano.
St. Lucia is also a great island for hikers. For the
adventurous, trails lead up the twin peaks of the Pitons, the
island’s picturesque lava rock mountains. Less adventurous
travelers will enjoy more than 29 miles of trails snaking through
the island’s 19,000 acres of rainforest.
Around the island, there are pockets of spectacular waterfalls
and botanical displays. The Latille Waterfall located near the East
Coast includes a changing room, allowing visitors to change into
suits and slide into a pool at the foot of a 20-foot waterfall, set
in a garden of orchids and other flowers.
Most of the sites are well-maintained and easily accessible and
offer knowledgeable local guides.
St. Lucia Tourist Board