Hi/Low St. Lucia
Some people delay a Caribbean gay honeymoon for fears of homophobia, while others worry about the price tag. In the last post, I outlined my evolving feelings and thoughts about the region’s comfort with gay and lesbian travelers. This time, let me tackle price.
No doubt is there tremendous luxury to be found—with a price to match—at many of the islands. But at the same time, there are strategies I have developed that help my dollar stretch further, without breaking the bank. Looks for deals at properties in the off-season like summer, when hot weather is cooled by constant breezes—the only thing you’ll need to worry about is potential hurricanes interrupting your holiday. It does happen, so definitely look into travel insurance if you’re going this time of year. You can also find bargains during “shoulder season” between Thanksgiving and Christmas when travel tends to slow down.
My strategy for traveling during high season is to rent an affordable apartment for the week, and then add in an overnight stay at a luxury property for a little pampering. That’s exactly what my fiancé and I did on our recent exploration of St. Lucia—an island well-suited for this kind of adventure.
There are many good apartment rental sites to help you with a search for affordable rentals. I often use one called HomeAway.com—easy to navigate with many pictures. For St. Lucia, I was looking for an even better bargain so just surfed the web directly plugging in search terms like “St. Lucia apartment rental.” Often times, you can cross check the results with reviews on TripAdvisor, which can provide advice on details you wouldn’t necessarily know from websites.
I settled on Apartment Espoir outside of St. Lucia’s capital city Castries mostly because the reviews on TripAdvisor consistently commented on how wonderful the owner/host Keith was. And boy were they right! Yes, the simple apartment we rented had spectacular views of the Caribbean, but even better, when I ran my car off a slight ledge near the property that had me completely stuck, Keith came to my rescue. He and his nephew worked over an hour getting the rental back into working order. That kind of hospitality and generosity stays with you for a lifetime. The one bedroom apartment was $125 per night, and we stocked our fridge with fresh produce from the nearby market, avoiding many of the taxes and charges associated with a hotel stay.
As much as I like a bargain, I do enjoy a splurge. So I always choose a luxury property for a special night, and for our trip it was the evening of the Academy Awards. A lifelong Oscar fan, I decided to give my fiancé and me a little red carpet treatment with a couple’s massage and overnight at The Landings (pictured at top of article), an upscale resort on the north end of the island, owned by the environmentally-forward thinking RockResorts. Refreshing towels and a rum punch on arrival were just what the doctor ordered after my crazy near death experience with the car and the cliff (not really, but since it was Oscar night I was trying to be dramatic). Even better, the topnotch spa treated us like celebrities, not a hint of homophobia in the air.
The suites were elegant, decorated in a modern Caribbean style, with full kitchen, and some with up to four bedrooms—so you could consider going with a group. If you’re a boat person, this place is for you as the property is built around a marina allowing you to dock your craft just steps from your room. Recovering from one of the most boring Oscars in recent memory was made that much easier with lounge chairs on the sandy beach and full service from the beach restaurant. One-bedroom villas generally start around $550 per night, although you can sometimes find specials around $350.
One final tip: plan the luxury excursion for the last day(s) of the trip—the extra pampering eases the transition back to reality.
Photo Credits: Jon Paul Buchmeyer
Jon Paul Buchmeyer is the author of the award-winning humorous memoir Alphabet City: My So-Called Sitcom Life and writes frequently for Condé Nast Traveler and Bon Appétit magazines. In addition, he is the author of his own popular blogs: ABCityblog.com and Poptimistic.com.