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St. Lucia for Lovers

carribean destinationOnly recently have I come out — as a fan of the Caribbean. For many years, I felt like outside of certain pockets like San Juan, Puerto Rico, the region wasn’t the most welcoming to gay and lesbian vacationers.

But just as our community has reached historic levels of acceptance in the United Sates, my recent travels through the Caribbean make me think we shouldn’t overlook the idyllic beaches as possible gay honeymoon destinations. While I still wouldn’t necessarily consider Jamaica a comfortable gay getaway list, the island nation of St. Lucia definitely makes the consideration list, especially after a recent visit with my fiancé.

Over the next two posts, I’ll be giving you my taste-y tips for this charming, inviting, and captivating island.

Taste-y Game Plan. Although small, St. Lucia is spread out up and down mountainous coastline, with winding roads making judging distances between areas difficult. I suggest spending part of your time in the resorts near Soufriere in the South where you’ll have gorgeous vistas of the iconic Les Pitons—the twin peaks rising out of the ocean (and prominently displayed on the eponymous beer). For a little more “action,” spend a few days on the North of the island near the capital Castries or Rodney Bay (I’ll cover that in future posts).

boucan accommodations

Taste-y Stay. You might know Jalousie Plantation from its appearance on a season of The Bachelor (and if you do, I’m not quite sure what to say to you). But rest assured this bit of heaven is even better in person than portrayed on the small screen.

They were even planning a same-sex commitment ceremony for the day after I visited. The resort is spread out up and down a hillside nestled between Les Pitons, giving it a gorgeous, protective cove of a beach. While last year’s Hurricane Tomas left serious damage to the property—around 50 villas were declared inoperable after surviving a landslide—the owners took it as an opportunity to upgrade almost every aspect of the resort.

The renovated rooms I saw were elegantly cool, and the new Cane Bar looks like it’s been lifted directly from South Beach. But the spot that took my breath away was the Rainforest Spa. The interconnected series of treatment rooms and relaxation areas are built on stilts in the trees to protect the rainforest area. Better yet, a stream flows beneath the rooms providing a natural soundtrack of relaxation.

To celebrate the opening of the Rainforest Spa, The Jalousie Plantation has a “Spa Break Away” package. Through July 31, 2011, stay for 3 nights in any room category and the 4th night is free.

The resort also includes a complimentary Rainforest Spa signature Bamboo massage, and manicure or pedicure per booking. Plus, complimentary daily full breakfast for two adults. Rates start at just $270 per night (excluding tax and service charges) for a newly renovated Luxury Sugar Mill Room with private walled garden and plunge pool.

Taste-y Eat (and stay). If you’re a chocolate lover, then you absolutely must visit Boucan Restaurant & Bar just across from Jalousie. This restaurant from Hotel Chocolat, the hottest confectionery company in the UK, features Cacao Cuisine, an elegant and upscale use of cacao in everything from marinades, infusions, and foams.

dining at boucanThis is no theme park restaurant, folks. The stunning, open-air modern dining room with view to the Pitons is one of the most dramatic venues I’ve eaten in anywhere in the world. Don’t miss the citrus salad with white chocolate dressing, that was beautifully presented with a delicate balance of flavors featuring local basil and microgreens.

boucan night

My fiancé had to fight me from finishing his chicken liver parfait served with a dash of their estate grown and made bitter sweet chocolate ganache. If you’re truly a chocolate fanatic, and plan ahead, try and book one of the six eco-cottages that they’ve recently opened on the estate, which would allow you to tour the plantation, pick your own cocoa, and work with the chef to create your own chocolate bar in a program called “Tree to Bar.” I have a feeling they might even plan a chocolate lovers gay wedding in the cacao fields if you asked.

 

Photos courtesy of Jon Paul Buchmeyer, Jalousie Plantation, Hotel Chocolat.

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.