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Just Back From St. Lucia. . . . AWESOME

Brooklyn, New York
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Just Back From St. Lucia. . . . AWESOME

I just returned on Monday from my first land vacation to St. Lucia. In a word, it was AMAZING/AWESOME/FABULOUS. O.K., O.K. that was three words but. . . words do not do St. Lucia justice.

It is more beautiful than Hawaii and has much more to do than any of the other Caribbean islands I have visited. In fact, many of the "attractions" are either free or close to free. The hardest thing about St. Lucia is negotiating the twists, turns and hills of their highway system. My solution was that I engaged a cabdriver/tour guide for my entire vacation. We went out somewhere every day. At the end of my stay, I had seen just about every corner of this gem of an island.

The people are very nice, extremely soft-spoken and friendly. They are not as gentle and docile as those in Antigua or as outgoing and engaging as Bajans but, nonetheless, they are friendly, helpful and sweet. They may not say more than hello uninvited but, if you engage them in conversation, they are a wealth of knowledge and assistance. I have no complaints about the population of St. Lucia. They were great.

Crime seems to be minimal with little or no trouble given to tourists. The streets are mostly safe to walk at night, especially in Rodney Bay which is the Tourist Mecca of the island. I walked back to my hotel all hours of the day and night with never a worry or problem.

I stayed in Rodney Bay at the Harmony Suites Hotel. I was originally booked into the Bay Garden Hotel and switched it to the Harmony. I am so very glad I did. While the Bay Garden Hotel and Inn both look like perfectly fine hotels, they are in a bit of an out of the way location on the far side of the second mall from everything else in Rodney Bay Village. I was cautioned a couple of times that the road in front of the Bay Garden Hotel/Inn can at times be the only perilous location in the immediate area because these hotels front on the main road where the buses coming to and from Castries run rather than actually being inside of Rodney Bay Village. They are right on the edge so they are also convenient but for my purposes Harmony Suites worked out much much better.

The maps that are available online of Rodney Bay Village gives the impression that things are much closer together than they really are. They are close but not quite as close as the picture appear.

Harmony Suites was PERFECT for a cost conscious traveler like me who is not interested in a lot of hotel bells and whistles. I was given a premium suite which was actually a 1 bedroom apartment. It was large, bright, and spotlessly clean with a giant balcony that overlooked the pool, restaurant (closed) and gave a partial view of the harbor. The unit had a complete kitchen with all of the appliances, cookery, dishes and utensils needed to complete a full course meal. The bathroom was large and comfortable to move around in. The king sized bed came with 4 of the best pillows I have ever slept on. I want them for my bed at home. There were two full closets in the unit with more hangers than I have ever seen in a hotel room. (This is important for us women who tend to over pack.) The door had two locks, one being a deadbolt. The hotel had 24 hour security/reception with the gates and doors locked after 11 but an attendant was right there to let you in no matter what time you came home. The pool was small but spotless, peaceful and beautiful. The entire hotel grounds were very quiet with a tranquil, calm feel to it. It faced the marina with loungers right on the dock for that mid-afternoon siesta by the water. The hotel was perfect. I cannot say enough about this sweet little hotel. The few things that were less than perfect with this establishment was more than made up for in the customer service, friendliness, cleanliness, location and price. The beach is across the road from the hotel, a mere 2 minute walk. The "strip" where all the restaurants and clubs are located is no more than a 5 minute leisure walk from this hotel. There is only two other hotels in all of Rodney Bay that can boast a closer location. This hotel was perfect because it was both so close but yet not close enough to be infected with the noise of the bars/clubs/etc.

The only thing that St. Lucia lacks is a regular nightlife. Other than small functions in resorts and perhaps during the heavy tourist season, there is no nightlife to speak up in St. Lucia. Every night a few of the bars/clubs in Rodney Bay are open for business but those are mostly empty and tend to close relatively early, well before midnight. The only nights that see a steady stream of business are on Friday and Saturday nights. Otherwise, if it is a party scene you crave, look elsewhere because that is not what the population of St. Lucia do in their free time.

I was lucky and met up with a perfect gentleman named Smarty who owns and runs Smarty Tours (smartytoursstlucia.com). He took me all over the island throughout my vacation. He is the best of the best on the best island.

The conversion rate of US$ to EC$ is 2.70 but most establishments will convert at a rate of $1 to EC2.60-2.67 which is pretty good. If you go to the casino in Rodney Bay, you can use the slot machine as a money converter and get the full EC$2.70 for US$1.

There are many inexpensive but delicious restaurants in St. Lucia that mostly cater to the local population but will often be visited by the more travel savvy tourists and guests. It is not unusual to get a full dinner for approximately $5US (stewed/bbq chicken, mac pie, peas n rice, salad, yams and gravy).

The Reduit Beach in Rodney Bay is one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen with clear clear water, soft, clean sand and NO WAVES. It is like a giant bathtub. Pigeon Island National Park is nearby and is also a must visit. It is so peaceful and beautiful. Many weddings are held on that little island. It is easily reached via boat or car.

There are many sights and must-see designations in St. Lucia. Do yourself a favor and plan a holiday to this island. Just make sure you ditch the rented car and hire someone to drive you around. This way you can really drink in the sights without getting an ulcer trying to maneuver the turns, spins, climbs, etc of the Lucian roads.

I am so very glad I went to St. Lucia and am blessed to have been able to drink in its beautiful. If you are shopping for a vacation location, look no further and tell Smary of Smarty Tours that "Nadia" sent you.

Toronto
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1. Re: Just Back From St. Lucia. . . . AWESOME

Glad to hear you had a great time!

2. Re: Just Back From St. Lucia. . . . AWESOME

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Removed on: 12 July 2012, 03:29
Brooklyn, New York
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3. Re: Just Back From St. Lucia. . . . AWESOME

I knew about the Carnival events. I went to Wet Fete which was fun but that was mostly teenagers. I got a kick out of it though. I can do the carnival events once, maybe twice, but that is not really a club scene and the crowds tend to get a bit too crazy for my taste. A few of the events that were advertised for Carnival in the Rodney Bay area never materialized. There was signs up for shows and whatnot but nothing ever transpired.

I went to Gros Islet, Dennery and Anse la Raye fish festivals which were all fun.

When I asked around the island, the Looshans I spoke to all agreed that St. Lucia is definitely NOT a party/dance club island (except a country & western club downtown Castries that seems popular). Other than the high tourist season when the tourists fill the bars/clubs in Rodney Bay and the carnival events of July, for the most part, St. Lucia is not an island that will ever be known for its nightlife like Barbados, Aruba or the Bahamas.

That was o.k. though b/c I did so much during the day, I was too tired to do much partying even if there was a hopping club scene available. In fact, unwinding at the end of the day at the bars of Rodney Bay watching Karaoke was probably a perfect way to end the day.

Each island stands on its own merits. Barbados is definitely a party/club island with the prettiest beaches but . . . there is not much to see or do in Barbados. Antigua has the sweetest, kindest people and is more lively than than St. Lucia but much quieter than Barbados. St. Lucia is visually the most stunning and has the most things to do and see but has virtually no nightlife except the two examples listed above. This is o.k. though.

I would definitely return. I can party anywhere but I sure can't see the Pitons or Pigeon Island anywhere else so. . .

Edited: 11 July 2012, 21:54
Inuvik, Canada
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4. Re: Just Back From St. Lucia. . . . AWESOME

WOW, your review makes be want to drop Sandals and stay at the Harmony, hehe. So glad you had such a nice time and It is good to know about all the different hotels.Thanks for Sharing.

Brooklyn, New York
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5. Re: Just Back From St. Lucia. . . . AWESOME

Well, I just read the recent reviews for Harmony Suites and they were, frankly, awful. I am not sure what triggered such negative, horrible reviews but I found no problems or complaints with the hotel and I just got back two days ago. The furniture in my home is not new so I don't ask for brand new furniture. I don't use the bells and whistles of the higher-starred hotels, so I don't miss those either. I look for location, safety, cleanliness, price, pretty much in that order.

It is not a Sandals but, at the point you just want a good base of operations that is convenient and economical, you cannot go wrong with Harmony Suites.

For now go, enjoy Sandals but make a detour of Harmony. I have seen them give room keys to people who are investigating staying at this location so, you can even take a self-tour. The suite I was in did not look like the pictures on the web. It was larger and nicer. I was very very happy there.

Milford...
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6. Re: Just Back From St. Lucia. . . . AWESOME

thanks so much for the review......glad you enjoyed your visit!

England
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for St. Lucia
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7. Re: Just Back From St. Lucia. . . . AWESOME

Netta? Anyway BigJ2, glad you had a great time. Sounds like you did!

Brooklyn, New York
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8. Re: Just Back From St. Lucia. . . . AWESOME

St-Lucia_, yeah. I killed the other account b/c I don't argue online. However, I was so happy with Harmony Suites that I felt compelled to leave a great review. I am glad I did. I loved, loved, loved St. Lucia. I went to Antigua back in April for their Sail Week and also fell in love with that Island. Antigua has the sweetest, kindest, most generous people ever. If not for the mosquitos and noseeums, I would have completely quit cussing.

Things happen for a reason, the other hotel was very nice but Harmony Suites was more perfect than perfect for me. I was very very pleased with everything about that hotel.

I am definitely going back to Antigua for Sail Week next year and perhaps another go round in St. Lucia if Smarty Tours is available. He really made my vacation.

My next stops are Canada in a few weeks for the Carib Festival and then off to Barbados in October, Jamaica in November and Atlanta, GA for Xmas finishes up my travel for 2012. I take many vacations each year and, so far, have only been unhappy with one Caribbean island.

Next year I hope to make New Orleans for Mardi Gras, Antigua for Sail Week and the rest is still open.

I travel lots.

England
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9. Re: Just Back From St. Lucia. . . . AWESOME

Hello again!

Lucky you to travel so much! I guessed from your previous posts that it was you - plus the Brooklyn connection ran a bell. I am very pleased you had such a great time. Re feeling safe and getting out and about, I know this was one of your concerns, so how did you find it.

I think Smarty used to work at Windjammer but left to set up his own business. I may be wrong of course. If it is him he was a lively guy and I could imagine him setting up his own business.

Have a great time with your future travels.

Edited: 12 July 2012, 19:17
surrey
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10. Re: Just Back From St. Lucia. . . . AWESOME

Very clever detective work SLE!

Glad you enjoyed St Lucia BigJ2. We stayed in Harmony Suites in 2006 and thought it was good for the price.