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“Rustic and charming but could be a little inconvenient without a car”
Review of Balenbouche Estate

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Balenbouche Estate
Ranked #1 of 2 Laborie B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
Miami, Florida
Level Contributor
15 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
“Rustic and charming but could be a little inconvenient without a car”
Reviewed 12 August 2011

We thought that Balenbouche was lovely and charming, and really enjoyed our stay here - we would definitely recommend that you consider staying here, however there are also some negatives which you should be aware of when making your decision. Below are a summary of some of the pros and cons:
Pros:
- If you want to get away from it all, this is the place. The estate is beautiful and rustic, you can walk down to the old sugar mill and the beach, or just hang around your cottage and feel like you're in another (very slow) world.
- The cottages are all very charming. Each is different but very cute.
- Breakfast was fresh adn delicious each morning
- We found the hostesses to be friendly, welcoming and helpful - they booked taxis for us and recommended local festivals which we would not have known about otherwise (although the festival turned out to be a little disappointing), and on the day we arrived they gave us lemonade and made lunch for us (delicious sandwich) at very short notice as we were there earlier than expected and there was nowhere nearby to go.
- The evening we had the dinner, the food was absolutely delicious.
- The atmosphere was very friendly and we chatted with and made friends with other guests
Cons:
- The cottages are rustic (which is part of their charm) which means that insects can get in. If instects bother you, I would not recommend staying in the cottages (I imagine the main house is a little better protected so try a room there). There was a mosquito net around the bed which was mostly successful while we slept but we still spent a lot of the evening going round killing mosquitos and trying to block gaps under doors etc.
- Our cottage was surrounded by Calabash and mango trees and at the time of year we were there (May) these regularly fell on the roof of our cottage and the balcony/ground ourside with a loud crashing noise. We had not been warned about this so when it first started happening we thought there was an intruder trying to get in which was very scary! Even when we had worked out that it wasn't an intruder, whenever a loud crash occured it would wake us up meaning a peaceful night's sleep was difficult. I am not sure whether all the cottages have this problem, so ask when you book.
- As a previous poster has mentioned, although they advertise dinner, it is only available when suitable for them to cook. We didn't find this to be a huge problem and drove to local restaurants, but it's a shame it wasn't available more often as it was absolutely delicious and well worth the money.
- Without a car you are a little restricted in what you can do. There is practically nowehere within walking distance to go. During the day, this was fine, as they arranged a taxi-tour for us, and I am sure they would have arranged evening taxis to restaurants too (we were lucky and made friends with a couple who had a car and went out with them in the evenings) - but the taxi option might mean you end up spending more money than you budgeted.
- We were aware that we couldn't pay with a card so had made our initial payment with paypal, and then paid the remainder with a U.S. cheque when we were there. It was not a big problem for us, although I'm not a fan of paypal, but it could be inconvenient for some.

All in all, we are glad that we stayed here, we enjoyed the place and we would recommend it.

Room Tip: If you're worried about insects, stay in the main house, and ask about falling fruit on your cot...
See more room tips
  • Stayed May 2011, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
3 Thank L083
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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93 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (16)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
Delft, The Netherlands
Level Contributor
38 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 130 helpful votes
Reviewed 7 April 2011

We stayed here at the start of a trip that included the BodyHoliday and Ladera (see other reviews) and were completely happy with this choice at the start of the trip to relax after the flight.

You are staying in a rustic cottage at a historic family home and found the service friendly, genuine and very accommodating - easily able to take an extra pot of coffee from breakfast to enjoy the balcony and grounds, to being given calamine lotion for my mosquito bites - all appreciated touches.

All the information on the website is accurate - do not stay here if you don't like wildlife! We found the chorus from the tree frogs and birds, the cat on the porch wanting a fuss and feeding or the dogs leading the way to the beach all part of the charm, but the ear plugs from the flight did come in handy for sleep! The grounds are just beautiful and so relaxing. The beaches were private and we have very happy memories of time there.

The food is home-cooked, fresh and delicious, and be sure to enjoy a rum punch or more on the verandah as night falls.

If you want hermetically sealed, insect free, or a commercial enterprise, go elsewhere. If you want a completely charming rustic base that felt like an instant home, to relax and get to see some of the real St Lucia and its history, I can't think of anywhere better and will very happily return.

  • Stayed March 2011, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank Kentish
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Cheshire, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
22 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed 20 March 2011

Balenbouche is a wonderful experience, to see the plantation house preserved and be part of it for a few days was wonderful. We met Utta who runs the place and read the story of what happened here - her lovely daughters and her looked after us and took us to the 3 beaches. It was a fabulous couple of days and Debbies restaurant nearby is great.

Stayed February 2011, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
Thank Rubychickens
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Brooklyn, New York
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 18 March 2011

All in all, kind of on the fence with this place. On the plus side, it's a beautiful location, charming rooms, and you can easily have your own private beach with decent swimming and you're close to the Pitans for day hiking trips, but a little over priced for what you're getting. On the downside, if you're not renting a car, it's very expensive to get cabs everywhere (though true for the whole island) and the staff treats you a bit more like a nuisance than a welcomed guest and is very unorganized. Be warned that they do not take credit cards, just paypal or cash. They failed to mention this before we got to the island where using paypal is very tricky and maybe some people travel with that much cash, but not us. They also failed to show us how to use the solar shower, resulting in a couple days of cold showers before we figured it out ourselves. While they do accommodate for vegan and vegetarian diets, don't really plan on eating there even though they "offer" it cause chances are they'll tell you "oh we're not doing dinner tonight" when you try to schedule it, regardless if you had already paid for it or not. I would recommend just visiting there for a couple hours, take some photos, but don't stay.

  • Stayed March 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
6 Thank paintnink
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
EcoParadise, Owner at Balenbouche Estate, responded to this review, 23 March 2011
We feel that we have to clarify a few things about this review. We are always put our visitors needs before our own, for example giving people the option to stay in a less expensive cottage if it becomes available. We are very clear on our website, visitor guide and emails that we do not accept credit cards (the fees and regulations for credit cards are excessively high and complicated in St. Lucia). However, we accept PayPal, wire transfers, personal checks, travelers checks and all major currencies. Some people choose to pay with PayPal in advance plus an estimated amount for meals. While we prepare special vegan and vegetarian meals by request, we do not prepare dinner every night. However, we did prepare dinner for just two people, even without prior reservations. We show everyone around the property, help them plan their vacation, organize taxis, and recommend tours. The electric (not solar) hot water in Calabash cottage was working fine, but perhaps some people do not find the switch right away. In the future we will remember to point it out. Any problem however can usually be solved by letting us know about it. Finally, nobody has ever said that they do not feel welcome by us and our staff. We go out of our way to please our customers and if any of our guests needs something, we are available 24 hours. Of course, some guests like to do their own thing, whereas others quickly become part of the family. Transportation on the island is expensive, but we do what we can to let our guests know what the cheapest and best options are. We strongly suggest that anyone thinking about coming to Balenbouche reads our website and online visitor guide carefully, as well as our reviews, in order to make an informed decision on whether Balenbouche Estate is right for them. Every year, we have to turn down requests because we are booked. Therefore, we try to do our very best to attract only those visitors who will appreciate the beauty and authenticity of the historical and natural surroundings, and the family-run nature of this property.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviewed 11 March 2011

Located in the South, Balenbouche luckily is far away from the main tourist areas, but still in reach of some major attractions. We enjoyed the quiteness, the green, the simple but fantastic accomodation, the secluded beaches, and the warm and friendly hospitality.
Definitely recommended for everyone who wants to relax for a few days.

  • Stayed February 2011, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank alex_t_11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Santa Fe, New Mexico
2 reviews
Reviewed 14 February 2011

Balenbouche Estate is a gem in the sense that it is authentically caribbean. The grounds are lush. The accommodations are charming in the same sense. This is where one experiences the real West Indies. The meals were out of this world. Fresh, organic produce cooked expertly into very tasty dishes. My husband thinks I actually lost weight during this trip and it wouldn't be because I didn't eat enough (there was plenty) but because the food was so healthy and delicious (not like spa cuisine - just wholesome and yummy). The owners/staff are very welcoming and we felt comfortable immediately.
Balenbouche in no way resembles a large resort. I imagine that it is not the place for those used to the comforts of a resort. It's more for travelers who want to explore St. Lucia and feel that they are staying in a place that is part of that islands' history.
Even if you don't stay at Balenbouche, definitely go for a tour and/or a meal. While we were there, many groups and individuals dined and toured. One afternoon, there was a wedding and the setting was beautiful.
The purpose of my visit was an outdoor painting workshop. There is plenty to paint right on the estate. It is a great destination for artists.

  • Stayed February 2011
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Helpful?
Thank suzkeeg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Brooklyn, New York
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 31 December 2010

We did not get to stay at Balenbouche, though many members of my party wish we had! Unfortunatly we were a large pary and they were already booked and we missed out, but we did stop by one evening for a tour and dinner. This was a real highlight of our trip. Such an eclectic look, lovely hosts, interesting history, and beautiful grounds drew us in immediatly. We are an artistic group, so felt right at home. Also with a few foodies in our party we loved the dinner. It was intimate and delicious. Probably the best rum punch we had on our trip and def the best lentils I've ever had! I can't believe they describe this meal as a buffet, it doesn't do it justice. Yes, it is a fixed meal of their choosing and you serve yourself from their lovely dining room. But it is freshly prepared with local ingredients, made specifically for the guests they have that night. There is nothing impersonal about this "buffet". We got there a little late to truely see the grounds, but loved the lilly pond, old barn, the one cottage we went into, which had a stone otside shower and outside tub(!) and the main house, what can I say it is charmingly decorated, beautifully historic, just a fantasy world. My whole party was talking about wanted to rent the place out for xmas 2 years from now, that how in love everyone was with the fod and atmosphere! Thanks Verena!! Also they have a great website that can serve as a good intro to St. Lucia.

  • Stayed December 2010, travelled with family
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Helpful?
Thank bean82_10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Balenbouche Estate

Property: Balenbouche Estate
Address: Balembouche, Laborie, St. Lucia
Phone Number:
Region: Caribbean > St. Lucia > Laborie Quarter > Laborie
Amenities:
Beach Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 B&Bs / Inns in Laborie
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Hotel Class:3 star — Balenbouche Estate 3*
Number of rooms: 4
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Balenbouche Estate is a Historic Plantation Guesthouse offering several tropical vacation cottages. The 80 acre property includes an expansive park with colonial plantation house, 18th century sugar mill, yoga barn, fruit orchards, lily ponds, nature trails and two secluded beaches just a 5 minute walk away. Balenbouche is not a resort and remains a working organic farm, heritage site, and family residence with a focus on wellness, sustainability and conservation. Our eco-chic accommodations are created from historic structures and sleep between 2 and 6 people, some include kitchens. We prepare breakfast daily, and dinner 2 - 3 times a week by reservation. There is a restaurant within walking distance. Several other St Lucia restaurants as well as a supermarket are a short drive away. We are located 20 minutes from the International airport and 30 minutes from the town of Soufriere, near many of the islands best attractions. Balenbouche is a magical place, a world in itself, popular with artists, photographers, green travelers, wedding couples, honeymooners and families. Our family has owned and managed the estate for three generations. Gradually, the property was transformed into a well known St Lucia attraction, guesthouse and retreat venue. Many of our guests feel very much at home at Balenbouche Estate, and keep returning! ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Balenbouche Estate Hotel Laborie
Balenbouche Estate St. Lucia/Laborie

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