St. Lucia Revisited

Courtesy Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort

At hotels like Ladera resort, nature remains the star of the show.

At Ladera (rooms, from $525; Rabot Estate, Soufrière; 866-290-0978;, a resort nestled in the southwest hills of St. Lucia, the suites have three walls, with the fourth missing in favor of a tropical view. As my wife and I arrived after nightfall, come sunrise we looked around—and gaped. The Caribbean was framed by an unparalleled panorama of the Pitons, a pair of volcanic remnants that rise with majesty and menace. In the valley between them, palm trees fluttered. Birds sang noisily. Ladera has been around for 21 years but was recently refurbished. (The refit is ongoing.) It’s a bit folksy, with lots of (okay, too many) local woodcarvings—on the walls, beds, you name it. But the place feels magical—so much so that my wife announced she half expected King Kong to bound up and pluck her from our room. The inconvenience of not having a beach of its own is diminished by Ladera’s shuttle to Sugar Beach, which is largely occupied by the new Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort (rooms, from $440; Vals des Pitons, Soufrière; 800-235-4300; Ladera may be more distinctive, but Sugar Beach is executed with such blissfully good taste that if one stays here, there would be little reason to leave. But I can think of two reasons, both close by. The first: a tour of Diamond Falls botanical gardens. The second: Orlando’s (Fond Bernier, Soufrière; 758-572-6613), a cramped, hot restaurant where the chef’s farm-to-table dishes offer local flavor. Which, after time spent at the big resorts, tastes very good indeed.