dropcap]O[/dropcap]n a recent site visit, by invitation, to Royalton – former location of Club Saint Lucia at Smugglers Cove – I was drowned with memories. You see this was the first hotel I stayed at when my then boyfriend was doing everything possible to convince me to leave the City of Angels and relocate to his island, Saint Lucia! Incredibly, that was thirty years ago! I must admit I was not too thrilled at the time with my now husband’s choice of hotels.
To say the very least, Hotel Del Coronado it was not or the Beverly Wilshire, my favorite home away from home at the time. But this was the Caribbean and the magic and romance was everywhere. I decided to give up San Diego and move to simply beautiful Saint Lucia—with no sense of what I was about to get into even as Rick Wayne’s girlfriend. The rest is pretty well known. I was naturally curious when my friend Andre Dhanpaul, the Royalton General Manager, invited me to visit. So much was in the wind about the new resort, some wonderful, some, well, not too uplifting. I called Liana Venturi (another old friend of the STAR) for directions. With all the changes that reportedly had been made (some naysayers had assured me the whole character of Smugglers Cove had been destroyed!) and knowing my lousy sense of direction, I didn’t want to find myself lost. What a transformation!
It brought to mind the Fontainebleau that had changed not only itself from a rundown hotel but also the whole Miami Beach ambience into previously unimagined splendor. Club Saint Lucia, like the Fontainebleau, was bulldozed. The new buildings took just eighteen months to construct—a miracle by Saint Lucian standards. By all accounts the new resort will be the largest hotel employer on the island—900 staff in total. Which is fantastic news for everyone!
The Royalton resembles nothing like we’ve seen before in Saint Lucia. It’s big. To borrow from the U.S. President, it’s very big. Huge. The surroundings remind of a small city. Think the most opulent Las Vegas resort: 13 restaurants and cafes, 24 bars and drinking areas, and three distinct sections: a family-friendly vacation experience with 349 rooms and suites in the general resort; an adults-only oasis with 104 luxury suites in the tranquil Hideaway region; Diamond Club featuring butler service and exclusive pool, beach and dining areas.
This place has everything! If you choose the family section, rest assured there is everything kids would want. Upgrades to the Diamond Club assure guests of never-ending pampering; the suites are modern and luxurious with welcoming lemon grass scents! To all of that add butler service. If decadent luxury is your dream, realize it at the Royalton. I think I’ve found at last my special retreat from work. My Zen place! I almost forgot the ubiquitous pools! And the beach has been given a makeover with the whitest of sand. Even the rain is taking a break to allow workers to meet their scheduled opening day on February 17. As for those naysayers who doubted the folks behind the one-of-a-kind resort could possibly fill its rooms, keep in mind it has its own airline. So, Saint Lucia, are you ready for luxury on tap? The Royalton is open to residents. I can hardly wait for the official opening—a party not to be missed!