Without walls: Why St Lucia's Jade Mountain is no ordinary hotel
December 22, 2010
Jade Mountain’s views of the Pitons bewitched Joanna Booth when she visited the island of St LuciaHow much do you like wine? Quite a lot, right? But I’d hazard a guess that you’re not as dedicated to it as Eric Toles, restaurant manager and sommelier at Jade Mountain.
Jade Mountain’s views of the Pitons bewitched Joanna Booth when she visited the island of St Lucia
How much do you like wine? Quite a lot, right? But I’d hazard a guess that you’re not as dedicated to it as Eric Toles, restaurant manager and sommelier at Jade Mountain.
On October 30, when Hurricane Tomas was battering St Lucia and any sane man would be cowering in the bathtub, Eric was fighting his way over one of the hotel’s open bridges, lashed by gale force winds and soaked to the skin – and all to retrieve a few bottles of wine from the restaurant.
These were destined for Jade Mountain’s guests, who were all being served a five-course banquet as part of a special culinary weekend.
It’s a fair reflection of the hotel’s commitment to customer service that Eric and the rest of the staff struggled on through the hurricane, delivering all the courses to the guests safely in their rooms.
This feat becomes rather more impressive when you know the layout of Jade Mountain. It’s no ordinary hotel – no boxy shell, no enclosed, Shining-esque corridors, and fewer walls than one might expect.
'Where other hotels have that silly fourth wall, Jade Mountain has a swimming pool'
It’s very easy to write, as every review does, that the rooms at Jade Mountain have a missing wall. It’s much harder to actually convey what this is like.
‘Room’ doesn’t really do it justice. The hotel calls them ‘sanctuaries’, and there are just 29. It’s a bit like having your own personal holiday bat-cave.
At the back, raised up and tucked behind a half-wall for a sense of privacy, there’s the bathroom, which comes with a rainshower, double sinks, and a huge sunken jacuzzi bath.
In front of this stands a large four-poster bed, surrounded by billowing white curtains, though we had no problems with mosquitos here.
Then there’s a living area, with comfy sofas, tables, chairs to recline and read in – all tasteful neutral shades and sustainably-sourced timber. And then comes the missing fourth wall.
Imagine having a stunning view of the Pitons as your own living wallpaper. You wake to see the Pitons in the dawn light; sip a drink and watch them as the sun sets.
You trace their outline against a bright blue sky; you see them wreathed momentarily in cloud as a rainstorm passes over the island. On paper it might sound monotonous, but this is not a view you can ever tire of.
Especially not when it’s doubled; reflected in the waters of your own private infinity pool, which pours over the edge of room.
Yes, where other hotels have that silly fourth wall, Jade Mountain has a swimming pool.
'Every dish is presented with the same dainty perfection'
Jade Mountain’s sanctuaries all face the Pitons, with the land in front dropping sharply away so it seems there is nothing between you and the view.
All comings and goings happen behind the closed rear walls, where a network of hanging bridges criss-cross the area, garlanded in vines.
Tiny ponds full of fish and brightly flowering plants that attract hummingbirds sit alongside networks of steps. These lead down to the reception and the spa, or up to the restaurant, which sits at the very top of the hotel.
The Jade Mountain Club has the fourth wall missing too, so you can dine while caressed by a cool breeze.
The food is truly exceptional. Local fisherman provide the freshest fish, vegtables and salads are grown on the hotel’s organic farm. Influences from all over the world can be found on the menu, but every dish is presented with the same dainty perfection.
It would be easy to dine there every night, but guests aren’t limited to the one restaurant.
Jade Mountain sits just higher up the hill from its sister property Anse Chastanet, so guests can easily walk 100 yards and eat at either Treetops, the hotel’s signature restaurant, or head slightly further down the hill for beachside dining, which offers light meals during the day and an Indian menu at night.
Jade and Anse share beach facilities. Loungers are lined up amongst palm trees on the black sand, and at one end there’s a dive school, with snorkelling and scuba facilities, and the jetty from which sunset cruises leave.
A short walk around the headland leads to the hotel’s quieter second beach, which has its own beach bar and open air grill.
'It’s hugely tempting not to leave Jade Mountain at all'
This beach sits in front of Anse Mamin, a former sugar plantation within the grounds of the hotels. Informal tours of the plantation run every afternoon and give a wonderful insight into the history of St Lucia, as well as its flora and fauna.
Our guide, Meno, knew every aspect of the plantation’s past, and could not only name every plant and tree, but also knew its medicinal qualities – knowledge passed down from his grandmother.
We watched as he found aloe vera to soothe a guest’s bites, gave himself a temporary tattoo with a fern, and broke open a coconut without a machete.
It’s hugely tempting not to leave Jade Mountain at all. With any dish and any meal available for in-room dining, some guests hardly set foot outside their sanctuaries.
But St Lucia has a lot to offer, from thrilling zip-lining to magical sunset cruises. Each guest has a personal major domo to see to their needs, and as well as booking restaurants and spa treatments, butlers can organise trips and activities around the island.
You can contact your butler at any time with a tiny mobile phone like device called a firefly. And the joy is, these function across the entire island.
So once you’ve climbed the Pitons, or visited the volcanic Sulphur Springs, or drunk a beer or two at Gros Islet’s Friday night street party, you’re only one press of a button away from being whisked back to your own little slice of heaven, encased in three walls.