|Travel Agent recently returned from a visit to Coconut Bay Beach & Resort & Spa in St. Lucia.|
After two appearances on "The Bachelor," ABC's hit reality show centered around newlyweds-to-be, St. Lucia showed the world all of its glamorous five-star resorts that attract affluent clients who enjoy some romance and wellness at no expense.
But what about St. Lucia's more affordable properties?
Well, you're not going to find any Best Western or Hampton Suites hotels on The Bachelor anytime soon, but that doesn't mean St. Lucia doesn't offer viable alternatives to some of the island's more expensive properties. St. Lucia does have some high quality, mid-level resorts for clients who aren't necessary looking to break the bank.
And Travel Agent thinks we may have just visited St. Lucia's best in this category.
Meet Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa, an 85-acre resort that recently invested $5 million upgrading the hotel and is a great fit for both couples and families.
Although the offerings for couples are impressive, the strength of this resort can be found in its family offerings simply because it has no other strong competitors in that market in St. Lucia. After all, there are no Beaches Resorts, Sandals Resorts International's immensely popular brand of family hotels in the Caribbean, in St. Lucia.
In that sense, Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa could be in a league of its own.
About The Resort
This 250-room resort feels like two different hotels in one as it strictly separates families from couples using its Splash section, which houses a Kids' Club, a family swimming pool and room accommodations for families, and its Harmony side, which is home to an adults-only swimming pool, the hotel's spa and other accommodations strictly for guests 18 years old and older. Agents should note, however, that clients staying in the Harmony wing are allowed to use the facilities of the Splash side, but Splash guests 16 years old and younger cannot use the facilities of the Harmony side.
|Our room at Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa, a Harmony Concierge Ocean View Junior Suite|
Room refreshments continued this year with new tiling in bathroom showers in over 80 percent of the resort’s guestrooms, including Gardenview, Oceanview and Premium Oceanview categories. Gardenview and Oceanview rooms in both the Splash and Harmony wings were also updated with new paint and decor including new headboards and contemporary linens.
We stayed in room no. 465, a Harmony Concierge Junior Suite Oceanview, which is one of about 30 rooms that have access to two private concierges. Guests of these rooms get a personal cell phone to call any of the two concierges located on the floor, serving essentially as butlers for guests. They can perform anything from arranging dinner reservations to taking care of personal requests. The best part of the room, however, was the balcony, which offers views of just about every highlight of the resort from the ocean to the gardens to the swimming pools and bars. Rates for these rooms range from $663 to $929 a night. All of these rooms come with top shelf alcohol, beer and snacks. In fact, the only rooms that do not come with alcohol in the mini bar are the standard rooms.
The Oceanfront Kai Mer Spa, located on the Harmony side, received its own renewing treatment of fresh paint and new tiling throughout its 11,000 square foot serenity areas. The reception area was modest with a simple welcoming station stocked with various refreshments, including the delicious watermelon-flavored water.
We highly recommend the Kai Mer Tranquility Massage for spa lovers who enjoy a classic massage without all the bells and whistles. Travel Agent has done everything from hot stone to hot sea shell massages before, but this traditional full-body massage was performed to perfection as our masseuse, Ange, hit all the pressure points and spent the perfect amount of time on each body part. The treatment is priced at $99 for 60-minutes. Tipping is encouraged. We recommend a 20 percent tip depending on the level of guest satisfaction.
The Kids' Clubs
|The sprinkler area of the CocoLAnd Kidz Klub|
The CocoLand Kidz Klub was also quite impressive and had some unqiue offerings for a Kids' Club. There is a mini-zip line, a small paint ball area and an outdoor playground with sprinklers. At the CocoLand Waterpark, Saint Lucia’s largest, the quarter-mile plus Lazy River was resurfaced and convenient new public restrooms were added to the adjacent Splash Pool Deck. Parents can even rent free cell phones here so they can periodically check in on their children.
The three best restaurants here also happen to be the three restaurants where reservations are required. It's recommended to reserve a table the night before, but clients should still be safe booking the morning of. The three that require reservations are Silk, which serves Asian cuisine; Capri, which serves Italian; and Calabash, which serves Caribbean cuisine (ask for the bacon jam).
There are also some "pop-up" dining venues along the resort. For example, clients can actually book a dinner in the shallow end of the adults-only pool, which comes up to most people's ankles. This dinner costs $109 per couple and includes top shelf food and drink items that are not included in the room rate.
Kite surfing instructor Luis Catalao gives Travel Agent magazine a free demonstration. Warning: It's harder than he made it look.
Got clients looking for some action adventure while staying at Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa? Tell them about the property's newest activity, kite surfing. We were told you need about 50 knots of wind to get going, but if the conditions are not ideal for newbies, any of the resort's kite surfing instructors will give you a free demonstration. When Travel Agent attempted to try our hand at the sport, the wind was not heavy at all, so instructor Luis Catalao didn't mind showing us how it was done. Although he made it look pretty easy, we were told it takes at least nine hours of instruction for clients to get the hang of it.
|Private rum tastings are offered by Walter Capasso, director of food and beverage|
New to the activities are Rums of the Caribbean tastings with a rum master providing guests samples of the bounties of St. Lucia and the top spirits of the Caribbean. The entertainment staff will also premiere new performances and live shows for the coming season. The night of our arrival we were greeted by Walter Capasso, director of food and beverage, who treated us to a rum tasting, using the resort's premium rums from the El Dorado 15 from Guyana to the local Chairman's Reserve to Appleton Estate Rum from Jamaica. Capasso says rum tastings can be arranged for clients before or after dinner and should be booked the morning of.
Physical refreshments can be found at the resort’s adults-only Harmony Wing, which now offers an expansive new pool and Jacuzzi-style hot tub, bringing the number of Coconut Bay pools to five, the second at Harmony.
The Harmony Pool Bar has also been enlarged, and with the launch of new beach and pool-side waiter service, guests can order signature drinks like the Mango Tango and Splish Splash while relaxing under new cabanas.
I also loved the simple towel racks where clients can help themselves to a towel without the hassle of towel cards. Many times getting a towel at an all-inclusive resort requires towel cards that can be redeemed for towels. If the towel card is not returned by the end of a guest's stay, they are usually charged the cost of the towel. At Coconut Bay, there are full towel racks at both the family and adults-only pool.
Bartenders will be mixing their signature cocktails at the expanded Lobby Bar, featuring a 360-degree service area ensuring this popular gathering spot will be hotter than ever, with new fire pits and a gazebo offering intimate spaces to sit back and socialize as the sun sets.
Additionally, a refurbished reception area will greet arriving guests with a new water feature showcasing a resident bronze turtle and lush landscaping. To complement these improvements to the public areas, the restrooms adjacent to the Lobby were also remodeled, offering new tile, sinks and showers.
Even the Coconut Bay gift shop was included in the makeover and enlarged to provide additional floor space for browsing sundries and souvenirs, from sunscreen to tropical attire and beach toys for all ages.
The store now has a selection of duty free brands including perfume, jewelry and an extensive choice of premium brand liquors and imported cigars. They also sell small, $5 bottles of sunscreen, which is also rare at most Caribbean all-inclusive. Usually the cheapest bottle is about $20-$25 for a tub of sunscreen that guests will most likely end up wasting.
Expanded Wedding Site
Work also began on expanding the wedding site at Coconut Bay’s Eternity Beach. The additions expand the event offerings possible at this location transforming it into a tropically enchanting beachside venue for ceremonies and receptions to include food and beverage service.