Global Discovery Vacations member Karen B. took a winter trip to the lively Caribbean island of St. Lucia with a couple of her friends and they did just about every fun activity you could do there. And she put it all into this Member Monday! Hear about her stay at Bay Gardens Resort and then some:
Where would you recommend a fellow member to go to…
We were treated with the utmost respect and dignity from the moment we stepped off the airplane until we left. We did not rent a car, but arranged transportation for the three of us to the resort. The resort arranged a trusted taxi driver to meet us at the airport.
The people at Red Tiger Rental were always punctual, very courteous and helpful. We paid $30 U.S. each for the one and a half hour drive to the resort – a real bargain as the driver stopped along the way to allow some sightseeing and he explained the area to us. A very valuable history and geography lesson.
Bay Gardens, located in the Rodney Bay area, has three properties and is located on the opposite end of the island from the Hewanorra International Airport. The resort is located right on the beautiful Caribbean waters and they offer free shuttle service all day between the properties.
During our stay we all had a lot of sea food because that’s what the islands are noted for. Jacques on Marina Bay was about a half a block from the resort (easy walk) while Tapas on the Bay and Big Chef Steakhouse were within a mile. The shuttle could drop you off right by the restaurants.
Rainforest Hideaway was more than 30 minutes away and if you don’t have a car, taxi is your best bet (taxis could be a little pricey unless you had a total of six people going, then transportation was free). The restaurant, listed in all of our research was a can’t miss. Once you arrive you take a free water taxi across the bay to the restaurant. You must have reservations. You are hanging right over the water. I had coconut lion fish (not local), which was unbelievably wonderful. Our typical evening meal was usually between $25-45 U.S., which included a drink, appetizer, entrée and dessert to share.
There are plenty of shops within a mile of the resort and the shuttle goes right by them. Just ask and they will drop you off. I found very good deals, although I bought very little. We bargained and bought six T-shirts for our grandchildren ($36 U.S.).
We also drove through the volcano. Be prepared for the sulfur smell. We skipped the so-called “healing” volcanic mud baths. If you do the mud baths, wear clothes you can throw away, as the mud baths will ruin them.
The rainforest tour via the sky ride was a nice ride. You don’t see any animals so if that’s why you are going, don’t be disappointed. There were several zip lines and people had a great time.
On Friday nights, they have a popular event called “Jump Up.” It’s local food, music and crafts. The resort had a shuttle take us and pick us up for a small $10 fee. It was an experience, but one we said we would not do again. There was a big crowd, (hang on to your purse) and lots of food that we did not recognize. We did barter and got some well-made jewelry.
We also went to Pigeon Point National Park ($15 U.S. water taxi; $7 entrance) and saw the ruins of the old fort which helped guard the island in years past. It’s a hike, but we’re all over 55 and we were able to do it. The small café on the island has a history all its own.
What was your favorite…
Just hanging at the resort and taking in the unbelievable pool and Caribbean sea. The pool was a large circular pool with the hot tub in the center. They have plenty of lounge chairs, just ask security and they will get you one and place it where you like.
The restaurant is right there with servers to meet your needs. They have all kind of motorized and non-motorized equipment for you to use. Happy hour happens every day in the afternoon. Where else can you get two mudslides or two daiquiris in regular glass cups for about $7.50 U.S.?
The resort had shuttle service, a concierge that will take care of all of your needs (Jay was great and Beatrice will arrange all of your excursions, rides, etc.). They also have a large inflatable water park on site where kids have a blast. The spa facilities are great (Nadia does a great massage and facial. One hour for almost half of what you would pay in the states).
Place to go in the destination:
Doing an eight-hour tour of the island is well worth it. We did it on a huge catamaran. Bring plenty of sunscreen. We skipped the moon light cruises and the pirate ship cruises, as one cruise was enough.
They also had snorkeling equipment on the catamaran for the various stops along the way. We saw the beautiful Piton mountains. We rode horses and rode them in the ocean, which was quite a thrill.
Why did you choose this destination? Were you traveling for a special occasion?
When we couldn’t find a two-bedroom condo, we decided to take what was offered, which was a one-bedroom in St. Lucia. It worked out just wonderful for the three of us (my two friends and myself). When we saw the information for the resort we were expecting a one-bedroom with one bath. What a pleasant surprise to have a bath and a half.
This vacation was no special occasion, just the normal getaway from cold and snow to warmth and sun. The weather was 80s everyday and sunny. We had occasional rain showers, which the locals refer to as “liquid sunshine”!
What was your favorite memory of your vacation?
Too many to count. The beauty of the island, the great and friendly people on the island and the way we were treated. I strongly recommend Global Discovery Vacations send members to the resort.
Any tips for a traveler to this resort or destination? Anything you think they should bring?
Don’t let the price of things scare you as everything is in East Caribbean Dollar, equaling about $2.70 to the U.S. dollar. Several banks in town have North American currency.
We paid with all U.S. money and used major credit cards that converted the E.C. dollar to U.S. We tipped in U.S. bills and the people loved it. All of your bills have a value-added tax (like our state tax) and most have a 15 percent service charge. We found out the 15 percent is split among all the staff and not just to your server. We usually paid our typical evening meal with a credit card and tipped the server in cash.
Nobody will not accept any American dollars that have a rip in them, not even the banks. If they see the bill is ripped they will just bring it back.
Because we had a condo and cooking facilities, we went grocery shopping the day after we got there. Groceries actually are pretty comparable to the prices in the U.S. Of course, some things are more expensive and others less. We bought bottled water all the time.
Bring lots of 30-SPF or higher sunscreen.
We only needed bug spray when we went to the rainforest. Not even sure there were mosquitoes. St. Lucia, according to the Center for Disease Control, does not have the Zika mosquito.
If you are a huge animal (dog) lover you may have a problem with the island. They have a huge population of stray, unwanted dogs. Now, if you have an inclination to take one home, that can be done – for a cost, of course. Don’t be surprised if you are dining outdoors and dogs wander in. That happened all the time.
The resort has 24-hour security, which is great. Safety cannot be stressed enough. Crime is high on the island due to poverty, however, at no point did we feel the least bit unsafe. The resort people were extremely protective of us and stressed where we should not venture out to. They arranged safe rides with drivers they trusted. Keep your guard up and your valuables close by you. Don’t wear flashy jewelry, as that only attracts unwanted attention.
The rooms have a safe, so we were able to lock all of our extra money and passports in there.
I’m a retired professional who travels a few times a year. I always try to do a winter vacation through Global and I have never been disappointed. This time, they far outdid my expectations.
How long have you been a Global Discovery Vacations member?
Joined in 2002.
Why did you join the club?
Because Global Discovery Vacations offered such a wonderful program and, at the time, we had decided when we retired we would really take advantage of the membership. I try to use it as much as possible. Our children and my siblings have also used it.
Why do you think traveling is important?
It is a chance to get away from your day-to-day happenings and, for a brief time, be pampered and waited on. It refreshes the mind, body and soul. Vacations are so wonderful because you get a chance to see other parts of the world, some places where you wish to return and others maybe not so much. Global gives me the chance to do that. I am so grateful we joined when we did.
Photos courtesy of Bay Gardens Resort.