This was the trip that almost convinced me to run away from home...no really, after just four days at this island paradise, I was ready to join a Caribbean Dance troupe and settle into my own private hut in this quiet fishing community. The breathtaking ocean views, tantalizing cuisine, fun-filled days of adventures, and lazy afternoons by the pool at the Coconut Bay Spa and Resort tempted me daily to chuck away city life for good. I had never been so pampered, never felt so carefree, I was 100% completely spoiled and I loved every minute of it.
Poolside at Coconut Bay
The Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa not only offers a relaxing escape for busy professionals but also serves as tropical escape for couples, families and kids. The quiet getaway nestled on 84 coconut palm-fringed acres along St. Lucia’s south coast boasts 254 guest-rooms, three swimming pools, Kai Mer Spa, a full service spa, Kidz Club and the island's largest water park. There’s a little something for everyone, from the adventure seeker to the pampered princess, this resort offers an array of activities to fit every heart’s desire.
For me, this adventure started off good and got progressively better with each passing day. After being bumped up to first class upon check in at the airport, the six-hour flight from the Midwest seemed painless (especially after my second glass of champagne.)
Upon arrival I was greeted with a lovely drink of island brewed Coconut Rum served in a real coconut to enjoy while reception checked me into my room. Shortly after, I was invited to tour the grounds, which to my surprise, were much larger than I expected. I discovered that the property hosts tennis & basketball courts, a hiking trail, and complete fitness center for those more athletically inclined and a kid’s area appropriately called the Kidz Club that lists an array of activities for children aged 3-14.
In addition, the resort features two specialty restaurants: Silk, offering Asian Cuisine, and Bellagio Italian, a la carte dining, as well as Coconut Walk, a buffet-style restaurant, a relaxed beachside grill, three bars, and a swim-up pool bar.
We sampled each restaurant and my favorite by far was Silk, although I ate daily at the beachside grill due to convienece. (The grill stayed open from sun up to sun down making it possible for you to snack throughout the day on burgers, fries and popular American cuisine. The fact that it is centrally located makes it a convenient pit stop.)
The layout of the resort features two seemingly different worlds within one property. Guestrooms were divided into two separate wings: Families stay in rooms closer to all the action of the Cocoland Water Park and Kidz Klub, while the wing for adults is situated near the Kai Mer Spa and adult-only area, complete with cabana beds and hammocks. The design allows for adults to enjoy quiet time without kids, and for families to spend time together and away while teens and kids visit their own supervised areas.
During my stay, I enjoyed a premium suite on the fourth floor of the hotel facing the spa and adult pool. Every room includes at least a partial view of the ocean from the balcony, while premium rooms on my floor offered unobstructed views.
Coconut Bay Guest Room
Reserving a room with either a king-size bed or two queen-size beds also gets you a comfortable, separate sitting area and private balcony with your package.
Basic room amenities include air conditioning, ceiling fans, satellite TV, direct dial telephone, in-room safe, iron, ironing board and bathroom with shower and hairdryer. Wireless internet connection is also available in certain locations on property. I was able to connect to for a small fee.
CocoLand offers two schedules. CocoKidz for children ages 3-9 and CocoAdventure for ages 10-14. Both give children access to the island’s largest water park with waterslides, lazy river and water play ground. In addition, children enjoy arts and crafts, games, nature trails, outdoor expeditions, an air-conditioned club house, and quiet napping quarters.
Upon registration each child is gifted with a CocoPack which includes a T-shirt, bag, hat, mini scrapbook and water bottle to keep the kids cool during outdoor fun. As children participate in the various CocoLand activities, they will receive a different gift each day until they have the complete set. Keeping in mind that children of varied ages have different abilities and interests, additional activities include dancing, singing, and treasure hunts throughout the grounds that allow parents to catch a glimpse of activities. In turn, Teens can find fun at Da Buzz, the resort club for 13-17 year olds complete with X-Box 360’s, soda and snack bar, movies and organized activities.
Family Fun Adventure
St. Lucia offers an array of offsite activities; guests can take advantage of the great excursions at the Adventure St. Lucia Desk. Thrill seekers can ride ATVs, zipline through the rainforest on a canopy tour or hike the Piton Mountains. Water-lovers can head offsite for snorkeling, scuba diving, wind surfing or kit boarding.
I’m not a big fan of water sports but I did conquer my swimming phobia on this trip with the encouragement of fellow journalists and island natives. After 45 minutes of flapping uncontrollably in the water and three solid minutes of crying, I learned how to float and utilize my scuba gear. With my irrational fear of drowning in three feet of water quelled, I ventured out into deeper waters and with the aid of two life jackets and several lifeguards, stuck my face underwater in order to observe several rocks as I had long scared off any fishes with my earlier clumsy attempts at scuba diving.
Therefore, my recommendation for an unforgettable family fun adventure is to experience the ATV & Canopy Tours.
On our ATV adventure we were guided along designated tracks to explore untouched areas of St. Lucia including a banana plantation and old growth rainforest. ATV Paradise Tours Ltd. is located on 1,000 acres of lush tropical land with over 40 different fruit trees, tropical plants and flowers in Fond Estate, Micoud, on the East coast of Saint Lucia. Our three-hour tour included stunning mountain top views and authentic island cuisine hosted by St. Lucia banana farmers. We explored the grounds at a leisurely pace, allowing us opportunity to glimpse exotic flowers and even stop for a swim in the clearest, warmest water I’ve ever experienced at a local private beach. At the conclusion of the tour, I walk along the vendor stands on the road outside the property. There I sampled another island favorite--Banana wine--which retailed at $15 US and banana butter for $3 US.
This exciting excursion is for the more daring adventure seekers. Located in the heart of the rainforest, patrons enjoy a bird’s eye view as you zip through nine platforms on a system of harnesses and pulleys suspended in the air. This adventure offers a unique view of the tropical forest and river as you literally fly with the greatest of ease! Trained guides are stationed at each platform to assist and provide you with information and safety procedures throughout the course.
I absolutely loved zip-lining! My adrenalin kicked into high gear as I was strapped in and led up the trail for the first jump. The first platform was the lowest and shortest jump, and I volunteered to go first. The guide explained how to work the pulleys as he strapped me to the lines that connected to the cable above me. He calmly explained how I could brake to control my free fall and what to do if I got stuck midway through.
The first jump went seamlessly, nevermind the fact that I screamed and shouted obscenities the whole way. When I landed at the second platform unhurt and intact, I was hooked! Each jump after went higher and spanning longer distances. I sailed over a small pond and climped higher and higher to a final jump 50 feet in the air towering over trees and streams.
Two nights per week, the staff joins together to hosts special theme nights- Caribbean and BBQ Night. During these evenings, dinner is served buffet style around the pool and guests are entertained by a live band playing the sounds of the Caribbean. I had the opportunity to attend Caribbean Night which was held on Saturday evening and was peppered with performances by Coconut Bay staff and a showcase of the Kidz Club guests before the main show. In addition to Caribbean, the band also played top forty and Motown tunes to the crowd pleasure.
Breathing Fire on Caribbean Night
Midway through the night, we were treated to a performance of island dancers and fire breathers. The troupe invited audience members to join them on stage and I was chosen to participate in the snake dance which consists of a jig with a boa constrictor wrapped around your neck. I danced with vigor until I discovered I was indeed dancing with a real snake and not a fake rubber one as I had originally believed!
The highlight of the evening, however, was having one of the flame throwers attempt to teach me how to eat fire--a skill I’m sure I will utilize at dinner parties and backyard barbeques for years to come.
For parents searching for quiet moments and relaxation away from the children and bustle of the family-oriented resort, the Kai Mer offers the perfect "getaway within a getaway". The full service spa is located oceanfront and features ocean view treatment rooms with private outdoor showers, a relaxation lounge, Swiss hydro shower, two steam rooms and two saunas. It offers an extensive selection of treatments including some for couples only.
Coconut Bay’s signature spa services include ocean front massages, which I sampled--relaxing so much I fell asleep halfway through! Also available is Coconilla –a combination treatment, and a "choose your own aloe" experience. The spa is also a full service beauty salon providing a variety of hair and nail treatments.
I arrived at the spa in the late afternoon and was led to a private room to change into my coveted white terry cloth rode. A bamboo-lined deck housed the outside massage area, where I disrobed and settled in for relaxation as the waves served as a gentle soundtrack in the background.
Couples Massage Room at Coconut Bay
I think it was during my pampering session that I began to have serious reservations about returning home. The entire experience seemed so surreal. In one weekend I had overcome a childhood phobia, danced with a snake and repelled through the rainforest suspended 50 feet in the air. The only thing that topped my adventure was the attentiveness of the resort’s friendly and professional staff, my endless access to jerk chicken and coconut rum and perfect island weather. I had found the closest thing to heaven on earth as possible and I was not willing to leave without a fight.
I weighed my options, I could join the dance troupe and learn how to breathe fire so I'd be able to spend a fair amount of time working at the resort… I could become a chef and work at Silk, so I could sample their cuisine daily...
In the end, the prospect of life change proved to be too overwhelming during my pamper time and instead I decided to focus on enjoying my last moments of paradise as the therapist worked out any lingering signs of stress in my tired muscles.
My final day at the resort began with a cup of tea and quiet reflection on my balcony. I packed my suitcase with the silence of a mourner and slowly made my way to the reception area for check out. I took a final stroll of the grounds and smiled with reverence at the beach grill as a silent goodbye to my favorite haunt. I fought the urge of throwing myself on the ground in protest as I passed the spa and sauna and slowly made my way towards the exit. As the shuttle arrived to take me to the airport, I was handed a coconut filled with island rum and I smiled to myself at the circle of completion. My mission of relation had been accomplished and it was time to go home… at least until I could perfect my fire breathing act!