What To Expect
St Lucians are friendly and helpful – but pretty laid back. “Don’t worry; be happy” could be their national motto. Rain is merely “liquid sunshine”. “Island time” is real and prevalent, but plan on being on time or a little early for tours – the sunset sail catamaran won’t wait for you for very long! If you are getting very hungry or thirsty shortly before leaving for a restaurant, eat a little snack and drink something – it can take a while to get served your food or beverages (or sometimes to even get your order taken).
The economy is built on tourism and fishing and agriculture, all low-paying industries. So the standard of living is not very high, especially when it comes to big-ticket items such as homes or cars. But the cost of living is not as high, either. It is possible to live off the land entirely – plenty of fish in the ocean, fruits and vegetables grow year-round, and no need for protection from cold weather. What St Lucians don’t have, they are frequently content to do without. Many people do not own cars, and are very happy.
People will appreciate receiving a tip for their services, but the service culture in St Lucia is not built around tipping individuals. Since the typical hourly wage for service people in St Lucia barely buys a Starbuck’s tall latte, we generally leave some cash as a token of our appreciation for their friendliness and help.
Yes, it will be warm and a bit humid – St Lucia is a rainforest island surrounded by water not too far from the equator. Daytime highs are in the mid-to upper 80’s (January – April) or upper 80’s to low/mid 90’s (May – December). Nights will be about 10 degrees cooler. We usually get some breezes at the villa that make it feel more comfortable. In the “winter” (Dec-April), you may want a light long-sleeved shirt for the evenings if you get a little chilled when breezes blow across you even with temperatures in the 70’s.
Your days should mostly be full of bright sunshine with passing clouds, and possibly brief showers (especially in the rainy season). Many times, the rain occurs overnight or in the early morning. We are frequently blessed with double rainbows early in the morning as the sun rises over the mountains to the east of us. Days that are complete rainouts are infrequent, even in the rainy season.
the views and experiences
St Lucia is a volcanic and mountainous island, with lush and tropical vegetation. Bougainvillea and flamboyant trees splash brilliant pinks, oranges and reds against the green backdrop. Banana plantations line the roads and hillsides, with huge dark green leaves and bright blue bags protecting the heavy bunches of bananas from the birds. Mango trees with glossy leaves drop hundreds of ripe orange mangos alongside the road in season, waiting to be collected and eaten. You may even come across someone climbing a coconut tree to harvest the green coconuts that vendors, with their pickup truck by the side of the road, use a machete to open so you can drink the refreshing coconut water.
As the roads wind through the island, the view plays peek-a-boo with the Caribbean and mountains and deep valleys. Every few miles, you’ll drive through small villages of colorful houses, with the residents walking along the streets with their children. Don’t be surprised to come across goats or dogs on the road, or even a few chickens crossing the road (to get to the Pitons, of course!).
the food and beverages
The climate in St Lucia is wonderful for growing tropical fruits and lots of fresh vegetables. Mangoes, papaya, guava, passion fruit, pineapples, watermelon – and the most delicious bananas you’ve ever eaten – are just a few of the fruits grown on the island. Mahi-mahi, kingfish and tuna caught by local fishermen may very well be the freshest fish you’ve ever had. Chicken, goat, lamb, pork, and grass-fed beef (flavorful, but best for stews or braising) are raised locally.
Local cooking is strongly influenced by Indian and Creole cuisine. Curries, hot sauces, and creole sauces are prevalent. Roti are very popular: curried filling such as chicken, potatoes, onions, and carrots are wrapped in a very thin flatbread.
For your sweet tooth, local bananas are delicious flambéed with butter, brown sugar, and local rum, served over ice cream or just splashed with heavy cream. Local cocoa or lemon provides the flavor for delicious cakes, and the local coffee is smooth and mild.
Rum is the “adult” drink of choice, with numerous variations produced on the island. Rum punch is the unofficial drink of the island, and Doxie’s is excellent. than you intended. The popular local beer is Piton beer – an easy-drinking light lager, similar to Corona, usually served ice-cold.
the indoor-outdoor lifestyle
The temperate climate in St Lucia is ideal for “outdoor-indoor” living, and St Lucian architecture evolved around this. This style emphasizes harmony with the outdoors, and does not try to create an impenetrable barrier between the interior and exterior (for instance, windows are not covered with glass). Doors are left open during the daytime to catch the breezes and air conditioners, where present, can only help a little by blowing cool air on the occupants of the room.
Heavy wooden louvers, covering numerous and large windows, are easily adjusted to capture the breeze while blocking direct sunlight to keep the house cool. Ceiling fans and high-speed standing fans assist the natural breezes, when needed.
It’s very common to have a hungry bird visit you in the kitchen or see a shy gecko dart under the furniture. This also means other small creatures such as insects can get in, too, at dusk or after dark with the lights on.
Some people, especially from cooler climates, have a little difficulty adjusting to the warmer sleeping temperatures of open-air homes. To make sleeping more comfortable for our guests we have installed wall-unit air conditioners in the bedrooms. With no glass on the windows and interior walls that do not reach the ceiling, the air conditioners are not capable of and were not intended to cool the room – they are positioned to blow cool air on the bed to make sleeping a little more comfortable.
our spacious and stylish villa
Villa Grand Piton has nearly 4000 square feet of interior space, with high ceilings (reaching 17 feet at the peak), and interior walls that do not go all the way to the ceiling. The open design makes it feel even more spacious and also allows a cross-breeze through the house. The villa has six sets of double doors on the back wall that can be thrown wide open to enjoy the stunning view of the Pitons or bolted securely closed for your peace of mind at night. We recommend you do what we do – open all the doors when you first wake up to savor the sunrise while you eat breakfast and plan your day.
As you can see from the pictures, we didn’t go to the local thrift shop to furnish the villa. Over the past few years, we’ve replaced, repaired, renovated, or refreshed about 90% of the furniture and equipment. Beds from Pottery Barn, elegant curved desks from Grandin Road, pillows and floats from Frontgate, Kingsley Bate teak outdoor furniture, custom-finished accent tables, dining chairs from Ballard Designs, even a custom-made hickory and iron dining table grace our home. You won’t find my grandma’s chipped dishes in our cupboards – it’s pure white bone china and real crystal wineglasses. We’ve even replaced all the old ceiling fans with brand-new, more-effective ones like the one in the master bedroom to keep the house cooler. (Unfortunately, I have not been to the villa to take new pictures of all the rooms due to COVID).
High thread-count sheets, Sealy pillowtop mattresses in two degrees of support (if you like, try them and find your favorite – the staff can move the mattress to your selected bedroom), and several types of pillows are all designed to help you have a good night’s sleep. If you like to relax and watch a movie, we have a spacious TV room with an extensive movie library, a large-screen TV and an audio surround system (with a great subwoofer in case you love “Phantom of the Opera”). If none of our movies appeal to you, we have NetFlix and Amazon Prime, too. If you need to work off a little of Doxie’s cooking, we have a stationary bike and a balance ball. Finally, if you want to check out our website while you’re at the villa to get the restaurant list, we have a computer and printer for your use – and free WiFi that extends out to the gazebo!
Located in the southwest part of the island, Soufriere is home to the iconic Pitons and the drive-in volcano and mud baths. Everything is spread out, with the buildings dotting the hillsides. In the village of Soufriere, most of the people you see will be St Lucian residents, not other tourists.
Villa Grand Piton is just outside Soufriere, perched on top of a hill, 550 feet above sea level. The roads are narrow and rough, but the destination is worth the drive (as one of our guests said, “The road to heaven is never easy”). Once you arrive at Villa Grand Piton, you’ll feel like you are in your own private world. Surrounded by lush tropical foliage, you’ll look down on the other villas and resorts in the area. Most of the time, all you will hear is the breeze rustling the leaves, the birds, the crickets, and the tree frogs singing the music of the night. Your visitors will be the birds begging for some breadcrumbs or bananas, the hummingbirds drinking from the flowers, the dragonflies darting around, and a few small shy geckos.
Soufriere is hidden from view by the top of the hill, so you’ll only know it is there by the glow of their lights at night. If you look heavenward, you’ll be rewarded with the beauty of the night sky, with more stars than you’ve probably ever seen. If you are patient, you may see shooting stars.
Our staff will be there to ensure your stay is memorable. Doxie keeps the villa spotless and makes the best rum punch around. She can cook a fabulous dinner for you, help you make arrangements for a massage, give you directions to the volcano, or just plain make you smile with her infectious laugh. Kerryus, a cheerful young man with a song in his heart and on his lips, our groundskeeper, keeps the pool sparkling clean and maintains everything. John, our trusty night caretaker, spends his time outside the villa but is nearby in case you need something overnight, and can give you great advice on climbing the Pitons. If there is something you need, any one of them is ready and willing to help you.