|Sebastian & Dawn stayed here while it was the Jalousie Hilton Resort & Spa We had an absolutely wonderful time at the Jalousie Hilton Resort & Spa. This was our second visit, celebrating our 10th anniversary. First time was 5 years ago, again celebrating our anniversary. The resort maintained its high level product through the years. We never go anywhere twice because we like trying new things, but this resort is truly worth the return visit. >From Charlie greeting us at the lobby door to Lisa Jones, the >concierge, handling every plan perfectly for us, to the great dive shop and spa, the experience was first class. We were in Villa Suite #308. Very spacious, clean, and everything looked in great shape. I don’t understand why others commented on “tattered and worn” furnishings. If it was so bad, they should have requested a room change. Our maid, Antonia, welcomed us warmly. We gave her a big tip on the first day and received incredible service. For more privacy and a better view, I’d recommend Villa Suite #304. Or any room in the 200’s so you can walk to the main resort areas instead of always waiting for a shuttle van. Higher up was more secluded (700-900’s) and definitely too far & steep to walk. But the vans were always coming around. Never waited more than 2 minutes for a friendly free ride. And we always tipped a buck to the driver. Don’t forget to bring lots of singles. I walked through the Sugarmill rooms. Also very nice, large, conveniently located by the beach & Plantation house, but no private plunge pool. Might choose this if traveling with kids or don’t want to pay more for a villa or villa suite. The spa is still wonderful. This time we did a couples’ massage outside overlooking the Pitons. What a view! This is a “must do” for all. Tennis courts beautiful. The three-hole golf course…well, that’s there just to look at. Don’t bring your clubs. It’s more of a novelty to say you golfed in the Pitons. Pool is very nice. Not a huge lake-style like in Punta Cana or Mexico’s new resorts, but just right for the setting. But who sits at the pool when you can be at possibly the most beautiful beach in the world. We called it “Cleavage Beach” because of the set up between the two Pitons. It’s so unique, private, with indescribable views up the 2600 foot shear Piton walls. Photos don’t do it justice. Yes, food is expensive. You are more or less held captive at this resort. Everything has an 8% tax and 10% service charge added. Your choice to add more tip. Per person, expect to pay $16 for continental breakfast, $19 for hot breakfast, adding $2 more for unlimited champagne. Lunch at the Bayside has a nice variety and sometimes a buffet that runs $23. Sandwiches are around $14. BUT here’s a big secret…order lunch on the beach or at the pool off the beach menu from the beach servers, and you’ll only pay $8.50 for a cheeseburger, sandwiches, or fish & chips. All include lots of French fries. Why cheaper on the beach? I have no idea. We enjoyed the incredible views from our hut while being served lunch. The water is fine to drink, so save your money and don’t order expensive bottled water. We asked for ice water with each meal, no problem. Dinner will be about $50 per person no matter how you do it. The Pier is a few dollars cheaper. We ate there twice and it was fine. Plantation Room was very good. Excellent presentations of the courses. Pre fixe menu available for about $35, includes appetizer, entrée with veggies, and dessert. Nice breads served, too. If you choose to go off property, plan to spend $30 for a round trip ride to Soufriere restaurants or to Ladera. $20 r/t if going to Mango Tree at Stonefield (excellent food and about $30 pp) or Martha’s Table (best food, lowest prices, not much atmosphere). We enjoyed our dinner at Hummingbird very much, too. Ladera still ridiculously priced and overrated. And if it’s cloudy, there’s no sunset view to see anyway. So the savings of eating off-property are used up on taxi rides. But go anyway just to get some local culture. The Bang on Wednesday nights has lost its charm. They now charge $40 plus drinks. The show was really disappointing. We called it “Cirque du Bang”. The band members were still the same guys with a few new additions. Mr. Old Shaker Guy and Mr. Old Banjo Guy were still there. Turns out Mr. Old Sax Guy passed away a few months ago. And the Lord Glenconner still works the crowd with his little dog. Scuba diving was a highlight of this trip. Many say there is not much underwater in St. Lucia. They are very misinformed. 82-degree water with some current. Most of the costal area around the Pitons is now protected from fishing. Now the reef and fish life is abundant. The corals and sponges are unbelievable. Even the wreck of the Lesleen M is a great dive. Best was at Grand Caille site when we saw a school of 30 Manta Rays swim around us. That was a once-in-a-lifetime event. We caught it on underwater video, too! Complimentary Hobie cats and kayaks were lots of fun to take out daily. The wind was quirky but the water was always flat. Snorkeling along the Piton in the Jalousie’s marine reserve was better than most places in the Caribbean and Hawaii. Everything was flourishing. Saw sea horses, eels, puffer fish, crabs, lobster, schools of the typical sergeant majors and yellowtail, trumpet fish, wahoo, squid, scorpion fish. The list goes on and on. Corals & sponges were in great shape from what we remembered 5 years ago. Another highlight were the resident school of sardines. They move like a mirror. I’d free dive down, they’d open up a window for me to pass through, then quickly regroup. I spent hours playing with them. Ladera guests used our beach. They had to rely on shuttle schedules and could not use our huts. They were relegated to sit under the trees near the entrance. And I like my air conditioning, four solid walls, and no bugs too much to stay there. In fact, we spoke to a couple who went to the bathroom together at night because she was scared of the creepy crawlies. And the tree frogs sure were loud at night. But Oprah stayed there so they fell for it, paying almost double the price of the more luxurious Jalousie Hilton. And another couple had reservations at the Stonefield Estate, saw the accommodations, and actually WALKED to the Hilton to get the last available room there. We saw another couple on the plane home who stayed at Anse Chastanet. Her legs were covered top to bottom with bug bites. Most folks don’t understand how rustic those resorts are. Just think of the Travelocity commercial with the bugs on the net around the bed, and you’ve got it. Not for us, thank you. We’re on vacation. The biggest news is that Hilton turns over the resort to Sunswept on June 1. They own other resorts up north on the island (BodyHoliday, LeSport). They plan on pumping in some money to really put this resort in top shape. The nearby Piton Waterfalls will house their new spa, with treatment rooms stair stepped up the wall. Should be really neat! All the management and staff will stay, contrary to another posting on TripAdvisor. They are all very excited about the changes. Make your reservations now for the 2007 World Cricket Championships. St. Lucia will be the host. Guess I gotta learn the rules to enjoy this one. Lots of improvements are planned, including a new mega resort and golf course no the south west coast closer to Hewanorra Airport (UVF). By the way, the new road from Hewanorra to Soufriere/Jalousie is wonderful. Only takes 45 scenic minutes on a curvy but very smooth new road. Sure beats our last time with 90 minutes of pot holes, hairpin turns, drive through the river where there was no bridge, etc. But the goats & cows still have reign. It took almost that long and triple the cost if you took the helicopter, because you had to wait for the helicopter, then arrive at the hotel in 7 minutes without your luggage. But the helicopter ride sure seemed fun. Maybe next time.
Bottom line, this place should be #1 on the island, and possibly in the Top 5 in the Caribbean. Might see you there in five years.