Looking for a budget-friendly, charming place to relax in sunny St. Lucia? Check out Bay Gardens Hotel or Bay Gardens Inn. Both locally-owned and operated properties are part of the same group as the ultra-fab Bay Gardens Resort, but a little farther from the beach and a little easier on the wallet. A great place for solo travelers, honeymooners, a friends' retreat or a family vacation, Bay Gardens Hotel offers a comfortable accommodations and two lovely pools in a lush, green garden setting.
I had the chance to tour Bay Gardens Hotel on my trip to St. Lucia and have a sumptuous lunch at the on-site Spices Restaurant. Walking into the property, I immediately loved the fun, tropical atmosphere of the chartreuse-colored buildings named after tropical trees like "Pawpaw" and "Sugar Apple". The courtyard surrounding the pool was bursting with tropical flowers in red and yellow hues. It's a bright and cheerful place, to say the least.
It was hot and humid when we arrived, and we were all sweating within minutes. Even the calm and collected Miss Waltrude Patrick, the Hotel & Inn's General Manager, was starting to feel the heat after walking around the grounds. My traveling companions, Jordanne, Donna, and Julia, couldn't resist dipping their toes into the cool and inviting pool at Bay Gardens Hotel. Miss Patrick later treated us to a Frozen Lime Squash, a non-alcoholic drink made from freshly-squeezed limes and frothy crushed ice. I am not sure what else was in there, but it was a wonderful treat on a hot day. I am normally not a fan of the sourness of lime, but this was as refreshing as a dip in the cool pool.
Lunch at Spices was equally delightful, with fresh, locally-grown salads, fruits, and vegetables and a variety of entrees to please any palate. I had a dorado fish prepared Wellington style, a perfectly cooked-through filet of hearty dorado wrapped in a light puffy pastry shell. The pastry sat atop fresh vegetables on a flavorful, light curry sauce. My travel companions dined on Pumpkin Soup, a local specialty, and a Caribbean curried chicken that they declared to be "delicious."
We were joined by the owner, Mrs. Joyce Destang, and other members of the management team. The hotel is run mostly by women, and their commitment to customer service, quality, and hospitality is evident in everything they do. I found that St. Lucians are reserved when you first meet them, but are warm and charming and go from strangers to friends quickly. We started lunch with formal introductions and handshakes; by the end, there were hugs all around.
All the Bay Gardens properties are equipped for destination weddings, including a white-latticed gazebo for wedding ceremonies, and grassy areas that can be set-up for seating. St. Lucia is such a romantic island, this would be a great spot to start a life with the person you love, surrounded by family and friends.
In addition, the Hotel also has conference facilities that hold groups up to about 150, with on-site catering and rooms available throughout the three properties. I am trying to convince my husband that one of the technology conferences he chairs really, really needs to go there, mainly so I can sit by the pool while he works. I'm not sure that tactic is working.
Miss Patrick took us on a tour of both properties, showing us rooms from the very basic to apartment suites large enough for a family of four. The hotel recently expanded some of the smaller rooms into "Superior" rooms with a bit more floor space. Each room comes equipped with a small refrigerator and kettle for coffee or tea. The rooms are considerably smaller at the hotel than at the Resort, but would be great for travelers who just want a touch-down space between island adventures. In the off-season, some of the rooms can be had for a rock-bottom price of about $79/night, cheaper than most highway motels in the US. Prices vary by season, so be sure to check the Bay Gardens Hotel website for the latest deals.
During our tour, we encountered a group of friendly young French travelers in the courtyard, who seemed to be part of a tour group enjoying the amenities that the property had to offer. They looked like they had just arrived from the beach, and were lounging poolside before going back to their rooms. Hotel and Inn guests have privileges to access the beach through the Bay Gardens Resort. The hotel offers frequent shuttles to and from the beach, or you could walk about fifteen minutes through town to get there. The streets were clean and well cared-for, and seemed perfectly safe.
Bay Gardens Inn
Even though it's right next door, the Bay Gardens Inn has a completely different vibe to it and seems to be worlds away. It's quiet and peaceful, with exterior lavendar walls that are currently being transformed to a fresh Caribbean blue with white trim. Flowers are also in abundance here, but it seems like more of a personal or romantic retreat than a place to party after a long day of adventure sports. I could imagine going there to write a book, get some rest, or just hang out and do absolutely nothing (something of a dream vacation for me; my husband wants no part of that, though). Miss Patrick told us that they have guests who come back to the Inn year after year, who have told her they wouldn't dream of going anywhere else. "People say it's a place to restore your soul," she said.
Everyone has a different view of what a perfect vacation looks like: non-stop action and fun or peace and solitude; making new friends or being left alone; romance or partying like a rockstar. Whatever your ideal vacation entails, Bay Gardens Resorts has something to offer.
Now that I've convinced you that St. Lucia is the place to be, what are you waiting for? JetBlue is now offering daily non-stop service from New York JFK to Hewanorra, St. Lucia (UVF).
Disclosure: Airfare via Jetblue and accommodations for my trip to St. Lucia were paid for by Bay Gardens. I did not receive any additional financial incentive or compensation for writing this post. All opinions expressed are my own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Bay Gardens Resorts.
Photos: Copyright Glennia Campbell/The Silent I. All Rights Reserved.