—A journey to the Caribbean’s most enchanting resort.
If you’re driving from Vieux Fort, the famed resort is just an hour up the coast. Electing to stop a few miles out in the small, seaside town of Soufrière, you’ll have the added pleasures of Creole-style fried fish, unbridled views of the twin Piton Mountains and a visit to the world’s only drive-in volcano at Sulphur Springs (mud baths encouraged). Flying in by chopper to Jade Mountain’s private helipad is a bit more involved, though you’ll quickly realize why St. Lucia is known as “Helen of the West Indies,” as in Helen of Troy. As you soar above coves and forests, which were for centuries, places of refuge for indigenous tribes and Western settlers alike, it doesn’t seem too farfetched that France and Great Britain fought over the island’s spellbinding beauty as much as its strategic position to the Americas.
Whether by road or sky, you will no doubt get a sense of St. Lucia’s character. Passing the brightly-colored colonial storefronts beside the bay, you may feel as though you’ve slipped into another century—an explorer perhaps, seeking asylum in the warm embrace of some verdant shore. But beyond the lush corridor of road from Soufrière, when the car’s engine turns off (or the chopper blades conclude their rotations), that’s when you truly begin to feel the island’s magic. You hear nothing but the stillness in the air and the distant songs of birds calling from across the canopy—you’ve arrived at the foot of Jade Mountain.
The drive through the tightly-quartered road can be unassuming, but upon arrival you’re immediately greeted by the resort’s majordomos—all of whom have been trained by the British Guild of Butlers. Here, you will also meet your personal majordomo, your newly acquired “firefly” device (contact for service) and The Bentley, Jade Mountain’s signature cocktail. In a matter of moments, it feels as though you’ve left the real world behind you, a feeling that can only be trumped when, seconds later, you’re escorted to your accommodations—or what the staff refers to as “your sanctuary.”
Once you’ve crossed over your own personal bridgeway—labyrinthed above and below a host of others—and pushed open the heavy, solid wood door, the staff’s words become abundantly clear. Your room is in fact just that, a sanctuary. Your eye is instantly drawn to the absence of the fourth wall, preceded by a private infinity pool harmonized with the sparkling blue of the Caribbean. Below you, a plush carpet of tree tops and in the not-so-far distance, the awe-inspiring majesty of St. Lucia’s twin Piton Mountains—Gros and Petit Piton—each standing some 2,500 feet in height. Without even a second to think, you’re instantly mesmerized by the planetary splendor—a metaphorical daydream the likes of which only Derek Walcott could delineate.
Making Jade Mountain
Jade Mountain, in all its grandeur, is set atop world-renowned hotel Anse Chastanet, essentially making it a resort within a resort. The property, arguably one of the most romantic spots in the West Indies, sits on a 600-acre stretch of lush tropical paradise, with two soft-sand beaches and approximately 8,000 feet of stunning coast at its disposal. As you walk the stunning property, you’ll come to understand exactly what first hooked its now owner, Russian-Canadian architect Nick Troubetzkoy and his wife, Karolin, back in the early 1970s. At the time, Troubetzkoy came to the island to design a vacation villa, but he quickly became enamored by St. Lucia’s landscape, lifestyle and people—so much so that he and his wife packed up and moved to the island for good.
Despite having no knowledge on becoming a hotelier, Troubetzkoy purchased Anse Chastanet and reimagined the quaint, seaside retreat, turning it into something that defied the traditional five-star hotel design. With unique room layouts, environmentally-conscious practices and an incredible location, it didn’t take more than a few years before Anse Chastanet became a hit with travelers.
After decades of success, Troubetzkoy opened Jade Mountain in late 2006. However, the hotel’s vision was something that he had pictured since his early years on the island. For some time even before coming to St. Lucia, the architect had been a collector of carved jade mountains, many of which resembled the island’s topography, specifically the nearby Pitons. Inside the sanctuaries, you’ll notice how the infinity pools blend effortlessly with the Caribbean Sea, serving as a spiritual link to the heart of the island—or if you might imagine, a cascading bridge of sea to a jade mountain of your very own.
“When it came to naming the new property, Jade Mountain seemed to be the most appropriate choice because it appeared to me that Nick was finally carving his own jade mountain, made from stone and perhaps just a little bigger than some of the jade mountains in his collection,” Karolin Troubetzkoy says of the hotel’s inception.
What To Do
While it might seem nearly impossible to leave the comfort of your divine sanctuary (and at times, it is), Jade Mountain is at the doorstep of some world-class experiences, including everything from water sports to mountain hikes and rainforest ziplines. Due to its location on the Southwest coast, nearly everything you can imagine is within reach, and your concierge is happy to arrange excursions and tours at your convenience.
First, no trip to Jade Mountain is complete without exploring Anse Chastanet’s abundant coral reef. This can be done via a snorkeling or scuba diving trip, and the latter is strongly encouraged. In many ways, Anse Chastanet helped make scuba diving popular on the island in the the early ‘80s—before it was cool. Scuba St. Lucia, the resort’s official go-to dive operation, is at the south end of Anse Chastanet Beach. Divemasters are extremely friendly and helpful, and the staff is set up nicely for both shore and boat dives.
The bay itself is located smack in the middle of a world-renowned marine reserve, and dives at Anse Chastanet Reef start just 50 feet out from the shoreline. And the reef, you’ll quickly notice, is one of the healthiest in the Caribbean, with over 150 species of fish roaming its limits. Out from the shore, among coral canyons, you’ll swim with sea turtles, peacock flounders and octopus. Once you’re ready for a boat dive—which includes depths beneath the shadows of the Pitons, Superman’s flight, Coral Gardens and the wreck of Lesleen M, a 165-foot freighter that sunk in 1986—you’ll spot moray eels, seahorses and parrot fish. No matter the dive, you’re surrounded by St. Lucia’s iconic sights at every turn.
Beyond scuba, there’s a million and one ways for you to reconnect with your wild side: exploring the Diamond Falls Botanical Garden, jungle biking on Anse Chastanet’s 8-mile trail, kayaking the Soufrière Bay, bird watching at Anse Mamin (a 300-year-old former plantation that is now a rainforest) and a sunset cruise aboard the resort’s 42-foot sailing yacht “Searenity” (an ideal way to end the day). Apart from excursions and such, Jade Mountain is also a big advocate of wellness, with a full-service spa and yoga classes.
Similar to Anse Chastanet, all of the sanctuaries at Jade Mountain were uniquely designed. Unlike the original hotel, they sit above the canopy and 160 feet above the sea. Rooms are broken down into categories based on size, and despite a few similarities—15-foot ceilings and a striking view of the twin Pitons—they are all inherently different. The smallest of these categories, the Star sanctuaries, begin at 1,400 to 1,800 square feet with infinity pools averaging approximately 450 square feet. Upwards, there are Moon sanctuaries, averaging between 1,600 and 1,950 square feet with a 650-square-foot pool; and Sun sanctuaries which feature an expansive 270-degree panoramic view with over 2,000 square feet of space and infinity pools up to 900 square feet. Jade Mountain’s five additional Sky Suites are raised jacuzzi sanctuaries which are located on the resort’s lower hillside and while they don’t include an infinity pool, they offer a large living space with a commanding view of the Pitons.
“The traditional daunting hotel corridor has been transformed,” Troubetzkoy says of his design philosophy. “The adventurous journey to your sanctuary is via a long suspended sky bridge to infinity which is yours and yours alone. Your entry door is a massive rough hewn slab of exotic tropical hardwood. Your first step inside creates an instant spiritual uplift. The infinity pool in front of you is a luminescent Persian carpet floating you out into space, to hover over the Caribbean Sea, hypnotized by St. Lucia’s magnificent Piton Mountains.”
Everything including Jade Mountain’s heavenly columns and dramatic stonework was handcrafted by woodworkers and masons from the local Soufrière community. The sanctuaries were outfitted with tropical hardwood from Guyana and finished with crushed, blush-toned coral plaster from Barbados. Furniture in each sanctuary was sourced from a variety of different manufacturers both in St. Lucia and abroad, ensuring no two rooms are alike. As for the recycled glass tile infinity pools, works of art in their own right, they were a collaboration with David Knox, a tile manufacturer from Lightstreams. Much like Troubetzkoy, Knox was very unconventional in his design, especially when it came to Jade’s 24 pools, each one featuring a different shade of ruby, amber, green or blue.
Despite its charming design features, Jade Mountain is predicated on its close relationship with nature. As you become acquainted with your sanctuary, you’ll realize that it isn’t outfitted with all the gadgets and in-room tech you might be accustomed to in five-star resorts. Encouraging you to truly unplug, Jade Mountain gives a sense of what a real Caribbean getaway might have been like before the days of iPads and TVs (don’t worry, there’s WiFi at the front desk).
Jade Mountain is a property that is ideal for travelers who truly want to get away and reconnect with the natural world—whether through land, sea, food or meditation. It’s a destination, much like the country in which it’s built, that’s meant to fill the senses and feed the soul. Out there, at the edge of your personal sanctuary, as the sun cascades off the side of the Petit Piton and perfumes of the Caribbean bury their hooks into your heart, you’ll begin to rethink your reality. There’s a reason why Jade Mountain has been named at the top of so many travel and honeymoon lists, and it’s a secret that only those who venture to its blissful summits can tell.
Dining At Jade Mountain
No five-star experience is worth its weight without top-notch dining—and Jade doesn’t disappoint. Beyond the opportunity to eat every meal right in the comfort of your sanctuary and indulge in the local tastes in Soufrière, the resort’s culinary program matches the standards of its views.
Atop the resort—with a view that’s the envy of every sanctuary on the property—is the Jade Mountain Club (open for breakfast, lunch and dinner). Artfully designed with an infinity pool and kaleidoscope-like tiles, this is where the resort features its aptly named Jade Cuisine. The product of James Beard Award-winning chef Allen Susser, Jade Cuisine is an audacious array of eclectic food that harkens back to St. Lucia’s tropical offerings while at the same time broadening its horizons. Dishes are bold, simple and fresh, concepts that echo what Jade Mountain is all about in both body and spirit.
Throughout your stay, culinary events change daily, ranging from Caribbean Beach Tandoori cooking classes with local chef, Nirmal Kar, to a tour of Jade’s own organic farm, Emerald Estate. The farm itself, located in the hills of Soufrière, produces foods like mangoes and vanilla beans used in the resort’s kitchens daily. In addition to producing their own fruits, vegetables and herbs, the estate also produces its own cocoa beans—which are processed by Jade’s chocolatier to make one-of-a-kind chocolate bars only available to guests of the resort (yes, you can make your own). Cocoa itself has a lengthy history on the island dating back to the 1700s, and Emerald, in essence, is one of many plantations throughout St. Lucia’s timeline.
In addition to the resort’s farm-to-table concept, private dinners can be arranged at both the Celestial Terrace (above the Jade Mountain Club) and on the beach at Anse Mamin for a “castaway” dinner. As a guest of Jade, Anse Chastanet’s facilities (dining and otherwise) are open to you as well.