American Express

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Checking In: Sandals Regency La Toc, St. Lucia

I have a confession: I’ve never been a fan of all-inclusive resorts. The repetitive meals, the gated community atmosphere, and the obnoxious tourists on their fifth drink by 11am – none of it has rocked my world. I’d rather be backpacking someplace, meeting new people and sampling unique dishes.
 

That is, until my recent visit to Sandals Regency La Toc in St Lucia. A four day visit changed my perspective on the resort experience. An all-inclusive vacation doesn’t have to be boring or mundane. At Sandals, I was thrilled and delighted by the sights, sounds, and tastes at the resort, but also indulged in the ultimate relaxation.  Sandals Regency La Toc encouraged guests to embrace adventure and unique experiences through the amenities and Discovery Dining program. A week at Sandals can be as adventurous as backpacking in Europe (minus the dirty hostels, thank goodness).

And you know what? I loved every minute of my stay. Here’s a snapshot of my visit to the ultra luxurious Sandals Regency La Toc in the gorgeous St. Lucia:
 


CHECKING IN:
Stepping off the bus, I arrive at the resort looking as tattered as Cosette from Les Miserables. Thankfully, I’m greeted with a flute of Beringer sparkling wine and a cold towel by friendly Sandals staff. At check in, our bags are whisked away, and we’re ushered to a rest area to cool down. I start to feel revived after the long journey.

“It’s your job to relax while we prepare your room,” says the hotel manager, Paul. “We’ll take care of your bags.”


A sea breeze blows across the open lobby, fanning me from the island heat. Outside, I see tanned bodies lounging by the pool and turquoise water in the distance. I sip my wine and think, This is the life.

THE ROOM:  
My luxurious room is a soothing sight for a tired soul. The room is equipped with a king-sized bed, fully stocked mini bar, sitting area, soaker bath tub, and an incredible sea view. I open the French balcony and inhale the salty ocean breeze. As daylight fades over the hills, a crimson hue streaks across the sky, turning the fluffy clouds to cotton candy pink.


The beds in Cuba were rock hard, but not at Sandals Regency La Toc. I nestle into the plush pillows and soft mattress, ready for a deep slumber.

THE BEACH:
The hotel has a stunning strip of powder white sand and turquoise sea right at its door. I bathe in the warm waters and frolic on the sandbar. The water is so translucent that I can see little fish swimming around my feet. After a morning swim, I settle into a lounge chaise under a tree – with a mimosa and a book, of course.

A big plus is that crowds seem non-existent. I never had to compete for a spot on the beach. And just the rustle of leaves and waves, it almost feels like a deserted island – albeit with comfy chairs and cocktails.


THE AMENITIES: 
Exploring the grounds, I realize that Sandals is different from other resorts. Intimacy and romance are embedded in every nook and cranny: open fire pits, a candlelit gazebo, and private dining on the beach. It feels like staying in the midst of a nature reserve with the backdrop of lush hills and colourful gardens.

For a break from sun and sand, book a luxurious treatment at the Red Lane Spa or take a dip in one of the four pools. But there’s plenty to do besides lounge. The resort has tennis courts, windsurfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, and a nine-hole golf course – all complimentary activities for Sandals guests.

THE FOOD:
Foodies should prepare to embark on a gastronomical expedition. Sandals Regency La Toc has nine gourmet restaurants, each with unique international flavours like French, Italian, Caribbean, Japanese, and English pub fare. With the Discovery Dining experience, guests can savour speciality dishes from around the world.

Every morning, I feast on a breakfast buffet of fresh fruit, breads, cheeses, cold cuts, bacon, eggs, and hash browns at the Pavilion Restaurant – an open aired dome overlooking the infinity pool. The omelette station is worth the wait – guests line up with their plates, eager to custom order eggs prepared with local veggies, meats, herbs, and spices. If buffets aren’t your thing, a hearty a la carte breakfast is served at Armando’s Restaurant (below), a majestic restaurant towering over the cliffs.
When I get hungry between meals, I walk to Bella Napoli Pizzeria (below) – an outdoor cafĂ© with a steady stock of thin-crust pizza. The pies are piping hot, freshly pulled from the wood-fired oven by the Chef. I indulge in a second helping of Margherita pizza, licking tomato, mozzarella, and basil from my fingers. It’s sloppy, gooey, and delicious.
Sandals Regency La Toc recently unveiled two new restaurants – the Soy Sushi Bar and Kimonos Oriental Cuisine (below). Tucked into the cliffs, the two-storey building embodies Japanese art and architecture, and offers killer views of the spot-lit ocean below. If you like knife tricks, fresh seafood, and Teppanyaki dishes prepared at the table, make a reservation for Kimonos.
No one goes hungry at Sandals Regency La Toc. But if the nine restaurants just aren’t enough, the “Stay At One, Play At Three” program will surely satiate your appetite. A complimentary shuttle bus transports guests to Sandals Grande St. Lucian and Sandals Halcyon Beach to dine at their specialty restaurants.  This means that you can choose between 23 restaurants at three Sandals resorts in St. Lucia.

THE VERDICT: 
The principle of something for everyone prevails at Sandals Regency La Toc. It’s difficult to be bored, hungry, thirsty, or unhappy. How could you with the gorgeous scenery, endless activities, and smorgasbord of gourmet food? The Discovery Dining experience is a unique experience, and a key reason to choose a Sandals resort for your next vacation. The exchange program between Sandals resorts is also ideal for those who want to explore. Obviously, this place is perfect for weddings, honeymoons, and any romantic-themed escape!

I savoured every minute of my short visit to the Sandals Regency La Toc – so much that I booked another escape to Sandals Barbados.


THE DETAILS:
Sandals Regency La Toc 

Sandals offers couples-only luxury resorts in St. Lucia, Jamaica, Antigua, the Bahamas, Grenada and Barbados, featuring gourmet candlelit dining for two, gorgeous tropical settings and some of the world’s most exquisite beaches.
 
Book your vacation package at www.sandals.com or through your travel agent.

-- Lisa Jackson is a freelance writer and blogs at Eat Drink Travel Magazine. Find her online @eatdrinktravels. 

 (Photo credits: Lisa Jackson & Sandals Resorts) 




1 comment:

  1. I agree, I am not a big fan of all-inclusives. Usually after the excursions are done and the first day of lounging around the resort I am bored and ready to go home. I have, however, heard great things about Sandals resorts and this post has definitely peaked my interest. Maybe a future trip is on the horizon.

    ReplyDelete