St.Lucia offers mountains of Caribbean appeal

Screen Shot 2013-06-06 at 2.34.59 PMTHE CHARLOTTE OBSERVER
What’s it like to live in a far-off place most of us see only on a vacation? Foreign Correspondence is an interview with someone who lives in a spot you may want to visit.

Karolin and Nick Troubetzkoy own two resorts on St. Lucia: Anse Chastanet (www.ansechastanet.com) and Jade Mountain (www.jademountain.com). Karolin is originally from Germany. She is in her early 50s and has lived on the Caribbean island since the 1980s.

Q: What is St. Lucia like in spring?

A: Spring is great, but the Caribbean in general can be enjoyed year-round: It’s a big misconception that it can only be enjoyed in winter or spring. The so-called dry season is November through May. The wet season – June through November – doesn’t mean it rains all the time. Naturally, it’s a little more humid in summer. You may have some rainfall then, but it’s short and refreshing. It makes for a lush, dark green environment.

Q: How is it that you own two places on the island?

A: We’re a dying breed – a last bastion of private-owned, unaffiliated resorts in the Caribbean that, on top of that, do really well. We’re troupers who came here with our own ideas. In 1974, my husband, Nick, bought Anse Chastanet. He’s an architect by profession and wanted a unique property where every room tells a different story. He made a point of buying as much land surrounding the property as he could. Even then he saw the danger that the island may be overdeveloped. He wanted to preserve the tranquility.

In early 2000 he wanted to add to the property. That project took on a life of its own on the property, so we decided to present Jade Mountain as a separate resort. with its own restaurant, concierge service, its own staff and so on. I describe it as a resort within a resort – sort of a glorious club-level exclusive oasis. You can’t go to Jade Mountain unless you stay there, but you have full access to Anse’s restaurants and the two beaches below. We also have 12 miles of hiking and biking trails.

The resorts are in a very scenic part of St. Lucia. Our property holds an entire old colonial plantation, with ruins from the 19th century. You don’t have to leave the property to get the essence of St. Lucia.

Q: What’s distinct about St. Lucia?

A: It’s called “The Bali Ha’i of the Caribbean” because of its magnificent landscape. The Piton Mountains – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – make St. Lucia a must-see island.

The culture is also unique: It changed hands between the French and British 14 times. Everybody speaks English, but because it was French for a period of time, the inhabitants also speak Creole and have a French flair. Most guests would say the French-ness of St. Lucia is legendary.

Q: Does this extend to the food?

A: The traditional food – Creole – is unique. The flavors are much what you’d find in Martinique and other French islands.

After slavery was abolished, there was an East Indian element coming in; we have a bit of that in the traditional cooking. What’s exciting in the Caribbean now is that we have an entire generation of Caribbean-born chefs in the hotels; they do their own interpretations of Caribbean cuisine with artistic flair.

We make our own chocolate at our properties: We grown and roast have our own beans.

Q: Is the island urban or rural?

A: St. Lucia is about 264 square miles with about 170,000 inhabitants. The majority live in the commercialized area – the northern part of the island, around and above the capita, Castries. Otherwise, it has more of a rural feel because of the mountainous terrain.

There’s one road around the island and a few inland. The core of the island is lush and green. It always looks very unspoiled. On flat parts of the island, you can build everywhere. Here in the mountains, it will always appear unspoiled.

Q: From higher elevations, can you see the next island?

A: From our resorts, you can see St. Vincent looming on the south; on a clear day, driving north from us, you can see Martinique.

Q: What kind of wildlife is there?

Deep-sea fishing is as wild as it gets. There’s an incredible coral reef that starts right off our beach. So there’s excellent scuba and snorkeling.

There’s great bird watching on our plantation, and we offer trips all over the island.

Know someone who lives in an interesting in St.Lucia who would like to give us the inside line on visiting there? Email, in English, [email protected]

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