St. Lucia, West Indies ~ Ladera Resort

March 2019

IMG_1372In our travels, we’ve been fortunate enough to visit a few different versions of paradise. St. Lucia and Ladera surely rise to the top of that list. This particular week in late-March was originally scheduled for a work trip to Brazil. When that was delayed, we decided to use the blocked-off time for a holiday instead. Knowing we wanted a warm-weather destination — by March, Minnesotans are well-and-truly done with winter — we took a look at options that are high on relaxation and low on hassle. The Caribbean rose to the top, with St. Lucia being our final choice for its geographic, historical and cultural interest. And — yes, we’ll admit — because we could get there via Delta. Some online research led us to Ladera, a smallish resort tucked in the hills 1,100 feet above the sea right between the island’s most famous (and truly breathtaking) mountains: the Gros and Petit Pitons.

A home with three walls

Ladera has many distinguishing features, but our favorite was the open-air design of our two-level suite. The entire southwest elevation — on both levels — is open, and the view looks out to the Pitons, the island forest and the Caribbean Sea below. Perhaps the most apt descriptor for our suite would be luxury treehouse. From nearly every vantage point — the private plunge pool, the chaise lounges on the deck, the shower, the built-in sofa or the giant four-poster bed draped in netting — the view was truly spectacular, quite honestly like nothing we’ve seen.

Showcasing island craftsmanship

At home, we tend to prefer minimalist — almost stark — design. Ladera is not that. But we found ourselves embracing the mosaic tiles; the hand-carved wood furnishings, decor and even structural beams; the bright paintings of island birds and flowers; the ceramic bowls that serve as sinks and fountains; and the baskets for everything from binoculars to beach towels. The entire resort has the mark of local craftspeople, and it feels distinctively St. Lucian. All of these items are also built to withstand the elements — the sun, wind and rain — and the seasoned nature of some of them makes Ladera feel like a place for the ages.

Scenery that changes by the minute

During our week-long stay, the view from our perch must have changed a thousand times. From shifts in the sun throughout the day to weather patterns that arrived and departed almost instantaneously, the sight was never the same twice. We found ourselves often distracted from important business — book reading, nap taking, pool plunging — by yet another “you have to see this” moment.


The Pitons were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004, and we can’t imagine a better view of them than from Ladera. Before arriving, we knew the resort boasted a prime location, but we had no idea how fortunate our choice was until we arrived. For people who typically can’t resist the urge to get out and explore, we found ourselves seduced by the mountains, sea and sky, content to simply gaze out and watch the scenery change. And when we weren’t looking at the mountains, we could take in the tropical flora and fauna. Even at night, the view was hard to resist. The starry sky, with constellations we rarely get to see, was perfect to enjoy from the pool with a glass of local rum.

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Farm-to-table cuisine, secret rooms and a disclaimer or two

Eating in. All-inclusive resorts have never held much appeal for us; we’d rather venture out to find interesting places for cocktails and food. Therefore, even when we saw that Ladera has inclusive options, we didn’t choose one. Next time, however, we might do differently. Dasheene, the resort’s restaurant, serves some of the best food on the island, and each night we were there, visitors from other places arrived for drinks and dinner. Much of the fare is local, and we could have happily been occupied with each day’s fresh catch.

Perfect for two, room for five. Two days into our stay, we discovered that a few doors we thought were housekeeping closets actually disguised another bedroom and full bath. Apparently Ladera isn’t just for couples. This extra en-suite was on top of another small, single bedroom that we joked would be the place one of us would sleep when we got tired of spending all day together. The locked rooms lent an air of mystery to the place, almost as if we were guests in an old mansion that was only partially used.

Good to know. Ladera is not a beach resort on flat ground; rather, it is built into the landscape of the St. Lucian hills. This — its best feature — does, however, make it a challenge from an accessibility standpoint. Most everywhere we went involved climbing and descending stairs. Being 1,100 feet above sea level also means you’re 1,100 feet closer to the sun. And the sun is strong in St. Lucia. Ladera provides lots of potions to ward off insects (those didn’t give us any trouble), but we did overdo it a bit on the sun the first day. For visitors who want at least a semblance of exercise, the mile-long Gross Piton trail, which is accessible at the far end of the property, fits the bill. It’s carefully groomed by Ladera garden staff, provides yet another amazing view of Petit Piton at its summit and — because the property was once a plantation — features dozens of varieties of fruit and spice trees. Finally, although Ladera is only about 2.5 miles from the coastal town of Soufriere, getting there by car is really the only option. We love to walk, but the road into town is curvy and narrow, and it’s frequented by tourists who aren’t used to driving on the left side of the road. Most ventures out of the resort require a taxi arranged in advance, which Ladera staff are happy to accommodate.

Stay details

  • Ladera Resort
  • Location: St. Lucia, 2.5 miles south of Soufriere
  • Our stay: 8 nights, March 23-30, 2019
  • Suite B, Heritage Suite

Where we ate, what we did

Diamond Falls

Back to HOTELLING home


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