It is just possible, in my opinion of course, that The Jalousie Plantation Hotel sits in one of the prettiest and most stunning locations in the world – nestled snugly between the Gros and Petit Piton mountains. When I booked I knew that it was an awesome place, but what you see as you drive down the steep windy road into the hotel grounds is more than I imagined it ever could be.
The Pitons love the camera and any picture you take of them is automatically picture postcard quality. The Petit Piton towers over the resort like a tropical monolith – but due to the mountains and their alignment, they never cast a shadow – the sun just rises and sets between them.
The main buildings of the plantation sit at the bottom of the valley just behind the bright white sandy beach, surrounded by masses of tropical greenery and flowers of every colour.
The white villas hug the hillside behind, hiding from view behind palm trees. The roads are very steep but a shuttle bus is never more than a phone call away. In 12 days we never waited more than five minutes for one to arrive. And if you feel like a workout, walking either up or down is a challenge worth taking.
Our Grand Luxury Villa, in the group known as “The 800s” boasted a simple white, black and coral decor and the four-poster king size bed was a heaven of crisp white Egyptian cotton. Both the lounge (which doubles as the children’s bedroom, and the bedroom have gigantic HD TVs hidden in cupboards (but the resort is so lovely we only turned one of them on once). The double walk in shower, huge double sink bathroom with its claw footed stand alone bath were luxurious and kitted out with smelly potions replenished daily.
Outside a massive terrace consisting of lounge chairs, a set of tables and chairs and a separate area with a huge reclining bed – looked out towards the sea and the Gros Piton beyond. There was also an infinity plunge pool that was really more like a small swimming pool. Sitting on this terrace at night, sipping a beer or a glass of wine whilst the tree frogs sang in the background is such a lovely way to relax.
Each room has its own butler, and on arrival you get a Firefly mobile phone so that you can contact them. I must admit that with all the staff so courteous and attentive – I wasn’t really left with much to ask of the butler. She did however turn the heating on in our plunge pool every afternoon to take the icy edge off it before we returned in the evening.
Hidden among the trees closer to the main buildings is a Spa, built as a series of tree houses of different heights connected by wooden walkways and steps. We had a hot stone massage in one of these havens of tranquility. The decor and the facilities are outstanding – more luxurious than many Spas that say they are more exclusive.
Surrounding the Spa is a rainforest trail, again comprising wooden walkways and steps. It takes about 15 minutes to go round the circuit rewarding you with excellent views of the mountains and the sea and the rainforest itself. I think that the Hotel guests might be under the impression that the rainforest trail is much more grueling (perhaps the term trail conjures up images of muddy paths and clouds of insects – which is of course far from the truth) because in negotiating the pathways everyday during our stay we never once met anyone else.
Down on the beach you need to be early to grab a thatched straw umbrella and some comfortable loungers to go with it. Once ensconced in that welcome shade, the bar staff supply you with a red flag which you simply stick in the ground when you want a drink. Within seconds of planting the signal a waiter arrives to take your order. By the end of the holiday they often anticipated what we wanted and just brought it along without asking.
The Bayside Restaurant is open air, sits just back from the shore and serves breakfast lunch and dinner of exceptional quality. It makes such a change to visit a restaurant where there are no buffet meals at all. Not even breakfast. At every meal you choose from the menu and they servce you individually. I cannot think of anywhere I have stayed in the world that does not resort to buffet style some of the time.This to me is a huge bonus.
Breakfast and its choice of smoothies was outstanding every day. Lunch was lighter, with crisp oven made pizzas, pastas and burgers. Dinner was fine dining but with minimal fuss and fluff. The mash potato is the lightest, cremiest and tastiest I have ever eaten. On one occasion I asked them to bring me another bowl full because it was simply iresistable.The General Manager of the hotel often lunches here from a table at the back. He then mingles with the guests in an unobtrusive way asking for feedback or just asking you how you are enjoying your stay.
After dinner here, the Bayside bar became a regular stop off for a nightcap served by the very friendly Lawrencia, who like just about every member of staff learned our names and preferences almost immediately. She mixes an awesome Mojito.
In the main house is the grander restaurant – the Great Room. It has a very majestic feel to it. The food again is fine dining but the focus seems quite rightly on taste and not overly fussy presentation. If you order a bottle of red wine, ask them to decant it into one of many fancy, curly and long differently shaped decanters. Then marvel how the wine waiter manages to pour your glasses without spilling one tiny drop. Try the Banana Souffle and Lime Sorbet at your peril. It melts divinely on the tongue and you will be unable to resist ordering another one on your next visit.
The Cane Bar is for adults only, which we sampled whilst the wee one was at the children’s club. Cool, like a posh London nightclub the various rum cocktails have to be savoured. The Zombie cocktail was particularly impressive. This is a hidden gem within the resort and I’m not sure that many guest even knew it existed.
Back at the beach many water sports are free, such as Hoby Cat sailing, kayaks and pedal boats. . One day I tried something called a “Megawing”. This is effectively a huge rubber balloon dragged behind a speedboat with you hanging on for dear life. The lady who was on before us said it was scarier than any amusement park ride she had ever been on. I agreed with her after bouncing around on the sea for 10 minutes, but it was also one of the most exhilarating things I have ever done as well.
The children’s club put on a variety of events, trips and activities and the coordinators Canice and Giseld developed a great rapport with our son. A couple of outstanding people.
Canice also teaches all the classes up on the sundeck overlooking the Pitons and the bay. He is inspirational in his teaching of early morning and sunset Yoga and seems able to turn his hand to anything. He has boundless energy. The gym was well stocked and the tennis professional was always on hand.
So any niggles? Not really. There was a bit of a misunderstanding between the travel agent and the hotel about what the “all-inclusive package” actually included. But the duty manager was more than willing to come up with an acceptable compromise on the items that we felt should be included but weren’t.
Overall then, this one of the best hotels I have ever stayed in. I believe that it is more luxurious and offers better service than some of the more recognised Caribbean premier resorts such as Sandy Lane, Spice Island Beach Resort and Curtain Bluff – but it lacks the pretension and the soulless service that often typifies those places.
I truly hope that as they expand the accommodations and install even more impressive amenities, that they do not become tempted to emulate those other pretentious resorts because this is somewhere I would gladly return to on many occasions.