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"Welcome to Saint Lucia!" said the friendly young driver of our transfer van at Hewanorra International Airport. After packing our bags into the minivan and hopping into his seat, he smoothly announced, "The trip from here to Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa will be approximately one hour!"
It was a joke. The drive from the airport to the deluxe all-inclusive resort takes only five to seven minutes depending on local traffic.
That means after clearing customs and immigration and presenting a negative COVID-19 test result upon entry (as required under Saint Lucia protocols), visitors can enter full relaxation mode on the resort's mile-long beachfront shortly after arrival.
Coconut Bay's airport proximity is just one under-publicized aspect of this 450-guest all-inclusive resort, possibly the Caribbean's most underrated. Coconut Bay accommodates families, couples, wedding parties and groups of friends, yet the expansive 85-acre property never feels crowded even at or near full capacity.
Perhaps it's inaccurate to call Coconut Bay underrated. The resort is in fact a multiple award winner, with recognition in the form of a 2021 Travelers' Choice Award from TripAdvisor.
Yet it somehow seems Coconut Bay is not consistently mentioned among the Caribbean's premier properties. One reason may be the strong competition even within Saint Lucia, where leading all-inclusive brands operate alongside celebrated boutique hotels.
In any case, Coconut Bay's high guest repeat factor and the growing prominence of the Serenity at Coconut Bay wing among upscale travelers confirm Coconut Bay's esteemed status among Caribbean travelers. The following is a resort review:
Coconut Bay's adults-only Harmony wing is a tranquil enclave with palm tree-shaded pools and a thatched-roof outdoor bar, plus sun decks for two with large lounge chairs facing the languid blue waters.
Concierge junior ocean view suites feature Atlantic Ocean and Maria Islands views. Other categories include junior suite ocean view, concierge premium ocean view, premium ocean view, deluxe ocean view and deluxe garden view accommodations.
All rooms are equipped with stocked bars with personalized beverage choices and mini-refrigerators stocked with water, soft drinks and local beer. Concierge services include private VIP check-in and resort orientation; off-property dining, tour and spa appointment booking.
Coconut Bay's Splash section accommodates families with colorful oceanfront-facing rooms overlooking CocoLand, the resort's water park. Rooms here feature walk-in showers, sitting areas and configurations for families including king and twin queen beds, and two-bedroom connecting rooms.
Hotel-within-a hotel Serenity at Coconut Bay suites offer exclusivity plus deluxe amenities, facilities and services including private in-suite check-in and check-out. Serenity's 36 private suites feature plunge pools, custom mahogany king beds and oversized soaking tubs with separate rain showers in en-suite bathrooms.
The CoCoLand water park, billed as Saint Lucia's largest, beckons water-fun-loving guests with towering slides, a large pool, a kid's water playground and a lazy river (equally popular with adults as with kids).
The nearby Kidz Klub is a fully supervised facility equipped with a water feature, a huge pirate ship and air-conditioned indoor playrooms.
Coconut Bay's glass-walled fitness center faces lush gardens and beachfront. The property offers four premium lighted tennis courts and four basketball courts also lit for night play. Coconut Bay's beach has emerged as a popular spot among international kite surfers and both novices or advanced practitioners of the sport can partake in lessons at the beachfront Surf Shack center.
The indoor-outdoor Kai Mer Spa features signature organic therapies in indoor and outdoor, ocean-view treatment rooms equipped with outdoor showers. Coconut Bay's Activities Pool (one of five pools located across the property) hosts aquacise classes and volleyball games.
Yoga and Pilates classes are offered amidst tranquil surf sounds at the property's oceanfront gazebo. Guests can participate in daily treks up Quarry Hill where they can observe 360-degree island views and selfie opportunities.
Coconut Bay's nine restaurants feature à la carte and buffet dining at indoor, outdoor and oceanside venues. Reservations are required at Silk, Calabash and The Greathouse a la carte restaurants. Menus and cuisine options are continually updated.
Silk features Thai, Indian, Japanese and Chinese options infused with Saint Lucian ingredients. The Jerk Treehouse literally takes diners to new heights with an elevated location featuring ocean views.
Featured Caribbean pork and chicken fare comes bathed in secret spicy jerk sauce, while fresh-baked side dishes are paired with fresh-squeezed sugar cane juice and coconut water. Seaside is a casual, family-friendly outdoor eatery serving shareable Italian dishes. Calabash offers a contemporary Caribbean menu with blended with creole and Latin flavors.
Coconut Bay offers opportunities to tour nearly all of Saint Lucia's signature attractions, from the UNESCO World Heritage site Piton mountains to nearby Sulfur Springs, via excursions arranged and customized on property.
Not ready to travel too far? Opt for an exclusive visit to Maria Major, an uninhabited, 25-acre protected offshore island that is home to indigenous bird and (harmless) reptile species. Guests can embark on guided tours led by nationally certified naturalists and spend a couple of hours relaxing on the island's splendid white-sand beach.
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Brian Major is Managing Editor for Digital Publications & Guides/Caribbean.
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