Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
An eco-minded natural retreat ideal for travelers in search of an authentic island experience
Unlike other Caribbean islands characterized by low-lying flatlands and scrappy brush-style vegetation, St. Lucia is filled with dramatic mountains topped with burgeoning rainforests and cascading waterfalls. Fond Doux Plantation & Resort is one of the few resorts that successfully integrates this gorgeous landscape into virtually every aspect of its 130 acres -- from the dramatic views seen from the small pool, to the thicket of jungle surrounding each of the 11 free-standing cottages, to the working cocoa plantation and organic farm located right on-site.
It’s hard to beat Fond Doux’s level of authenticity. Fruits, spices, and vegetables grow organically throughout the grounds, and guests are encouraged to pick whatever strikes their fancy -- that is, when they aren’t feasting on the local cuisine at one of two open-air restaurants. On the cocoa plantation, which dates back to the 18th century, tours of the process for creating cocoa sticks are given daily. And several of the authentic colonial-style cottages are original 19th-century island structures -- relocated and restored on Fond Doux’s grounds. Of course, authenticity also means a few hardships: no air conditioners, no TVs, and no Internet except for Wi-Fi around the small reception office and by the pool.
True to its jungle-like surroundings, Fond Doux is a bit rough-hewn -- some may complain about the lack of modern conveniences, while others may wish for something a bit tidier. For instance, the pool might be along a stunning cliff, but it’s also rocky and unkempt; likewise, the pathways to the cottages and tiny spa are at times overwhelmed by thickets of jungle, making walking a test in agility and patience. Additionally, many details in the cottages need maintenance: Soap dishes are moldy, tile grout is discolored, and appliances have clearly been around for quite some time.
To be fair, such drawbacks are inherent in a property so integrated with its surroundings. Guests hoping for an authentic island experience that lies somewhere between full-scale resort and Robinson Crusoe will find Fond Doux ideal -- especially considering the affordable rates, which are often loads cheaper than other Soufriere options.
On the southern side of the island, near major tourist destinations and next to the Pitons
Fond Doux Plantation & Resort is one of few resorts that can claim the ideal positioning of being located right between St. Lucia’s iconic twin Pitons. Unfortunately, though, the resort itself is too high up and too far inland to actually afford any views of the two mountains.
Despite lacking any beach access of its own, the resort is quite close to Jalousie Beach, whose powder white sand and up-close views of the Pitons make it one of the island’s best. The hotel offers a free shuttle to this beach, though guests have to catch it at designated times. Additional hot spots are a short drive or even a walk away, including several of St. Lucia’s best restaurants, the Tet-Paul nature trail, the Diamond waterfall and botanical gardens, and La Soufriere Sulphur Springs and volcano. However, shopping is virtually non-existent in this area -- all nearby experiences are strictly tourist destinations.
Be aware that many attractions require a drive through the main town of Soufriere, which can be seedy in many parts -- not to mention extremely challenging to drive. Even more daunting is the long drive between the south and north sides of the island, which is filled with hairpin turns, massive potholes and serious inclines. Exercises caution if renting a car.
The 11 freestanding cottages are unplugged -- no TVs, Wi-Fi, or A/C -- allowing guests to focus on nature.
The authentic colonial architecture of Fond Doux Plantation & Resort’s 11 well-spaced cottages is about as bona fide as it gets -- several of the units actually date back to the 19th century and have since been relocated to the resort’s grounds. Such authenticity has dual effects: On the one hand, historical accuracy is something to be revered and appreciated, providing travelers a connection with the island’s culture and storied past. On the other hand, history means age, and many aspects of the cottages are indeed quite old.
The furnishings are varied, though four-poster beds and wicker patio furniture are, for the most part, a standard. But wear and tear shows in the form of moldy showerheads, worn or stained sheets and bedspreads, and old appliances. For guests looking to be pampered in the essence of luxury, these cottages won’t make the grade. But pragmatic travelers who are more interested in the surrounding awe-inspiring nature than the thread count of their sheets will probably be pleased.
A working cocoa plantation and farm that was toured by Prince Charles
Two open-air restaurants draw heavily from on-site organic produce, spices, and meat.
With just 11 freestanding cottages on 130 acres, this eco-minded resort is intensely lush, featuring coconut groves, fruit-bearing trees, and a working cocoa plantation. Amenities are surprisingly plenty for a property with so few beds, including a small spa, a small three-tier pool, and two organic restaurants. The rustic experience won't appeal to everyone, as TV, Wi-Fi, and A/C absent in the rooms, but adventurous travelers on a budget will surely appreciate the gorgeous authentic surroundings and affordable rates.