This summer we celebrated our 5th anniversary and wanted to spend it somewhere tropical without the kids. We ended up deciding that 4 days was an appropriate length to get away but not miss the kids too much.
We flew out of Charlotte for the cheapest flights and stayed at the Duke Mansion the night before we flew out. It was a beautiful historic house and we shared a sleeping porch with our neighbors. We arrived late at night and didn’t get to check out the grounds, but we saw there were some play structures so it would be a good place for children. Breakfast was included and was a very nice affair in a big room with sun streaming in the giant windows.
We flew nonstop from Charlotte to Hewanorra International Airport. Most resorts have you fly from there to the northern part of the island, but we were staying in the more mountainous, less touristy area. Researching online I had fallen in love with Jade Mountain and the concept of a room open to the surroundings. I couldn’t quite stomach the $1100+ /night though and I kept looking until I found Ladera. The rates were much more reasonable and we still got to have the room open to the view and a private pool in our room.
The drive to the property was very mountainous and winding and the road was lined with beautiful buildings that had been allowed to fall into total disrepair. The airport had advertisements for lots of condos and real estate, but we didn’t see anything like that. Any wealth on the island much be on the northern side.
The Ladera property itself was stunningly beautiful. The entire resort is built on the side of the mountains between the Titons and there are views from everywhere. The interior side of the resort is tropical jungle bliss with beautiful blooming flowers and colorful mosaic pathways. Our room had the large open wall with a wooden railing around it. If you looked over the railing and straight down you could see that you’d have a very uncomfortable drop if you fell, probably some broken bones but unlikely to kill you. The private pool was right against the cliff and didn’t have a railing, so you could sit in the pool with your head propped right against the view. Our bed was on a raised platform and completely enclosed by mosquito netting. Our bathroom included an open shower where birds liked to hang out.
We ate most of our meals in the Ladera restaurant and enjoyed that very much. The food was good but not remarkable, but the views were top notch. We never went a day without seeing a rainbow during breakfast. Every table had a water gun on it, so you could scare away birds that wanted to share your breakfast!
The only other place we ate was Boucan, directly across the street. It is a chocolate plantation turned resort and all of the menu items had cocoa as an ingredient. It was a beautiful restaurant and the idea was cool, but I’d give the food a pass next time.
We took a guide hike of Gros Piton that our hotel listed as “Strenuous”. I’ll admit that I told Chris it probably wouldn’t be that bad and the hotel was probably just trying to deter fat tourists. It was 4 miles round trip and 2400 feet elevation change and I think it absolutely earned the title “Strenuous”. The last quarter of a mile you are pretty much on your hands and knees pulling yourself up the mountain. I could tell the guide didn’t think I would make it, but I did! You can tell from the pictures that we got a little rain at the top so the views were not crystal clear. It was still incredible though and I would definitely recommend it. The sense of accomplishment is nice too!
Our resort did not have beach access, but there was a shuttle that went to Sugar Beach less then 10 minutes down the road. The beach itself was not particularly nice and they were asking $75 per lounge chair to sit in the nicer resort area. There were some free chairs off to the side but this area was shaded and had several children selling their woven leaf creations and a couple tourists smoking weed. We didn’t end up relaxing on the beach at all, but we did take a SNUBA tour that left from this spot. I was not very comfortable going underwater as part of SNUBA so I floated at the surface watching the fish from above. Chris went as deep as 20ft and saw a lot of sea life such as octopus and lobster. He had a great time. Our guide was very good about finding and pointing out sea life and he even emailed us some pictures he’d taken since our camera ran out of film.
We also spent some time at the spa, my goal for the trip was to relax and cherish our alone time. So other then the hike and SNUBA we spent the entire trip at the spa, in the hot tub, eating, or in our room reading and relaxing. It was by far the most leisurely trip we’ve taken as a couple, but we loved it.
If we stay there again (we’d like to!) we will definitely be springing for a room with a heated pool, but that was our only complaint! The pool was only useable when the sun was actively shining on it and even so it was a little cold.
Chris prefers the plain pictures magnets so you can tell he picked this one out!