When my fiancé and I first started talking about our honeymoon, we thought we wanted an action-packed European vacation, filled with Irish breweries and Scottish castles. That is, until the stress of planning a wedding finally got to me, and I started crying over the fonts and styling code of our wedding website (I’ll blame my years as a digital editor for that one). My future husband looked at me and said, “Let’s go to the beach.”
And so Scotland turned into St. Lucia, and our itinerary through the British Isles shifted to one involving crystal-clear water and fruity cocktails. And while the thought of doing nothing more than reading novels with my toes in the sand for a few days was enticing, I was still itching for a little adventure. Enter: Ladera.
The only hotel set within St. Lucia’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, which overlooks the country’s famed Piton mountains, Ladera is an “open-concept” resort, meaning that all the rooms have only three walls, with the fourth being replaced by a view of the mountains.
Practically made for Instagram, the vistas from our suite’s mountainside perch were unlike anything I’d ever seen before, and the nature-filled panorama only complemented the gorgeous locally carved wood found throughout the room. Plus, it was just a quick 15-minute drive to the nearby Soufrière volcano and, of course, the beach.
I couldn’t recommend the experience more highly. But, despite expansive starry night skies, private plunge pools, and a lush on-site garden filled with tropical flowers and cocoa pods, there are a few things you need to know before booking a stay at this out-of-the-ordinary hotel.
There will be bugs (and birds, and frogs, and lizards).
When your accommodations are fully open to the elements, critters of all kinds tend to find their way in. Fortunately, each room comes equipped with extra-strength bug spray, a mosquito net over the bed, and squirt guns to shoo away any overly friendly birds. All that said, if seeing a lizard skitter across the wall is not your cup of tea, perhaps think twice about this kind of vacation spot.
There’s no a/c.
If your version of paradise includes climate-controlled accommodations constantly set to 65 degrees, then Ladera’s laissez-faire approach to air-conditioning might not be for you. No thermostat adorns the wall, but the resort’s high elevation ensures regular breezes that’ll have you reaching for a sweater come sundown.
It might be a little loud.
After dark, the island’s fauna can get a little rowdy. Frogs make their presence known with deep ribbits, birds sing at dusk, and rain on the roof can be a bit, well, thunderous. If you’re a light sleeper, be sure to request earplugs to ensure a full night of rest.
Be prepared to rise with the sun.
When one wall of your suite simply doesn’t exist, it’s best to adopt an “early-to-rise” mentality. Fortunately for those up with the sun, Ladera’s restaurant, Dasheene, offers a traditional St. Lucian breakfast complete with salt cod, fried bakes, and sweet cocoa tea.
Your room overlooks a giant valley.
Scared of heights? Think again before booking a room at this hillside resort. The open-air wall directly overlooks the valley below, giving the spectacular, high-altitude views a tinge of danger, but a decorative guardrail prevents any accidental tumbles. Romantic, breathtaking, and just a little bit scary: I wouldn’t choose to start my marriage anywhere else.