Travel Weekly's Gay Nagle Myers is in St. Lucia, touring the island following the devastation wrought by Hurricane Tomas in late October. Her third and final dispatch follows.
Somewhere between the sixth and seventh site inspection on my second full day in St. Lucia, I hit the wall. The resorts were beginning to run together in my mind and in my notebook.
I’d seen so many rooms with canopied four-poster king beds draped in delicate mosquito netting that I wanted to either take a nap on one of those beds or find the nearest hammock.
My day began with a St. Lucian breakfast of bakes (an unleavened biscuit, salt fish and cucumber) and a cup of cocoa tea. There was a break at midday for a lime squash, a yummy citrusy drink that tasted like lemonade and lime. My day ended with a dinner of mahi mahi, caught that morning in the Caribbean Sea below my balcony at Cap Maison.
In between, I got a sneak peek at St. Lucia’s first casino, Treasure Bay, which opens Dec. 13; was driven through Rodney Bay, where new restaurants, bars and stores await winter visitors; saw yachts and mega-yachts moored at the Rodney Bay Marina, where plans call for 200 more slips by next year; toured Calabash Cove, a charming 26-unit beachfront cottage-style resort; and felt the stiff breezes off the Atlantic in the far north end of the island at Cotton Bay, a 74-unit apartment-style resort.
By then, I was done. I told James, my energetic, chatty driver, to take the rest of the afternoon off.
I headed for that uncrowded beach below my balcony and struck up a conversation with a middle-aged couple from Charlotte, N.C., on their third visit.
This is the demographic that tourism officials lust after: well-heeled, repeat guests who had clearly found a destination and a resort that fit their requirements and exceeded their expectations.
With 4,500 guestrooms in a range of properties from intimate to not-so-large in size, St. Lucia’s got the accommodations factor figured out.
So I asked the couple what it was that brought them back three years in a row.
"We love the island’s attractions, the people and the view from our bedroom," the husband said.
Tourist boards spend a lot of time and money in market studies to determine who comes and why. Just talk to your visitors, I thought. This couple had it down pat.
Click to read Gay's first and second dispatches.