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Lisa Nov 23rd, 1998 11:15 AM

Just back from Ladera, St. Lucia -- any questions?
Just back from a wonderful week at Ladera Resort in St. Lucia. I highly recommend it! Feel free to post any questions and I'll respond.

Monty & Laura Dec 3rd, 1998 06:26 PM

We have made reservations for early April. How was the bus/boat trip to the beach? Does that work, or did you hang out by the pool? Did you rent a car? We could not decide between Ladera and Anse Chastenet and finally chose Ladera because it seemed more intimate, more beautiful, and less crowded. Any advice? <BR>Thanks for your help.

Patti Dec 5th, 1998 02:39 PM

I'd be very much interested in any information you have, also pics. Tried to email you but it was returned. What were the rooms like? I need to make up my mind pretty quickly, and starting to panic! (we are planning a Feb. trip) <BR>Thanks in advance!

lisa Dec 10th, 1998 08:00 AM

Monty & Laura/Patti: You are going to love Ladera -- it is gorgeous!! We stayed in a suite with inside plunge pool (unheated). The view from our room was unbelievable but I have to admit we didn't use our plunge pool because the water in it was too cold (next time I would just get a room without a plunge pool and save the money). Unless you spring for the extra money and get the heated plunge pool I'm not sure it's worth it just to look at it (although it does look cool!). There are two shuttles a day to Anse Chastenet (one around 9 am and one in the afternoon around 4 pm) and three shuttles a day to Jalousie Hilton (one around 9 a.m., one around noon, and one around 4). The shuttles are free. We took the shuttle to Anse Chastenet two days, to Jalousie three days, and the other days we took little day trips nearby (to the rainforest, volcano/botanical gardens, etc.). The shuttles were great, very convenient, and it only takes about 15 minutes to get to the beach. They give you all the snorkeling equipment and provide beach chairs and beach towels. If you feel like staying at the beach longer and eating dinner at one of the hotels, you can just hire a taxi to take you back to Ladera later which I think costs around $6 U.S. We did not rent a car because we were told the roads are very bad and it's true as you will see immediately when you hit the road from the airport. When we needed to go somewhere we just hired a taxi. (I think a one-way trip to or from Soufriere was about $6-8). There are some very nice taxi drivers (Ben and Benton are the ones we remember) who will also give you little tours around the area. You can negotiate a fee with them. We were thrilled with Ladera and were glad we stayed there instead of A.C. or the Hilton. The snorkeling was better at A.C. than at the Hilton, but we liked the beach better at the Hilton so we went to both. I got stung by a jellyfish one day at A.C. but that was just bad timing -- the current had brought them in that day, and the next day they were gone. We ate the free breakfast at Ladera every morning, which was wonderful, and we generally ate lunch at whatever beach we were at that day, and all the food was great. You may want to check out some other dinner options though because Ladera gets pricey. We ate at the Hummingbird in Soufriere one night and at Bang (between the Pitons) another night and liked both of those a lot. Other people recommended Captain Hook's in Soufriere and Camilla's too. Ladera's manager hosted a barbecue one night with a band and that was delicious and a lot of fun because there was a free cocktail hour beforehand by the pool where you could meet some of the other guests. The only other thing about Ladera is that if you are afraid of little geckos or frogs or lizards you may have a problem -- they occasionally show up in the room but are very cute and timid. We had birds fly in and out of our room in the daytime and an occasional bat at night but it was no problem. They have bug spray in the room and mosquito netting but the only bugs we ever saw were moths at night. We had the most wonderful time -- Ladera is very private and secluded -- I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. If you haven't already checked out their website, you should -- it's -- good luck!

Tara Apr 18th, 1999 05:57 PM

Hi, Lisa. <BR>I just visited the Ladera website. The layout was very interesting to me. I'm wondering how comfortable you felt with half of the building open like that -- sleeping on a bed practically under the stars. Could you hear others in their rooms? Are they all connected or separate? And being on the hillside like that, are there a lot of stairs? <BR>Thanks for your time! <BR>Tara

Silke Apr 19th, 1999 12:53 PM

Hi Lisa. I'm just curious about the beaches you went to near the hotel. Were they relatively uncrowded & large, or were the folks packed onto a tight space like sardines? Also, the restaurants you mentioined. Were they within walking distance of Ladera or the beaches, or did you have to take a cab? Thanks in advance for your help! I've been considering going to Ladera for some time now, but always wondered about the beach & food situation. Look forward to hearing back from you. <BR>

lisa Apr 21st, 1999 07:32 AM

Tara: The layout of the place is perfect -- very quiet and private. They are connected on the sides but we never heard our neighbors at all because there are thick fieldstone walls in between each unit. Every unit faces the mountains and the Caribbean with an incredible view. We loved the open-air design and being able to lie in bed and see the view and feel the breeze. No, there aren't a lot of stairs at all -- just a few stairs up into most of the units and also a small flight of stairs up to the restaurant, which is also open-air. Our room also had the bed up in a loft elevated above the rest of the room, so there were some stairs there, but I don't know if all the units are like that. But it is a fairly steep ride on the road up the hillside to Ladera (the views on the way to and from are gorgeous). One day we hiked down from Ladera to the volcano which was about a 20-minute walk, but I would not want to walk back up the hill! (We had a shuttle pick us up afterwards on its way to the beach, which worked out perfectly). <BR>Silke: The beaches nearby were great and not very crowded at all. Our favorite beach was at Jalousie Hilton but the best snorkeling was at Anse Chastanet so I would recommend going to both. One of the restaurants I mentioned, "Bang," is a very short walk from the Jalousie Hilton. The other restaurants, "The Hummingbird," "Camilla's," and "Captain Hook's" are in the town of Soufriere. I suppose if you really wanted to you could walk to them from Ladera but it would be a pretty long walk. Plus it gets dark in St. Lucia pretty early year round and doesn't fluctuate very much because it is so near the equator -- I think it was around 6:00 or so -- and I would not want to be walking on those roads in St. Lucia in the dark because they are narrow and steep and there are blind curves with speeding drivers and lots of potholes. A better idea would be to go to them on the way to or from the beach at Anse Chastanet, since the shuttle from Ladera to Anse Chastanet goes right through Soufriere and stops at the dock because you have to take a water shuttle the rest of the way to the beach. So if you took the last shuttle of the day from Ladera to Anse Chastanet, you could just get out at Soufriere and not go the rest of the way, and spend some time looking around Soufriere (we did this one day, taking pictures at the church and other places around town) and then walk to dinner at one of the places nearby. Or you could go to the beach at Anse Chastanet, and at the end of the day take a water shuttle back to the dock at Soufriere and then go to dinner. Otherwise, you could just take a taxi to or from Ladera, which is pretty inexpensive, and that's what we did one day. You'll see when you get there -- getting around is easy. Everyone is very friendly and will give you directions or help you find a ride or whatever you need. <BR>I highly recommend it -- good luck!

heather Sep 8th, 1999 06:51 PM

My fiance and I are planning a trip to St. Lucia for our honeymoon in early June 2000. We are staying at ladera for 6 nights in one of the deluxe suites. I have been to their website and from the photos alone I am completly sold. There are a few things that I still have some questions about. We know that the dinners at Dasheene are pricy but worth it and we will eat there but I am wondering about less expensive (Could you give rough estimates) lunch and dinner recommendations in the surrounding town of Soufriere? Also I am curious about the ride from the airport to the hotel. Our hotel transfers are included in our vacation but we are arriving in the evening (around 7:00) and I am wondering how safe it is to travel at night? Are the roads really as bad as I read. I also read on one of the postings that Ladera hosts a BQ dinner at the resort with music and a 1 hour complimentary cocktail hour. How was it and was the dinner complimentary? If not how much was it. Finally, I would love any other comments and suggestions that you may not have already mentioned. <BR><BR> <BR><BR>Thanks again

lisa Sep 9th, 1999 12:32 PM

Heather: Congratulations -- you are in for a treat! <BR>1. There are lots of good dining options nearby, and locals like to recommend their own favorite places so be sure to ask taxi drivers and the folks who work at Ladera -- they are used to these questions and take pride in the local cuisine. Recommended places: Captain Hook's (an inexpensive local place that our taxi driver told us about: "This is where the real people go, you know what I mean? And they use the real local fresh ingredients."), Camilla's (another moderately-priced local place), Bang ("Between the Pitons" -- good and cheap), and the Hummingbird (a nice quiet & romantic place for dinner; entrees around $12 if I remember correctly). You can also buy fruit and other snacks at the market or grocery in Soufriere very inexpensively. (You will see that this is easily done on the way to or from Anse Chastanet as it is on the way.) (Buy the way, we found that locally-made bottled sauces and condiments that we bought for next to nothing in the grocery store made great souvenirs and little gifts to bring back to friends. Coffee was good too.) Since breakfast is included at Ladera, we were rarely very hungry at lunchtime and often just had a snack or some fruit on the beach, and saved our appetites for dinner. The restaurants on the beach at Jalousie Hilton and Anse Chastanet were very good and not that expensive. Try the roti -- it is sort of a Caribbean version of a burrito and very delicious. Lunch entrees ran about $6-10 apiece at JH and AC but we often split one if we weren't that hungry. The local beer, Piton, is very good and was about $3-4 in the larger hotels but very cheap at the local places ($1-2). The fruity tropical drinks are very good too. (Those are more like $5 in the hotels I think.) One thing we loved was arriving at Ladera late at night (after 11!) and walking up to the bar/restaurant there and meeting the bartender, who insisted on making us two "special" drinks and rustled up some food for us even though the kitchen was closed. We never did figure out what was in the drinks but they were fantastic! And we didn't know what we were eating either but it was wonderful. He never did charge us for the food or drinks that night (we ran up quite a tab there the rest of the week though). It was true St. Lucian hospitality. When in doubt, ask the bartender to make you something special or ask him what he recommends -- they like to surprise you. One of the best lunches we had was after our hike in the rainforest -- our guide took us back to the van where the driver had freshly-cut bananas and pineapple waiting for us -- unbelievably delicious. <BR>2. Our flight arrived at night also -- around 9:30 pm if I remember correctly, so it was very dark out. The airport is TINY and the taxi dispatcher arranges for the van transport to the various resorts. When we arrived, there were 2 other couples with us in the van to Ladera. It took us a few minutes to get our bags and get through customs, and then it was about a 45 minute drive to Ladera. Yes, the roads are bad but don't worry, the taxi drivers (we had several over the course of the week) are uniformly excellent. We never rented a car the whole time we were there because taxis were relatively inexpensive, reliable, and much safer than driving ourselves because they know the roads much better and where all the potholes and hairpin turns are. The ride at night was an adventure but I never felt unsafe at all; we chatted with the other folks in the van and enjoyed gazing out the window at the darkness, listening to the sounds of the forest at night, and wondering what it would all look like in the daylight. I think it is perfectly safe to travel at night as long as you're with someone who knows the roads well. One caveat: NEVER walk the roads at night (this is not a crime issue, it is because the local drivers careen around the sharp turns at breakneck speed and can't see you because there are no lights on the streets). Even walking on the streets in the daytime must be done with caution and the second you hear a car coming, get completely off the road, even if it means going into the brush. <BR>3. Yes, Ladera hosts a weekly barbecue which we enjoyed very much. Unfortunately I can't remember how much it was, but it seems like it might have been about $25-30 apiece? Sorry my memory for the details is fading. The cocktail hour was complimentary and was by the pool, where you could walk around and meet the manager and some of the other guests. The food was a set price per person, an all-you-can-eat buffet-type thing with various "stations" in different corners of the restaurants where things were freshly grilled to order, and included grilled marinated mahi-mahi, tuna, steak, chicken, etc. They had a local reggae/calypso band that was good. The Hilton hosts a weekly barbecue on the beach also which was about $50 per person -- that was our big splurge, and the food was very good and it included the entertainment which was limbo dancers and fire eaters. I liked it but I think my boyfriend liked it more than I did (it seemed like a lot of money to me). There is also a weekly special show at the restaurant Bang which was recommended to us by someone at Ladera. That restaurant is near the Hilton and is VERY casual and inexpensive and has good grilled fish and steak, but one night a week (Tuesday or Wednesday I think) they add a floor show (yes, limbo dancers and fire eaters). It was kind of cheesy but the food was great and not expensive and the Piton beers were around $2.50. I would go back to Bang again but I think I'd go on a night when they're not having the floor show -- I think they inflate the price then and to me, the food was the main attraction anyway, not the fire-eating, limbo-dancing twins (seriously). Hint: When in doubt, order anything locally-made, locally-raised, or locally-caught -- it's fresher, cheaper, and better! <BR>4. One tip if you want to save a little money is that if you are a wine drinker, you may want to think about bringing along a bottle or two. We brought two special bottles (one in his suitcase, one in mine) and were glad we did. It allowed us to have a glass of wine or two before dinner while we were watching the sunset in our room (many of the rooms have refrigerators, or they will happily put it on ice for you) and was much less expensive than buying wine there (beer is cheap or about the same as in the U.S., wine is a lot more because it's all imported, which is the rule of thumb for everything on islands I guess -- if it's made there, it's cheap; if it's imported, it's not). Also, make sure you bring more film than you think you will need; it's expensive to buy it there. You don't need to bring a blow-dryer; if you ask at the office desk the morning after you arrive they will give you one to use for the duration of your stay. They also had insect repellent in the room, which we never needed nor used. I brought a flashlight with me but never used it. We did bring a couple of little votive candles and enjoyed using those in our room at night, as they provided a little light without having to turn on lights (which would attract moths and make it harder to see the gorgeous stars; plus candles are more romantic). They also provided cute blue and white seersucker robes in the rooms, which we never used either! <BR>Have a great time -- sorry I can't remember more details about the prices, but the bottom line is, you can spend as little or as much as you want in the local restaurants, with the same general price range as here in the U.S.

heather Sep 9th, 1999 03:50 PM

Lisa, <BR>Thanks again so much for the detailed response. We are the kind of people that like to explore and try local things when traveling. Your description of ladera and Soufriere sounds like the perfect place to do just that. I am 10 times more excited than before hearing from you. <BR> <BR>P.S. <BR>The wine and candle tips are great. <BR> <BR>Thanks again, <BR>Heather

lisa Sep 10th, 1999 10:40 AM

Heather -- Please post a trip report here when you get back and let us know how it was. I hope you like it as much as we did. And we will want to hear about any other places/activities that you would recommend, because we plan to go back again someday (this year we're trying Costa Rica)!

sheila Feb 14th, 2000 05:22 PM

Thanks Lisa for that great insight of Ladera and all the great tips. I was very excitedd about our trip in May but now I don't think I can stand the wait!All of my questions were answered at once and I appreciate it. My husband and I have been married 11 years and this will be our first real "trip" without our 3 small children. Ladera sounds so romantic and now with all this great insight I know I chose the right place for us!

lisa Feb 15th, 2000 09:26 AM

Sheila -- You're welcome, and I hope you have as incredible a time as we did. We still talk about it and look at the pictures & can't believe how beautiful it all was.

sheila Feb 20th, 2000 11:38 AM

Hi Lisa - One more thing, tipping. What's the story with tipping. Does the staff Ladera require tipping. If we go to the other resorts do we tip the staff there too? I just want to make sure I budget enough that I don't get all stressed. Thanks!

lisa Feb 23rd, 2000 07:39 AM

To be honest I can't remember what we did about tipping (it was over a year ago). I know foreign countries have various different customs about tipping and I'm sure we just read in the guidebook what to do about tipping taxis, resort staff, waitstaff etc. and did accordingly. There may have even been a service charge included in the prices it seems to me, but I just can't recall. Regardless, the staff were all very kind and helpful and never "had their hand out" waiting for a tip. I do definitely remember on the last day we left a special envelope for one of the bartenders who had been particularly attentive and friendly and had gone above and beyond the call of duty for us all week (served us drinks and dinner very late at night on the first evening of our arrival, made us "special drinks," recommended other good restaurants in the area, etc.) I believe we left an envelope for the housekeeping staff as well. You may want to do a little research on your own on this before you leave -- check with a travel agent or guidebook. Also, make sure you read the fine print on the menu because it should tell you if service is included in which case you need not leave a tip.

Jen Feb 28th, 2000 04:49 AM

Hello, <BR>My fiance and I are debating about the honeymoon location. I had originally been pushing for French Polynesia but because we're coming from the east coast, the Caribbean would be nice. St. Lucia, and the Ladera especially, look wonderful. My only concern is the time of year we'd being going which is October. Isn't this hurricane season in the Caribbean? Any advice would be helpful. <BR> <BR>Thanks for all of your details about the resort, it sounds lovely. <BR> <BR>Regards, <BR>Jen

Debbie Feb 28th, 2000 08:21 AM

Lisa, thank you so much for all the great details! My fiancee and I are going on our honeymoon in May to Ladera for 9 days and we can't wait! I'm writing down all your suggestions for restaurants and am happy to hear about the taxi situation. I wasn't sure how easy it would be to get around the area, especially after dark. One question, did you go to the beach every day or did you ever use the Ladera pool? Thanks again for all the great advice. <BR>Debbie

lisa Feb 28th, 2000 09:05 AM

Jen: Yes, October is definitely hurricane season in the Caribbean. However, St. Lucia is quite far south -- not so far south as to be completely out of the hurricane belt like Aruba is, but it is fairly rare for St. Lucia to be affected by hurricanes. Locals told us they occasionally get rain or winds if there is a hurricane elsewhere in the Caribbean but they couldn't recall a direct hit. October is toward the end of the rainy season though and it is likely you would experience some rain in October. We were there in early to mid November and it only rained a few times the whole week, for 5-15 minutes each time. The sun was shining pretty much the whole time, even while it was raining (we saw several rainbows). The good thing about going at this time of year is their rates are much more reasonable than they are later like in December-January. <BR> <BR>Debbie: We went to the beach almost every day but did use the pool a couple of times. For example, one day we took a guided daytrip into the rainforest, and the trip returned fairly late in the afternoon around 3 or so, so instead of going to the beach at that point we just spent the rest of the afternoon at the pool. It was nice although the water was a little chillier than I prefer it (my boyfriend loved it). They have floating rafts you can use in the pool if you choose. It's very relaxing. The pool isn't large but there was almost never anybody in it when we were there!

Juli Feb 28th, 2000 09:18 AM

Lisa, <BR> <BR>I think that I am going to suggest that the Ladera hire you as an employee. You have so much valuble information and it's so nice of you to take the time to help fellow travelers. I am leaving for a week at the Ladera April 8-15th and you have helped to answer most of my questions. I do have one more though. Can you remember if any of the deluxe suites were more romantic than the others? I hear that S is supposedly romantic but I wondered if you had any insight. <BR> <BR>Thanks for all of your time, <BR> <BR>Juli

lisa Feb 29th, 2000 12:17 PM

Juli: I am a little worried that if I keep telling everyone how great Ladera is, it may get too popular. Maybe I should keep it quieter! <BR> <BR>Anyway, unfortunately I don't have any advice about which rooms are the best (in fact, I can't even remember which room we had now that I think about it -- seems like it was H or I?), but I have read other posts on this forum saying that S is great, so it's probably a good bet. Also, you could always call and ask! Tell them it's your honeymoon and you want the most romantic room you can get, and ask them if S is the one they would recommend. When I called the number on their website before our trip the guy there (I think their US agent is someplace called Caribe in New York State if I recall) was really helpful. We were worried about their menu (my boyfriend doesn't eat fish or shellfish) and they were kind enough to fax us sample menus for lunch and dinner which reassured us and also gave us an idea of what to expect in terms of prices. So I am pretty sure they will be helpful if you call and ask them this. <BR> <BR>Make sure you post a trip report when you get back!

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