Dance on it, rub it on your body—there are so many uses for everyone’s favorite sweet.
The island of St. Lucia is best known as a honeymoon destination, but it may soon also be known as the chocolate capital of the Caribbean. The island’s cocoa industry dates back to the 1700s, and today the tiny island is home to numerous cocoa plantations, the largest located in the southern part of the island between Soufriere and Chousiel.
Soufriere, which lies in the shadows of the island’s famous Pitons mountains, has three essential ingredients for growing cocoa beans–volcanic soil, lots of humidity, and shade (plant is sunn-sensitive), whichhas helped the industry flourish.In 2017, the plantations provided more than 17,000 pounds of raw dried cocoa beans to the UK and its esteemed chocolate producers–including Hotel Chocolat, a boutique company started in 1988 that’s leading the charge to make the island’s signature Trinitario variety of cacao a household name.
Visitors to the island can experience chocolate with tours, spa treatments, meals, and cocktails. In fact, many of Saint Lucia’s restaurants incorporate cacao in their dinner and lunch menus, and numerous resort spas have spa treatments that highlight the island’s favorite plant.
At Hotel Chocolat’s Boucan resort, The Tree to Bar Experience takes guests through the numerous stages of chocolate production, plus guests can make and taste their own chocolate. The resort’s spa also incorporates cacao into every treatment (massages, body wraps, facials) and lotion (cacao-peppermint, cacao-rose, or cacao-nutmeg/cinnamon). And if that wasn’t enough, you can sip on drinks like the Cacao Bellini or nibble on delicacies like scallops marinated with cacao or homemade cacao pasta in the restaurant.
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The Heritage Tour at the Fond Doux Resort takes visitors through the 250-year-old plantation, where the smell of chocolate literally hangs in the air. Guests visit the cocoa fermentation house, learn about harvesting and making chocolate, and can even participate in a traditional “cocoa-rina” dance, which helps polish the cocoa beans. At the spa, seasonal local fruits like cinnamon and cacao are used in treatments–the signature chocolate wrap is a great option for anyone, even kids.
Jade Mountain offers weekly culinary experiences at their onsite Chocolate Laboratory. The 2-hour Emerald Estate Cocoa Tree to Chocolate Bar Tour is hosted by chocolate alchemists and takes guests on a complete chocolate journey. It starts with planting and harvesting and ends with chocolate making; every guest can try local cocoa tea and take home a complimentary bar of Emerald Estate Organic Chocolate. And for top-notch spa treatments, the Kai en Ciel spa offers a chocolate citrus body polish, a chocolate facial, a mocha massage, and a hot chocolate candle massage. For those who want it all, the Chocolate Lovers package includes the body polish, facial, and mocha massage.
Located on the site on an 18th-century estate, the Morne Coubaril Estate offers the Historical Estate Tour, which includes an opportunity to watch the fermentation and bean drying processes, as well as the cocoa dance (polishing of the dried beans). The tour also explores the property’s plantation house and a recreated farm workers’ village, which aims to show what life was like for both the owners and those who did all the hard work.
The La Dauphine Estate, one of the island’s oldest cacao plantations, also offers tours of its facilities. Established in 1713, the plantation sells its beans to the British-owned chocolate producer, Hotel Chocolat, which owns and operates the neighboring Rabot Estate where Boucan is located. Guests are also treated to the “cocoa & chocolate” experience–from freshly brewed “cocoa tea” (a hot chocolate brewed with cinnamon, nutmeg, or vanilla) to a complimentary estate tour with the property manager.