Fodor's Expert Review Fond Doux Plantation & Resort
West Coast Rd., 4 miles (7 km) south of town, Soufrière, Soufrière, St. Lucia See on Map Fodor's Choice
Here at one of Soufrière's most active agricultural plantations—and one of its oldest—nine historic cottages salvaged from all around the island have been rebuilt on the 135-acre estate and refurbished as guest accommodations. The immense plantation, which dates back to the mid-18th century, spreads across hilly terrain that is lush with tropical greenery: palms, bamboo, fruit trees, spices, and flowers. Vacationing families, couples, and adventurers of every type and stripe can immerse themselves in St. Lucia’s rich local history and culture.
The restored Creole homes are now freestanding one- and two-bedroom gingerbread cottages graced with period furniture and surrounded by dense tropical foliage and marked trails that meander through the property. All have mini-fridges; some have full kitchens. In addition, a half-dozen hilltop "honeymoon suites" are also charming, with private plunge pools and outdoor "rain" showers.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Rooms have no air-conditioning and no TVs.
Bathrooms in the cottages and suites are quite luxurious, with tile floors, stone or tile walls, shower stalls, and modern fixtures—including vessel, basin, or sculptured clay sinks.
Reception is in a small, colorfully painted building that also houses a small boutique with a few beachwear items, souvenirs, and chocolate balls or sticks produced on the plantation.
A bi-level pool—two pools on the upper level and a third below—is small but adequate given the number of guests.
Sun loungers, tables, and a library of books and board games are in a covered area on the upper level of the pool deck.
The tiny, no-frills Mama La Terre (Mother Earth) spa—one treatment room—has a small menu of massages and scrubs that incorporate local coconut oil, organic fruit-and-spice potions, and mud from the nearby sulphur springs.
There’s no gym, but guests enjoy complimentary zumba classes and also get some exercise by hiking the plantation’s hillside trails.
Fond Doux’s rustic, open-air restaurant is one of the most popular spots to enjoy a “plantation-to-plate” Creole lunch when touring the natural sights in and around Soufrière. Divided into two sections, Cocoa Pod serves buffet-style breakfast (included) and a full Creole buffet at lunch; Bamboo offers an à la carte menu at lunch and dinner by candlelight—mainly Creole cuisine. Nearly all ingredients are locally sourced—many from the plantation itself.
The bar is open for a cool drink during the afternoon and evening but closes soon after dinner. Fond Doux’s guests are more inclined to listen to the night owls (and other woodland creatures) rather than being one.
Fond Doux provides complimentary shuttle service each day to Sugar Beach, a beautiful white-sand beach in a striking location between the Pitons.
Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort, has a water-sports cabana at the beach, where non-guests can rent snorkeling and other equipment; there's a dive shop there, as well.
A rental car is a good idea if you want to explore local sites on your own and get to nearby restaurants. Driving is not too difficult south of Soufrière or between Fond Doux and Hewanorra International Airport. Taxis are always available, too.
Dasheene at Ladera (10-minute drive) offers open-air dining on the terrace for lunch or dinner—get there in time to watch the sun go down between the Pitons. Just across the road, Boucan Restaurant (10-minute drive) offers “cacao cuisine,” where everything on the menu—whether sweet or savory—is either infused or spiced with cocoa in one form or another. Farther north in Soufrière, on the north side of the harbor, Orlando’s (15-minute drive) specializes in exquisite Caribbean cuisine using local, sustainable products—fine dining in a casual atmosphere.
Each Friday evening in Anse la Raye, a small fishing village several miles north of Soufrière, the main street is blocked off for a street festival, called Anse la Raye Seafood Friday (25-minute voyage). Residents set up barbecue grills and picnic tables and serve up grilled fish, lobster, roasted corn, boiled crayfish, and more. There’s usually live music, too. Take a water taxi to/from Soufrière Harbour, as the winding mountain road heading the north is dizzying during the day and worse at night.
If you feel like having a nightcap, head for Boucan (10-minute drive) for a chocolate-infused martini or cacao Bellini. Alternatively, the bar at Ladera, across the road from Boucan, has live music most nights. It’s recommended that guests not visit local bars in Soufrière.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Fond Doux offers a completely different type of vacation experience, one that allows guests to soak up the natural environment, engage local culture, and feel part of history.