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“A very good holiday (Dec 2013) - a vegetarians view” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Bel Jou Hotel

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Bel Jou Hotel
PO Box 296 | La Pansee, Castries 89131, St. Lucia   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #8 of 17 hotels in Castries
Cambridge, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
24 reviews 24 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
33 helpful votes 33 helpful votes
“A very good holiday (Dec 2013) - a vegetarians view”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 30, 2013

As Saga first-timers we were very interested in how this would work out, as we normally go on more independent, adventurous holidays. We are in the `younger' age bracket, I suppose (our average age 59) for Saga customers, and this was noticeable when we arrived, though was not a problem at all.

Firstly, it should be said that right from the first phone call to Saga, all communications were very professional and courteous and we felt very confident in the Company.

Secondly, the holiday was attractive as we had VIP pick-up from home and three tours included in the holiday. We were also able to book our seats on Virgin for no extra cost (I understand from those who travelled with BA that they had to pay extra to book their seat positions).

The flight was good, though I think Virgin's standards have dropped - tight leg-room and minimal food & drink. We were taken, via mini-bus to the hotel which took about 1hr 10mins.

The Hotel was situated high up in the hills and was pretty inaccessible for walkers, though a shuttle bus was provided, which was very good. The hotel was only a third full, so the shuttle bus was easy to book places (other reviews had reported difficulties). The Hotel had previously been reported as `tired', but I would describe it as understated and fits comfortably with the surroundings. In fact, painters were on site sprucing up the place while we were there. As previous reviews stated, there are plenty of stairs everywhere, so you need to be reasonably able.

The swimming pool was not as small as some have reported, and as not many people used it we had no problems. What could be a potential problem is the age-old issue of saving sun beds around the pool area. You are told quite definitely when you arrive that there is no saving of sun beds or the towels will be removed by the staff. What we found very annoying is that not only did people ignore this and save sun beds, but they would go out for the morning and come back to their saved beds. Others, we noticed, would leave their towels on the bed and never come back for the whole day! Also the staff never did deal with this. In the end we just threw the towels off the beds and used them ourselves. No-one ever complained. This could be a big issue if the hotel was busy.

There was a poolside bar and eating area. There is also a large library by the pool (which I wished we had known about as we need not have taken our books with us).

The rooms were excellent, spotlessly clean and very roomy, with two double beds, shower, coffee/tea making facilities, hair dryer and flat screen TV with DVD player. It is worth knowing that there were two robes in the bathroom, a brolly, torch and iron/ironing board, and room insect spray was provided. Our room was on the third floor (311) and had excellent views over the bay and of the hotel gardens. The room also had a large tree outside which all the birds seemed to live in and regularly visited our balcony for their daily feed of sugar. Tip - you need to keep your balcony doors shut otherwise the birds fly in and take the sugar packets from the coffee tray!

The Hotel reception and restaurant was in a different building and was very pleasant. The restaurant was partly outdoors and you could also eat indoors. As vegetarians we are always concerned about the food as we normally have to make do with whatever is available. Now I hope this does not sound contradictory, but the food was very good - that is, well cooked and well presented (and the meat eaters loved it). The problem for us was that though we had plenty of choice it quickly became dull and boring. I felt the food was how it was in the 60s - meat and two veg etc. We were in a foreign country eating like we were in a Brighton hotel ! We had one choice of veggie food compared to 3 choices for the meat-eaters, so our meals consisted largely of broccoli, carrots, roast potatoes, boiled potatoes, salad etc. Though well cooked it was generally a very dry meal. We ate at the pool restaurant one day which again had three choices for the meat eaters, and one for us, and our meal was potato croquettes and French fries - potato and potato !!

The chef did keep asking what we wanted and we kept saying either local specialities or a nice Caribbean curry, but they never materialised, though he did do us a spaghetti one night and an enchilada on another!

We discussed this with the Hotel Manager and said that the menu was dull and we were told that `that's what people want'. Really? With all the international cuisine that we now eat in this country, people on holiday want meat and two veg every day and night?

I think Saga needs to look seriously at this issue as the new generation of potential Saga customers i.e. us, will not return if that is their attitude.

After saying all that we did put on nearly half a stone so we did not starve!

I was particularly impressed that at meal times decent wine was served, and also the other drinks provided were of a good quality. So many all-inclusive holidays serve up poor quality drinks.

Other reviews have commented on there not having a bar area to have an after-meal drink. This is not quite true as there is a bar in the restaurant which you can then sit and drink listening to the entertainment (which was nightly), or go outside and sit in a quieter environment.

In-between meals, scones and jam was served (4:15pm). Coffee/Tea was available all day.

The staff were exceptional and it is not fair to praise individuals as they were all so good. They all seemed happy in their work and interacted with the guests very well.

One member of staff I would like to mention is Eugene, the gardener, who is an interesting man to talk to. Go on the garden tour and meet him, as it is very interesting. He was very kind to us, so we are glad to have met him.

The real Gem for Saga is their Rep, Elizabeth. She was absolutely superb. I believe she had only been there 4 weeks, you would never had known! She was knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and related well with all the guests and even created small trips to go on from the hotel to the beach, the lighthouse, etc. She also made sure that people on their own did not feel left out.

We went on three trips that were included in our holiday which were very good and also went on the Beautiful South tour to Les Pitons/volcano/catamaran, the Jacqout trail, and the Snorkelling day, which were all very good value. I will review these separately.

All-in-all a very good holiday, well organised, lovely climate (though it rained quite a bit!).

Would we return here? No, but that is mainly because there are far too many other places to visit. Also the location of the hotel and uninspiring food would fail to tempt us back. Otherwise, well done Saga we would certainly consider holidays with you in the future.

Room Tip: The higher the better the view, but the third floor has fewer steps to negotiate.
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  • Stayed December 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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147 people have reviewed this hotel

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (66)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Aveley, United Kingdom
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
25 helpful votes 25 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 28, 2013

I Stayed At The Bel Jou Hotel From The 15 Oct To 23 Oct 2013. I Really Enjoyed My Stay At This Hotel. As I Am A Single Traveler I Stayed In One Of The Single Bungalows. They Are Close To All The Amenities Of The Hotel. I Found Them Clean And Tidy. The Food Each Day Was Excellent And Also The Drinks. The View From The Hotel Is Wonderful And You Must Be Aware That The Hotel Is On A Steep Hill! This Did Not Stop Me Going Out As The Hotel Runs A Free Bus AM And PM Into Various Parts Of Castries And Rodney Bay. What A Lovely Beach At Rodney Bay! The Hotel Runs Various Excursions To Most Parts Of The Island. (Free & Paid For) There Are Quite A Lot Of Steps Around The Hotel. I Found All The Staff Very Helpful And They Made My Stay A Holiday I Will Always Remember.

Room Tip: Think About The Position Of The Room You You Book In The Main Hotel.
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  • Stayed October 2013, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
United Kingdom
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 24, 2013

This Hotel Buildings are a very tired. The hotel staff & Manager were very polite and friendly
Sarah the Saga rep needs more training in people skills. The rooms in the main building are fine
but single guests beware the rooms are not so. The hotel is not suitable for less mobile guest
and this needs to be taken into account when booking. We have visited St Lucia before and
you certainly can stay in much better hotels than this one very disappointing as in the SAGA
brochure is states HIGHLY COMMENDED which clearly is not so Money needs to be spent on
this hotel.

Room Tip: Garden Rooms are a No No Book a room in the main block the third or fourth floor would be good for...
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  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Birmingham, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
28 reviews 28 reviews
18 hotel reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
25 helpful votes 25 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 19, 2013 via mobile

We stayed here as SAGA volunteers for a month so hope that this review will give a balanced overview of the hotel.
This is a SAGA owned hotel so all clients are over 50+ and British which leads to some interesting scenarios. It states that the hotel is not suitable for less mobile guests and this has to be taken into account. There are no lifts and numerous steps especially to access the garden rooms. The hotel itself is isolated on the top of a steep hill and it is not wise to try and walk. It is guarded by security 24/7 which could be unnerving for some. Yes the local dogs do bark but they are there for security not as pets. The hotel minibus runs to various destinations but you need to book in advance as there are only 15 seats and these fill up quickly and finish by 5pm.
The rooms and public areas are spotless, staff welcoming and helpful. Considering how young they are they do a good job of trying to enjoy our company too. Local drinks are available all day as are tea and coffee. As we were working,we only had weekend lunches at the hotel and we amazed to find roast beef on Sunday lunchtime each week. We managed to persuade Alvin the sous chef to make some local foods as a change from British dishes and it was great. However some guests complained the food was spicy- it's the Caribbean! Other complaints also heard the sun was hot- yep and it was rainy- it is the rainy season until the end of November!
The pool itself is small but clean and the garden area provided welcome shade when it wasn't raining. The area surrounding the pool can be slippery when wet so care was needed and some less mobile guests did find it difficult.
We were not impressed at all with the rep Sara, but she has now left and Henry returned briefly to introduce the new rep. Liz who seemed genuinely interested in the guests and this should improve the atmosphere.
This was our home for a month and we were well looked after but would not choose this hotel if we were on holiday as we prefer to visit local bars and restaurants and eat more authentic foods. However this in no way detracts from the overall success of the Bel Jou. It would be unfair to single any one member of staff out,so well done Navin on running a tight ship.

Stayed October 2013, traveled on business
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Belfast, United Kingdom
2 reviews
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 13, 2013

The hotel is on top of a hill overlooking Castries harbour on one side and the open sea on the other, the road up is very steep and pretty poor houses, not a great hotel to go for walks from.
The hotel buildings are a little tired, but they do what they can to keep up with the maintenance, the gardens are great, I seen more variety of birds here than on any of the excursions.
The rooms are clean and regularly serviced and cleaned.
The food is adequate with few choices, it is buffet style 6 out 7 days, the 7th.day is waiter service and this was very good menu. There is a cabana by the pool, for lunch this is by far the best place to eat, freshly cooked and friendly service.
The best feature of the hotel is the staff, from the Manager to the house maids, everyone is friendly and helpful.

Room Tip: For the best views it would be the 5th floor, all the rooms in the main building had sea views
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  • Stayed October 2013, traveled solo
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
walsall
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 2, 2013

We stayed at Bel Jou for two weeks early October 2013. We had a wonderful time.
All of the staff from the manager down were extremely efficient, very polite & friendly,always smiling, particulary Aliede, the egg lady & Sherman. Sarah the Saga rep was particularly attentive.
Our room was on the third floor and provided an amazing view over Castries and the ocean. The room itself was spotless and very comfortable. We stayed on an all inclusive basis as most guests do and in my opinion it is fantastic value. The food was absolutely wonderful for breakfast, lunch & dinner, I note other reviewers complaints about the food, they must have been in a different Bel Jou
to the one we stayed in. This is not a four or five star hotel but it is a very good hotel and excellent value. As to the weather it was very hot and quite humid some days but come on this is the Caribbean and it is the rainy season, what do you expect ! All in all a wonderful holiday and woul'nt hesitate to return.
Graham C
Staffordshire

Room Tip: Choose rooms on 3 or 4 the floors, less steps to negotiate.
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  • Stayed October 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
England
Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
19 hotel reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
57 helpful votes 57 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 1, 2013

Our second visit to St Lucia and the Bel Jou and we weren't disappointed. Our room, like most others, enjoyed a lovely sea view and was very well appointed (but note, no baths). All-inclusive food and drinks were very good indeed with plenty of choice at all meals.
Location is on outskirts of Castries which is accessible by hotel's shuttle bus, as is Rodney Bay (main resort area).
No lifts and so plenty of stairs between floors, but no problem if reasonably mobile.

Room Tip: Higher level rooms have better views. Single rooms have limited outlook.
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  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Bel Jou Hotel

Address: PO Box 296 | La Pansee, Castries 89131, St. Lucia
Location: Caribbean > St. Lucia > Castries Quarter > Castries
Amenities:
Free Parking Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#8 Romantic Hotel in Castries
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Saga guests can now enjoy a holiday at Saga’s own hotel on the Caribbean island of St Lucia. Boasting stunning views over Castries from its setting atop a steep hill, the 4-star Bel Jou provides a tranquil, tropical retreat for today’s over 50s, free from the distractions of the more overrun resorts. With many opportunities for sightseeing and sampling island life, the hotel’s relaxed atmosphere is perfect for a leisurely holiday or a lively Caribbean experience. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Bel Jou Castries
Bel Jou Hotel St. Lucia/Castries

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