This is intended to be useful for men looking for some "no --" research on Ladera. Ladies, you can read at your own risk.
Oftentimes us men are faced with challenging vacation proposals from our respective lady friends, and we are stuck trying to balance the "logic" of an elaborate vacation against the "cost" of said vacation. Personally, I am more easy going than my buddies and the men in my family... but spending $400 plus per night at a smaller resort was worth some pretrip research. My concluding opinion is that this experience was worth the expense of the trip. Sure, other locations or resorts might offer some different things, but in my opinion, cruise activities will never let you relax with a view like this.
Getting there is no picnic. We flew from Chicago to Philly to St. Lucia, which took probably 8 hours in all. I am well traveled, but for some, that can be a long time in airports and on planes. When we got to the airport (Vieux Fort, the southern airport, not Castries), Ladera had arranged a shuttle to drive us to the resort. The drive was lousy. 20 miles took 2 hours. Nothing resembling a highway. The road was full of potholes and was a very choppy drive. We actually asked the driver to stop at a little bar, so we could regain our bearings. This road condition is all due to a major construction project that the St. Lucian government started a couple years ago. There were major issues with the Irish construction contractor, which has setback the progress of the road repairs. I was told that in a year or two it will be better. The point here is that traveling to this place is not like checking in to the Hilton across the street from O'hare. It takes time and it may even test your patience. However, if you are on your honeymoon or are excited about the end result, this should be a forgettable part about your trip. However, perhaps warn the Mrs. to be prepared for some discomfort. At the very least she will be warned and you can confidently tell her that you "told her so". Ok, we all know a comment like that only perpetuates the fury, but if you have planned ahead and can give her a motion sickness pill, it will disguise both your organization skills and your sensitivity pulse. Suggestion for air travel, consider flying into Castries and driving south, as the road is better and more interesting in my opinion.
I think Ladera was a gated resort, so the security feeling was totally comfortable. Checking into this place is easy, they carry your bags to your room and all that. Just give them your credit card and it is amazing how simple things can be. The fridge in our room was stocked with a few beverages, no charge, and it was nice to kick back with a Caribbean rum and coke after a long day of traveling. The walking paths are very nice, flowers and banana trees all over. The other common grounds of the resort are also nice. The main pool looked great, but we did not use it. The pool deck was also nice, but it was not big, which is probably not necessary considering the low number of available guest rooms. There is internet access and some American television in a little lounge area. It is nothing special, but checking fantasy football scores gave me some comfort. The restaurant is everything people talk about, great food and moderately expensive. This place is easily in my top 3 in the world for places to eat, but expect to pay at least $100 for dinner for two with dessert and wine. They actually gave us a bottle of wine or discounted some wine for us due to a honeymoon package, which I suspect was eligible for all guests, including those not on their honeymoon. I liked the bar, a very mellow place that had respectful and professional workers. It was great to hang out and enjoy a glass of wine before dinner, just staring at hawks divebombing the Piton valley.
The weather for us was very pleasant in late November. Felt like mid to upper 80's most of the time, but it may have been hotter. It rained only one afternoon for a couple hours, which was actually very fortunate because the view of sweeping rain and incoming clouds was awesome. Some people have commented on the humidity being a problem, but we did not think it was overly humid at all. Although it was darker earlier at that time of year, in the future we will probably try to visit during the same season. One of the reasons I chose St. Lucia was that it is south of the main hurricane belt, which is apparently a concern at that time of year.
We stayed in room N and enjoyed it very much. Bed upstairs with the netting everybody talks about. College quality couch and chairs on the main level, which was just fine for our needs. The bathroom was surprisingly large and they had a power converter for the electronics. The pool is not something to swim in, it is way too small. But ours was exposed to the sun and became comfortably warm by noon. If you have seen the video from Ladera, you can get a sense for the pool and room, but I think the video only shows the best and largest rooms. We were happy with the room, but we also can tolerate less than 5 star amenities. The water was warm, not hot. The lizards and bugs were visible but not swarming or annoying. There were plenty of moths at night attracted to our bathroom light, but it was no big deal. Did not get bit or disturbed by anything at night. If you or your woman absolutely detests camping, the living quarters may be a bit challenging. Otherwise, if you can forget about your American or European luxuries for a few days, tramping around barefoot or by sandal can be pleasantly liberating. I think many people who say negative things about Ladera are mostly dissappointed with the room. The room is decent, not great. It is probably less clean than a Holiday Inn. You are not paying for the room quality by going to Ladera, you are paying for the view. The view is everything and more than what is shown in pictures and on the video. If you appreciate awesome views and privacy, this is place for you. If you cannot stop to smell the roses, Ladera might not be up your alley.
We recommended Ladera to some friends and they spent a few days there during their honeymoon. Their experience was not as positive as ours. They had stayed at Sandals beforehand and I think were expecting some of the same all inclusive services. They seemed more interested in the next free meal than relaxing, and the woman is more of a Sex In The City type. I can see why they did not like it as much, and perhaps I should have given them some of this information ahead of time.
The Hilton everybody talks about is just a beach resort in my opinion. Seems very nice, but not much character. This is the place to swim and snorkel for Ladera guests, although those that appreciate nature will be discouraged that the Hilton imported the sand on their beach. We took a couple tours while at Ladera and had a good time listening to and visiting with the guides. The volcano tour is interesting, but it does not look like what I expected a volcano to look like. If you have been to the hot springs in Colorado, this is very similar. I enjoyed it, but would not do it again. We also went to the Diamond waterfall, which was cool but there were lots of tourists. On the same tour we went swimming in another waterfall, which was fun. The botanical garden tour was very very nice. However, DO NOT consider swimming in the hot springs. These are basically YMCA quality pools with hot water that smells like rotten eggs. Tempting as the tropical experience may sound it was a total waste of money. We did not spend a lot of time in Soufriere, but when we go back to Ladera, that is one place I would like to hang out more.
I found the people of St. Lucia to be very nice. I have traveled a little in the Caribbean, and the people here seemed more friendly than Barbados, St. Thomas, Martinique, etc. The people of Aruba I found to be more kind to tourists than the other islands, but everybody's experience is different. I heard in St. Lucia that the unemployment rate is crazy high, something like 25%.
So in closing, I guess I could say that for the right type of person, Ladera is one of the best possible vacation spots. My wife and I are those types of people, so Ladera will always be special for us and we will go back many times I am sure. However, if you are not up for a little adventure, or if your companion will flip over a cracked fingernail or a curious lizard, you might want to stick to something more like Sandals.
Hope it was helpful, good luck gentlemen.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Ladera is the pioneer of the open air three-walled concept in St. Lucia and has since been distinguished by a wide range of international publications, awards and accolades from Conde Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, Forbes Life Caribbean Travel and Life, Brides Magazine and countless others. Ladera was once part of Rabot Estate, one of Soufriere's oldest plantations, which still borders the resort. In the late 1960's a parcel of land was sold and developed into a small cluster of condominiums and christened Dasheene, named after the thousands of large, glossy-leafed dasheen plants (also known as elephant ears) harvested on the site. In 1982 it was transformed into a unique resort and changed hands a number of times before emerging as Ladera under the current private ownership. The mission has always been to offer an unparalleled guest experience that is quintessentially Saint Lucian, one that embraces the magnificent views and offers harmony with the surrounding natural beauty and rich bounty of the island. Today, that commitment to sumptuous authenticity is evident in everything from the innovative renderings of fresh local dishes at Dasheene restaurant, to the use of Caribbean timbers, stone and tile work used in the guestrooms and public areas. Yet it shines through most effectively with warm and welcoming Saint Lucian staff. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Ladera Hotel Soufrière
- Ladera Resort Soufrière
- Ladera St Lucia
- Ladera Resort St. Lucia/Soufriere