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Reviewed November 12, 2004

From 15.10.04 to 30.10.04
Virgin holiday Gatwick to St Lucia, no problems, other than the entertainment consoles were down for a couple of hours, and we were rewarded with vouchers for our next holiday (!)
Check in at St Lucia airport went without a hitch, although immediately past passport control we were bombarded by the St Lucian’s offering there baggage carrying service, which was a mad scramble – and it isn’t worth it as you have to walk about 10 meters to where the Virgins reps were, and the Taxi drivers carry your baggage for you.
Journey to the hotel was an eye opener, an hour and a half of stunning scenery, on very bad roads, depending on your driver depends whether you arrive needing to de stress or whether you are relaxed and ready for your hols (not for those with a nervous disposition).

The hotel staff at St James were excellent, check in was a formality which was soon over and a ride to your room in a ‘golf buggy’ being shown the sites on your way round. Room was ok, there were four of us (two kids), with not a huge amount of room for your luggage (I haven’t found a lot of places where there is), our view over the Caribbean sea was superb, stunning in fact with sunsets to match.

Restaurants were fine, three at the St James’ one of which was a $US 35 surcharge which we heard really good reports about, but we didn’t have the need. The other two, Trade winds (breakfast lunch & dinner) was ok; the service at times was slow, and if you spent two weeks only eating there would be a bit boring; the Palm grill ( lunch & Dinner), for lunch served the fries / burgers/steaks/ chick nuggets etc, was great for the kids, and good service. The evening meals at the Palm Grill you had to book for ( get in at least 24 hours beforehand), and was great, the menu changes every two days, and we would recommend, again stunning views. Afternoon tea was served with biscuits & sandwiches.

The bars were ok, although at busy times the Sundowner was slow, but just go to the tradewinds bar, as they were available most of the day, and only a further 20 meters to get served! Whatever drink you wanted they would serve with branded drinks ( the restaurants would usually serve Spanish / French wines).

Two pools. The main pool in the centre of the complex always something going on – sports / competitions/ trial scuba diving etc, which was noisy but expected. If you wanted to get away from it all, at the top of the complex was an adults only pool and bar, which was quiet, and allowed you to get away from it all, but as with the whole of the complex, because it is built on a hill, took some steps getting to (upwards of 70 steps in some places), but for us manageable, other who were less firm on there feet struggled). There were always plenty of sundowners, and great not have to ‘reserve’ them as soon as you get up in a morning.
The beach was clean but small, raked every morning, while we were there it was rough for a couple of days, and a lot of sand disappeared from the beach, they call it chocolate bay as it was always murky (not dirty) with the sand being constantly suspended in the sea, so no snorkelling – but plenty of places around the island to do so. Plenty of waterspouts – sailing / canoeing / water skiing etc.

We went on the Virgin trip whale and dolphin watching, the dolphins were amazing, hundreds of them, which for the four of us was absolutely amazing. Some other people we met saw nothing, so be warned!
We went with ‘Joys’ tours for a tour of the island – fantastic day by boat and taxi, bat caves / waterfalls / sulphur springs at the volcano (bit disappointing that bit), a real Creole lunch, snorkelling (fantastic), and then a boat ride back, expect at some point to have rain, but no big deal. Really enjoyed this.

Kids Club. Really good deal here, they take the kids 10am-12; 2pm-5pm, 6.30pm –9pm, we rarely saw our kids at these times, and they do take care of them, from tee-shirt painting / Bracelet making/ Playastation / film days/ beach party / trips out to name a few . But just ask where you are due to pick them up, cause it might be in a different place to where you drop them off!

Check in and chill out at the end of your stay was excellent (although the check in bit at 8.30am on the day of your departure took around half an hour queueing), but worth it so you didn’t have to do it at the airport on the way back Just enjoy your last few hours there!

Overall well worth going, there would always be things you could pick up on and criticise, but we were on holiday, the people without exception were great ( although too laid back at times) – would we go back – no, but only because there are other places to visit in the world!

Get in touch if you want any other info

5  Thank Ellkat
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
West Rounton, Northallerton, NOrth Yorks. UK
14
Reviewed November 11, 2004

We went 22/10-05/11. Room good, big comfortable bed. The kids beds were however poor, pull out type beds that had seen better days. The main eating area, Tradewinds, is in need of a paint, and I found the floor a bit dark with the steps not easy to spot for those with poor sight. I was of the opinion that money is very tight in St Lucia, perhaps the big tour companies are squeezing the resorts too tightly.

The staff were without exception, friendly, polite, and helpfull. Food was good Tradewinds, with different themes every day. Fresh stir fry at lunch was excellent. Our kids are 8 and 10 and had a great time. The pool is not the best Ive seen and neither is the beach, but they are perfectly adequate. If animals bother you then dont go. birds and cats are always in the 2 inclusive restaurants. The cats are to keep down vermin. Did meet one group of which one member had a parasitic worm in his foot, which they suspect was caught on the beach. Yuk!.

There were 2 downsides to the holiday, a) The beach and sea are average, as previously mentioned on this site, and b) All the sporting equipment, games, watersport gear etc, is tired and in need of upgrading.

Many plus sides however and we had a great time. Brig Unicorn was great for kids, that was a fab day. We all met some very nice people ( big hello to James, Claire, Tom, & Ben). There were a party of large Americans (note the order of the wording) there for a wedding who were exceptionally loud, but probably didnt realise the fact. Even 1 to 1 conversations could be heard a hundred metres away. I did here good reports about Joy's trips that have a boat on site.

2 of us were sick in the mini bus on the transfer in, so we booked the helicopter back. All very exciting. We were due to fly at 16.30 to catch the 18.35 Virgin flight. Due to storms 16 of us eventually left Castries airport at 17.00 in 2 mini van taxis. We arrived At the international airport at 18.25. Needless to say the plane was late taking off. "Check in chill out" at the hotel meant that the bags were already on the plane and would have to be unloaded if the plane was to leave without us. Very interesting. One final thing, the sun can be very hot, try not to burn your kids like we did (again)

We would not return, but only because the world is a big place.

4  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 1, 2004

We visited St James Club from Oct. 22 –29, 2004. Overall we found the resort to be quite nice, but with a few areas that could be improved. We arrived via American Eagle from San Juan, Puerto Rico, landing at the small airport (Charles) at Castries. This was nice in that we were only a few minutes from the resort, versus the long haul from the international airport on the south tip of St. Lucia. From the time we landed, got off the plane, passed passport control, collected luggage, passed customs, and hailed a taxi, it was only 30 minutes to check-in at the resort. Quite nice indeed. Figure on no more than $10US from this airport to St James.

First impression of St James is quite nice, as the lobby area is open and airy and very nicely appointed. We were taken to our room by golf cart, along with our luggage. On the way the driver gave us a quick overview of the resort and then on to our room. We were on the third floor of the block, which gave us a nice ocean view (not water front but a nice view). We looked out over the resort grounds and then on to the beach and ocean. We liked this location since it was close (a short walk down a walk way to the main resort area) but far enough away from the center to be quiet at night.

The room was quite nice, with wicker furniture and pleasant tropical prints on the bedcovers and chair cushions. Furniture consisted of two chairs, a round glass topped table, a large dresser with drawers and a mini-fridge (unstocked), a nice sized closet with another chest of drawers and safe, two nightstands with lamps by the queen sized bed, and a TV with cable service. Our room had a balcony with a table and two chairs (standard for all rooms is either patio or balcony). The floors were tiled. The bathroom was very good sized, with tub/shower combo, plenty of counter space and good lighting. Overall the room was in good condition and the housekeeping staff did an excellent job in cleaning and making the room up each day. Our only complaint about the room, and this is minor, is that it could have used a bit more light at night in the main room, like a floor lamp. Other than that, it was excellent.

The grounds of the resort are well kept, very clean and nicely trimmed, mowed, etc. There always seemed to be someone working away at the grounds. The hard surface tennis courts were undergoing renovation while we were there but the pair that is covered in Astroturf was available (there are four courts total). The health club, while small, provides the basic equipment needed for a workout. It seemed to be lightly used anyway so it is probably adequate. There are also saunas and steam rooms, as well as showers, at the health club. There is no spa, but full beauty salon services and massages are offered (we did not make use of either). There is one main swimming pool in the center of the main grounds that may be used by anyone, and one adult pool for over 18s only. We used the adult pool only, which is very nice, with its own bar service, but no food service. We found it to be quite peaceful and a good place to meet other guests. A nice touch as St James is a family resort and can have lots of children present.

The beach is, as others have mentioned, on the small side, but well kept up and very pretty. However, the surf does tend to churn up the sand, which on St Lucia is not white but brownish, so the water is murky at beach edge. If you go out into the water a bit it clears up, but not enough to snorkel with much success just off the beach. Best snorkeling is gained via boat trips (see below). There were plenty of beach chairs at both the beach and pools, and we never had problems finding two to use. Water sports include Hobie Cats, kayaks, pedal boats, water skiing, and snorkeling equipment. All of these are included in the resort rates. One must sign up for the Hobie cats and water skiing, but we never had to wait for the other items. The surf was quite calm the majority of our time there, but the last two days the red flags were out due to high surf caused by some storm far out to sea.

Food service included in the all-inclusive package is at one of two venues, the Palm Grill and Tradewinds. Tradewinds is used for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and is the buffet option. Palm Grill is used at lunch time as a beach grill, with burgers, hot dogs, chicken, fries, etc. and at night is reservation only ala carte dining. We found the food over all to be quite good, and really enjoyed Palm Grill (we reserved ahead for every night – must do it quickly each day for the next day). We only had dinner once at Tradewinds and it was good, but we enjoyed the table service at Palm Grill. House wine, which was a basic French white or red, was good, but if one desires better it may be purchased. The resort also offers an extra cost dining option called Nicole’s at $35US a person. We found the food and service so good at Palm Grill that we could not justify the extra expense. People that did dine at Nicole’s had good things to say about it. Breakfast offered a good selection of fruits, eggs, meats, cheeses, pastries, and an omelet station, along with juices, milk, coffee, and so on. It was a good spread. Lunch at Tradewinds was full buffet each day. There was also a midnight buffet offered at one of the bars (Pierre’s) but we never tried it so cannot comment. Drinks were good, all good brand liquor. Beer on draught was either Piton or Heineken. Wine at the bars was the same French wine as served in the restaurants.

Evening entertainment was at the Sundowner pavilion and ranged from good to just ok, and was comprised of local talent. The steel drum show was quite good. The active bar at night is Pierre’s Hideaway, on the beach. This is where most of the adults gathered in the evenings for drinks before dinner as well as after dinner into the wee hours. There is also a bar at the Sundowner, another located close to the dining areas, and one at the adult pool open only during pool hours. Bar service was good, and the only complaint is that a few more bartenders at busy hours would have helped. There are waitresses that walk around taking orders as well, which helps speed things up.

We did only one excursion, which was Joys. He operates from the water sports building at the resort and offers a nice excursion by boat down the coast to the Pitons, including a side trip to the volcano, a waterfall, an excellent lunch of local foods on the beach (prepared by his mother), snorkeling at the base of the pitons (right at the Jalousie Hilton beach), and then return. Departure is 830am and return is around 330-400pm, so a good part of the day. Cost is $65US per person and in our opinion well worth it. A nice day out. Sign up early since he sells out real fast. One note is that Joy uses smaller boats so if you are inclined to motion sickness might not be good.

We also went into Castries on our own via the local bus service (can catch just out side the resort for cost of 50 cents US per person to down town and same amount back). Be sure to use the 1A bus, when it comes just flag it down, easy and lots cheaper than taxi, which is at least $10US each way. Tell the driver where you want to get off on way back, but when going into town it will make final stop at the market area. Castries has a nice craft market, duty free shopping, some interesting old buildings, and a nice harbor.

The majority of the St James guests are from England. During our visit I would estimate about 98% were from England. We found that to be quite enjoyable, as we have always enjoyed traveling to England and enjoy being around the English people. There are also lots of families with children. Depending on time of visit this will vary. During the time we were there it was mid-term school break in UK so many families were on holiday. This was not a problem as the children were all well behaved and the adult only pool was childfree.

Now for the things that could be improved at St James Club. Overall this is a nice resort but there are a few things that need a bit of attention. Some of the furniture in the public area needs reupholstered and/or painted (a few pieces could even be replaced), and a bit of paint here and there on the buildings would help. I realize that all the people using everything plus the tropical climate can cause much wear and tear. However, constant attention to these little details can have major impact on the overall impressions of the resort. Minor complaints to be sure, but a bit more attention to these little things could move this resort up a notch.

Overall we felt this was a great value for the money we spent and we would return to St James with no hesitation. A very nice place.

  • Stayed: October 2004
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
12  Thank WillieC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 30, 2004

We used trip advisor to help select our resort based on the feedback provided which was very helpful and it turned out we made a good decision.

We flew BWIA (a welcome 34 inch seat pitch) and apart from a delay at Heathrow (not BWIA's fault) the flight was excellent. The transfer to the resort - as mentioned by everyone - takes an hour and a half, we found it fascinating as it was our first trip to the Caribbean and really gives you a flavour of the Island.

St James Club is a brilliant place to stay (With easy acces to the capital Castries for everyone who wants to do some retail therapy in the duty free malls and the local market - highly recommended)

Our room was superb - large and airy with brilliant A/C which was most welcome. The room was cleaned to a very good standard everyday with fresh towels etc and a turn down service.

The food was excellent - a good variety to appeal to all tastes in Tradewinds. We ate in the Palm Grill twice which was also excellent. We did not feel the need to pay the extra to eat at Nicoles with such good quality available in the all inclusive package.

The staff were very friendly and the service brilliant. They really want you to enjoy yourself and come back for another visit and tell your friends to do the same.

There are unlimited amounts of booze (all premium brands) and every cocktail you can think of.

All in all superb.

The Beach is a bit disappointing but is adequate and as the sand is very fine due to its volcanic origins the sea is cloudy.

Be carefull not to suffer from all inclusive syndrome - it would be easy to just stay on the resort which would be a great shame as St Lucia is a really beautifull island - We hired a jeep for three days (expensive at £50 a day but well worth it) to explore the island. Nice for Brits as they drive on the Left !! We met a local guy who offered to be our guide down to Souffriere and the Pitons - he showed us lots of things off the beaten track that you wouldnt get with a tour - and it was nice not being on a schedule. The local people are very friendly but you do get approached for money etc which can be a bit off putting. Our 'friend' (who was very pleased with the EC$ 100 - about £20 we gave him) made sure we werent hassled. If you want to do something similar and would like some good company and the benefit of local knowledge - his name is SYLVANUS LABADIE and he can be reached on tel number 7189087.

All in all memorable holiday. Have no qualms about visiting St James Club - you should love it.

By the way dont use the phone in your room to phone the UK - as we found out to our cost it is approx £2 per minute !! You can make international phonecalls from the many public (coin operated) phone boxes outside the resort for apprx £1 for 3 or 4 minutes - just make sure you have lots of ec$1 coins.

Would we go back - Absolutely

6  Thank Get-away-go
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Plymouth, England
13
Reviewed October 26, 2004

We stayed St. James Hotel 30 Aug - 14 Sept 04, we had a really good time, despite reading the bad reviews before travelling, I must admit it did put us off a little. The good points regarding the hotel are:
Friendly Staff, especially resturant staff, one in particular Venalda my children thought she was great. All the facilities were good, swimming pool, tennis courts and all water sports. A special mention must be to Joys trips, we had a fantastic time on his boat, we saw quite a bit of the Island, and his mum cooked a lovely barbecue overlooking the pitons. Then we enjoyed snokelling in between the pitons. I fully recommend this trip (excellent value for money). The food was good a varied selection and good choices for children.
The bad points are: General maintenance of hotel, eg. lick of paint here and there, the beach although nice was not very good for snokelling.
We also took a trip to see Whale and dolphins (what a waste of money would of rather gone on Joys trip again).
Overall we had a really good holiday.

3  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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