After an 8 hour flight, an hour getting through St. Lucia’s immigration and then a 90 minute mini bus transfer we were feeling a bit tired. On arrival at the Bel Jou we were greeted by the SAGA Rep IAN and told just to go straight through to the Cabana area by the pool and relax with a cooling drink. No queing at reception, passports, signing in or anything like that. A few words of welcome from Ian and our information pack and our room keys were handed out. Having finished our drinks we were escorted to our rooms where our luggage was waiting at our door. We requested a high floor room and were given one on the fourth (hotel has five floors). The room was bright, airy and had a very modern theme with two double beds, ample hanging space, large flat screen TV/DVD, tea & coffee making facilities, telephone, alarm clock, ironing board & iron, hair dryer, umbrella, emergency torch, safe, binoculars, air conditioning and a ceiling fan plus a pair of dressing gowns and a mobile with good tariff was offered from reception to keep for the duration of the stay. There was also a can of insect spray provided for every room but did not prove that effective. We used this, our own UK purchased spray + roll on repellent, but were still bitten! So bring the best repellent available and remember to use them. There was a good size bathroom with a walk in shower, good quality towels and complimentary bath products as well as facial tissues. It had a good size furnished balcony, with views of the sea looking out over the hotels beautiful gardens and the suburbs of Castries. So the room ticked all the boxes for us and it was kept up to this high standard throughout our two weeks stay.
The hotel has a main restaurant and the meals there are served mainly buffet style catering especially for the British taste. Although it was a buffet the food was always hot, looked appetising and the menu varied. The weekly gala dinners were waiter served and both were of superb quality. For lunch there was a choice of the main restaurant or the Cabana at pool side which became a lighter choice eating venue and that was waiter service- Lulu was there to take your order with a smile daily . There were two bars in the hotel, one pool side open 11am till 6pm and the other in the lounge/restaurant open from 11am till 11pm. Although on the all inclusive package drinks were local, we found the quality to be very good. The wines were from Chile, a Cabernet Sauvignon red, a crisp house white and rose. There was an extensive cocktail menu as well as much bottled water as you required all included in the package.
The entertainment in the evenings was great the first week with live bands 6 out of 7 evenings. When the steel band failed to appear on the 7th Ian the rep went to his room and returned with his Yamaha key board and entertained us with some dancing music. On the second week the live entertainment was cut to 4 nights, Ian the rep produced a quiz for one blank evening and was persuaded by the guests to give a repeat performance on his key board. Without a doubt, in our opinion, the country singer, J.L.Stone and his excellent band proved to be the best and on his 2nd performance had ever body dancing.
A weekly feature that we enjoyed was a talk on the local rums by one of the waiters, which included tastings – all of the rums were available at the hotel bars as part of the A/I package.
Being on a SAGA AI holiday for 2 weeks, 3 half day trips were included and these were all good. We paid for a full day excursion to the Pitons, volcano and catamaran cruise, which would have been better if it had not rained on the day. The 2nd was the whale & dolphin trip which was on a deep sea launch and took us down to an area a couple of miles out from the Pitons, where we encountered some 50 or more spotted dolphins who stayed around the for 45mins. We did not see any whales but we declared it the best of the 5 trips we did. Ian the rep puts on a couple of walks, one on the beach and the other up to the lighthouse, both taken to the start points by mini bus. Due to the location of the hotel it is not really possible to walk around the area as the roads are very steep, narrow, dangerous and no pavements.
The hotel provides a complimentary shuttle bus service into town and beyond to the various beaches at regular intervals. The pool is not large but never seemed to be crowded there are plenty of sun loungers but shade could be a problem if the hotel was full and all the guests were on site. This hotel has really hands on Manager Patrick and his staff are all first class with nothing being too much trouble and always cheerful. Although we have mentioned Ian the SAGA rep previously we make no apology for mentioning him again. These were his first days as a representative (for any company) and he proved to be an instant hit with the vast majority of the SAGA guests, who we must be honest about are not always the easiest to please. He gave that bit extra to try to ensure that all his guests had everything they needed and deserves the highest praise.
Finally we did not have to vacate our room until midday our luggage was taken from the rooms at 11.45 and was waiting from us yards from the airport check in desks, which made the transfer easy and hotel reception did on line check in for us and printed our boarding passes.
This holiday was our first SAGA long haul and greatly exceeded our expectations.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- St. Lucia's wonderful, adults only hotel. Boasting stunning views over Castries and out across the gorgeous ocean from its setting atop a lush, tropical hillside, the 4-star Bel Jou provides a tranquil, tropical retreat for today's adult and senior travelers, 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
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- Also Known As:
- Bel Jou Castries
- Bel Jou Hotel St. Lucia/Castries