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“At that age!”
Review of Bel Jou Hotel

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Bel Jou Hotel
Ranked #6 of 12 Hotels in Castries
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed January 31, 2012

Being a Saga-owned/run hotel and having never previously tried them, I read the trip advisor reviews and, despite reservations about barking dogs, books anyway (Sep12). Placed in ground floor room - in what was previously a storage area I understand - which had full width glass and excellent sound proofing compared with other rooms on other floors of main block. Room well appointed and cleaning staff excellent. Food and drink very good. Be warned the 10am pool drinks service doesn't usually surface until after 10:15 (probably due to only paying the person from 10am so, quite rightly only appears at 10am).
Promised self-service Laundry facility when booked only to find this not the case. Significance being we had travelled from Durham to London for a 4 days stay before flying to St Lucia in my MX5, which doesn't exactly hold the earth. If we had known we would have gone in my partners car, which does!
Chose Virgin flights as we had previously only used BA - no difference between them that I preceived.
Would recommed for a relaxing break and the included SAGA excursions were very good.

Room Tip: Try to book ground floor rooms in tower block for better noise suppression
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  • Stayed: September 2011, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank Bappie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed January 19, 2012

I spent Christmas and New Year at the Bel Jou with a friend. We have a room each in the main building on the second floor. Views great and the birds came onto the balcony if you spread a bit of sugar out. Watch out as the little black ones will come into an open door and pinch the sugar packets out of the tea box.
The food was very good, as with all buffets in hotels abroad a lot is the same thing every day. The soups were fantastic and I recommend them. There were joints of ham, beef or pork cut by the chef not altogether but on different days. There was fresh vegetables and they potatoes were very nice.
You could also have lunch in the Cabana by the pool which was waiter service and made a nice change from the main resaurant, the burgers were delicious. There is a bar by the pool and they made smoothies, really lovely but very high in calories I was told.
The pool is not large but is not deep so I could stand wherever I was in it. Sun beds around but some people did put towels on then disappear for quite well before returning. The brochure tells you there are a lot of steps and there are a lot. No point in going there and complaining about them as it is stated in the brochure. Steps down to main block, more steps down to the gardens and steps up to the restaurant and reception. However, with the single rooms behind the Cabana you could get around without doing steps apart from going down to the gardens. Look out fior humming birds.
On previous Trip Advisor reports I had read about the rep Andy, and I was looking forward to having what sounded like a great rep. Unfortunately he is no longer there and the current rep is a very nice man but we did not find him so helpful. All the questions I asked I never got an answer to. We were unfortunate that we were unable to go to the Orchid factory on the included trip because it was Bank Holiday and we asked the Rep if he could arrange a trip there when it was open. No feedback whatsoever. That was disappointing. The same could not be said about the Manager Patrick and his wife Victoria, they were brilliant they were really helpful to me and Patrick went out of his way to sort something out for me. They put on a brilliant New Years Eve celebration and I thought it was really fantastic that he invited some of his staff to the meal and celebrations. It was great to see them enjoy themselves in that close community. Although I did hear one guest complain about it.
We had a gala dinner on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve. Neither was attended by the Saga rep, as it was his "day off". It is the first Gala dinner I have been to with Saga where there was no rep to oversee things. There were several off us who were disappointed in this. But certainly the Manager and his wife made up for it new years eve and they worked hard.
The aerial tram was really nice, if you don't mind heights, it was so peaceful. The sunset cruise was a real treat, it was on a pirate ship and I would recommend this. There was a free bus that would take you down to Castries, the local beach, Rodney Bay and Pidgeon Island. At Pidgeon Island you could walk up the cliffs to the fort. If you wanted to do any of the walks in the optional trips you would need walking boots. There was also a zip wire at the aerial tram.
The rooms are a good size and well maintained, I had no problems while I was there, there is an iron, tea making facilites and even a bedside clock provided. No binoculors in rooms now you have to go to reception and ask.
All the staff were friendly and the hotel had good security plus an electric gate. It is recommended that you do no walk down to Castries as the roads are very steep and not always good quality. I would reinforce this, although some people did do it. I wonder how you would stand on insurance if you were involved in an accident as they recommend against it. The road to the hotel is steep and narrow.
My friend and I had booked the helicopter to and from the internation to local airports. That was a fantastic experience and took about ten minutes as opposed to hour and a half.
I took the tip of a previous report and took quite a few one dollar notes with me for tips and I was glad I did.
Don't miss the market in Castries and if you like spices go to that part. There is a duty free shop by the harbour where you can get perfume, cigarettes, watches etc.
We had a fair bit of rain while we where there and it can come down very suddenly, umbrellas were provided but might be advisable to take a waterproof with you. It could be quite heavy at times and then it would just go and the sun would be out again. But be warned the tilles etc will be very slippery when they are wet.
We had planned to do the Grenadines trip but sadly it was cancelled, no explanation so we did miss out on a couple of things.
Reception staff were very helpful, hello to Gilbert. You needed to put your names down for the buses as numbers were limited, the sheets are on the reception desk. Wifi was available.
I would recommend this hotel but only if you are reasonably well mobile as there are no ramps only steps.

Room Tip: No views from single bungalows but easier to get to restaurant and pool
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  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled with friends
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4  Thank luvhols25
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 16, 2012

From the moment I arrived I felt the calm and chilled atmosphere work it's magic on me. The single bungalows have a unique feel to them although the view is limited. Having mentioned this the first morning I was whisked away to a room with a view. And what a view! Paradise on your doorstep and wildlife at your fingertips. Meal times are relaxed and casual with wonderful dishes prepared by smiling and courteous staff. The evening entertainment was bright and cheerful but although Ian, the resident saga rep, did his best to involve and encourage everyone most of them retired quite early. Just a couple of us remained on the verandah sipping rum cocktails in the balmy evening breeze.. The special people I met during this holiday kept me smiling all day with their stories. (Or was that the exotic drinks from the free bar). I returned to work feeling refreshed and healthy which is exactly what a holiday is for. The only question that now remains is "How soon can I return?"

  • Stayed: January 2012, traveled solo
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8  Thank Jane C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 15, 2012

We returned on 7/12/11 from a 15night stay at the Bel Jou. The hotel is situated up a very steep hill a mile or so from Castries but there is a regular shuttle bus to the town and local beaches. They have installed solar panels to heat the water in the appartments. During our stay we had 8 days of poor weather, during that period there was no hot water in our appartment. We was told the back up system had failed, this we made clear to the management at the time. On our return I contacted Saga's customers relations department and they insisted it was only 4 days and offered a very poor compensation. If you experience the same problem make sure you get it in writng so you can prove your case on your return. Needless to say I will never be using Saga in the future.

Room Tip: Hot water in the bungalows
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  • Stayed: November 2011, traveled with friends
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13  Thank RobertB296
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 8, 2012

The only complaint I have about this hotel is that some of my fellow guests seemed to enjoy complaining and finding fault! Surrounded by beautiful scenery, trees, flowers and birds, not to mention friendly, helpful staff some of these guests seemed determined to have a miserable time! And EVERYONE knows in advance that there are lots of steps and no lifts, and that the hotel isn't on the beach!

Fortunately the majority of us had a great Christmas and NY there, with special thanks to Ian, the Saga Rep, and Patrick, hotel manager and his wife Victoria who runs the beauty salon.

The rooms are spotless and well furnished, fantastic views and excellent air conditioning (which is needed!). Just beware the birds trying to fly in and nick the sugar.

The food was excellent with plenty of choice. I recommend the soups and the fish.

It would be nice to have a wider mix of guests but as it's a saga hotel I guess that's not possible - but all in all a great place to stay on a very beautiful island.

Room Tip: Rooms in main building have the views
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  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled solo
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10  Thank choosybrit
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 23, 2011

We stayed at this hotel late Nov-early December 2011 and we found it excellent.The staff and management at the Hotel were really helpful.The hotel is on the top of a large hill overlooking Castries and the surrounding coast.Its location means you really need to use the courtesy bus.This is an excellent service not only to Castries but also to several other beaches in the locality and its free?? The views from the Hotel are excellent and the rooms were well furnished and cleaned well.It is a Saga holiday hotel so it caters mainly for the older person which suits us fine cos we are older.The food was excellent and so was the bar. The entertainment every evening was of a good standard but mainly music.All in all an excellent holiday.

Room Tip: If your mobility is good go for a High room.If not try for 2nd or 3rd floor.
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  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled as a couple
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5  Thank knockems
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 18, 2011

The Hotel could be called 'Steps'. Fabulous for Able Bodied not so for Disabled. No Lifts, although not high rise so no problemo. Lovely, clinicaly clean, permanently Air Conditioned Bedrooms. Hand Picked, smiling,well mannered and polite St Lucian Staff. The Hotel staff are at the top of the list for making the holiday perfection. A long, long, way from any beaches but the beautiful Caribbean Sea and Tropical CoCo Nut trees can be seen clearly through the Telescope on the Verandah and High Magnification Binoculars are provided for everyone in your rooms. Hotel Bus service compliments you to some public beaches with lovely white sand and crystal clear waters. A large Sun Parasol and Luxury Lounger hired for just £2.50 for as long as required.
Not really possible to walk to a beach due to the terrain and position of hotel very,very high up indeed. Some tourists see to go equiped with strong Hiking boots to explore the Jungle of Virgin RainForest. No flimsy sandals here. Buffet Style Dining, except for the one 'Gala' night. A genuine highlight is the Home Made Soups. Obviously the Chef has a Stock pot, the basis of any truly great kitchen. Lovely, Plentiful and quite Delicious food. Fresh Fruit a speciality - even in your Hotel Room Refrigerator, sliced and prepared to cool you whilst watching the 40 inch Television have the best of UK television if you remember to take a few DVDs from home. Relax on Massive American King Beds, Cushions Strewn around liberally. Crisp White Linen Sheets and Pillowcases - Fresh every day. Snowy white huge towels and Bathrobes for your luxurious, relaxing pleasure
.And for drunks the gratis (free) Poolside and indoor Bars are open 12 hours every day. Pink, Apricot, Lemon even Blue are the colors of the various daily Cocktails. Hibiscus Syrup swished around the rim of the glass before expertly adding the Cocktail, so concocting one with Red Stripes!, all finished off with slice of pineapple and japanese umbrella.
Quite a few retired school mams and just the odd British Snob - but you will get them anywhere. They seem to have a strange 'telephone voice' for reception areas when trying to impress, the real regional accent comes out when they forget. Hyacynth Bouquet would be suited to the ground here!
Yes, they really do 'Candlelight Suppers'!! Fun, Sun and Frolics. Virgin Rainforest and a unique 'Medicine' Garden called 'Manaque' where the Guide is so knowing about the various flowers, leaves, bark and roots of the Herbal Healing trees and plants. He appears to look about 17 years old but is well into his thirties! He puts it down not to the attic picture, but to daily Brews from the Life Enhancing unique plant grown uniquely in the one spot on Lucia.
Energy and Pep giving leaves which can be brewed and drunk like tea. Calming, tranquilizing plants and even reputably, various anti-cancer plants. A replica Pirate Ship for a Sunset Cruise, Sails unfurled to catch the Balmy Breeze whilst Champagne and crustless sandwiches are served. Caribbean Steel musicians playing live on deck. All types of music from Brahms and Mozart to Barry Manilow numbers. On reaching St Lucia, Fly by Helicopter from the tiny Airport over the RainForest Canopy to the even tinier Airport near the Hotel. Feel secure with electronic gates and 8 foot fences around the hotel, a private security team silently watching over you 24 hours a day. Many guests return again and again. Far, far away from any Beach, hence the bargain prices for the Caribbean. You can access any Beach, even the Five Star Sandals ones in the finest areas of the Island. One note of greyness, be prepared for signs of heart breaking poverty and American 5 star excess. The Island is very small, 27 miles by 14. Only a small area is cleared most of it is Jungle type RainForest. What are 2 foot high houseplants here are massive Trees as tall as a house on this island. The one we call the Umbrella plant with leaves resembling the spokes of an umbrella is one that grown in abundance. I saw one of these as big as an Oak tree here. Being my first time in the Caribbean it was nothing like I thought it would be. It is Unique and could be spoiled if developments for Tourists are not strictly controlled. One vast 'Tourist Village' is a rusting, strange looking monster, a man made ugly blemish on Paradise Island. The Developer ran out of money during the recession and Nature is slowly creeping over the bare skeleton of the 'Luxury Holiday Village' The Saga 'Man on the spot' is called Ian and is brilliant, he does far more than his job requires and makes every guest feel included. He knows EVERYTHING about whatever you need to know whilst in the Caribbean. He has to deal with all types and deserves a Gold Medal. Contrary to reports I had gallons and gallons of lovely soft and warm rainwater to shower and bathe in - that is one thing NOT in short supply - water! It is an exhilerating, euphoric experience when the showers come down. It is 84 degrees and it is almost impossible to see beyond a few yards in front of you, the Rain is coming down so thickly in vast amounts. Dont moan about the lovely, soft rain. It is considered very bad form to complain because the St Lucian people are very big on superstition and tradition - Rain is the giver of life and without it..... The Reception will loan you a mobile telephone to make very reasonably priced telephone calls compared to using the public or your own telephone. I lay on the deserted white sandy beach with the bluest of blue, warm Caribbean sea caressing my toes, chatting for ages to people back in England. The bill was shockingly cheap. I found the St Lucian, the 'Lucians, members of staff helpful, polite, genuinely interested in where I came from and my daily welfare. They remembered my name and helped me avoid dangerous areas. I felt quite ashamed of some of the treatment dished out by one or two British holiday makers, who were rude and condescending to the St Lucian staff. I felt the St Lucians insecurity myself at times, because for some reason my own Lancashire accent seemed to amuse these creeps. Apart from Ian, the Saga rep who is British and great there were one or two embers of staff who made me feel very uncomfortable and humiliated. Why would any British Saga employee think it quite okay to skit and mock the way I speak?

Room Tip: Ask for a roo in the ain Hotel block rather than the Chalet, they call them Bungalows in the grounds...
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  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled solo
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16  Thank Circle of Life K
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: La Pensee Road, Castries 89131, St. Lucia
Location: Caribbean > St. Lucia > Castries Quarter > Castries
Amenities:
Free Parking Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#6 Romantic Hotel in Castries
Price Range: $217 - $445 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Bel Jou Hotel 3*
Number of rooms: 52
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

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