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“Nice but not quite there!”
Review of Bel Jou Hotel

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Bel Jou Hotel
Ranked #6 of 12 Hotels in Castries
Certificate of Excellence
England, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
279 reviews
55 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 170 helpful votes
“Nice but not quite there!”
Reviewed March 20, 2014

The hotel is rather nice, rooms spacious, fresh and clean, top floor ones have great views over to the sea and gardens, which is what we had. Nice pool and good poolside lunchtime eatery serving light meals. The gardens are very well kept. However, this hotel is more for the Saga upper age group as there is no real atmosphere for the lower age Saga group. The evening meal is average and not what we'd expected as we found it to be pretty dull, the salad choice was extremely limited with hardly any variation. Its a buffet restaurant where a dress code is essential for the evening and as this is the Caribbean and the hotel not even what we would consider a four star (3* max) think this is unnecessary, smart shorts collard top for the men should have been expectable. The saving grace was that the staff are lovely except for a couple of surly ones. Would we return, not for another 10 years or so!!!

Room Tip: Choose the higher floor rooms for beautiful sea views
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  • Stayed March 2014, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Winks6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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275 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
  • Location
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (136)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Any
English first
St. Lucia
1 review
Reviewed March 13, 2014 via mobile

We stay for one night it was my wife Birthday. Which she Enjoy the time there , the Staff was wonderful thanks to ms Carlyn for make it all wonderful .the food was the Bomb .the Room is to died for .very nice place.

Stayed March 2014, traveled as a couple
Helpful?
Thank roger20122
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
East Sussex, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
12 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
Reviewed February 24, 2014 via mobile

The Saga owned Bel Jou is one of the nicest hotels I have ever visited. It is certainly not the smartest but it has something very special that makes people go back, often more than once. The staff, headed by Camilla and Navin, are delightful. It's hard to pick out any one in particular but I must mention how lovely and helpful Navin is and also the lovely Brettany and Mani who drives the shuttle bus. The food is really excellent. At the buffet there are always several choices for each course and there is something for all tastes. The rooms are spacious and clean. The bungalow rooms are a little dark because of all the vegetation in front of them but that is a small niggle and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the humming birds and small lizards that inhabit the area. I am sure that if the rooms were painted white and dressed with some of the beautiful brightly coloured batik that is available on the Island then they would be more cheerful. The gardens are beautiful although the access from the pool terrace involves a lot of steep steps so not suitable for anyone with mobility problems. There is a well stocked air- conditioned library next to the bungalows and a nice little bar by the pool. The Saga representative, Elizabeth, is a lovely lady who does an excellent job. She is really efficient and will sort out any problems you may have. The shuttle bus provides regular free trips into Castries, Rodney Bay beach and shops and the fabulous Pigeon Island. The access roads to the hotel are incredibly steep so walking around the area is probably not a good idea! Do take plenty of insect repellant.......there are midges aplenty and they will get you! Having said all that I can't wait to go back to this lovely relaxing and very special place!!

Stayed February 2014, traveled solo
Helpful?
11 Thank retiree07
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
fareham
Level Contributor
33 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
Reviewed February 18, 2014

"This aint no disco!"..So goes the song by 80s rock band the Talking Heads...My wife Kay had used Saga for a holiday in Malaysia with her father prior to our holiday at the Bel Jou and always praised the quality of service,flights,reps.etc...I admit it was with a little trepidation that I embarked on a Saga Trip. However we did really enjoy our stay at the Bel Jou..Staff were welcoming,helpful and genuine.The gardens are lovely,we would recommend the free weekly tour with Eugine the gardener who explained the plants and foliage and showed us the uses and properties of alovera grown in the garden,He even made some snacks from plantin and banana plants for us to try..A really nice man! Our room [3rd floor] was clean and air conditioned ,Saga left us a special anniversary cake and card on arrival.....The restaurant is a veranda style with many tables outside, sharing our breakfast with the little birds, on one occasion a beautiful humming bird, was fun. We found the variety of food good quality and style,although we did hear some mutterings that it wasn't Carribbean enough!. Im sorry to disappoint the "foodies" amongst you but this "Meat and Two veg man" found the variety of fare excellent...The free courtesy bus was great,We enjoyed days at Rodney Bay, Pigeon Point and Castries Harbour and the driver was always on time.A special mention to Saga rep Elizabeth How..a human dynamo of help local ,knowledge, and enthusiasm. Elizabeth organised Quad Biking for us and Kyaking for another guest...Minor complaints would be about the lack of variety at the bar..I could have died for a "pint of bitter" In true Henry Ford style "You can have any beer you like! ..as long as its local Piton Lager!"...the beer glasses used to serve in the pool area are so small ,your drink is warm by the time you've hit your sunbed!..that aside we would return to this little gem of a hotel...And not a Zimmer Frame in sight....."this aint no Disco."

Room Tip: upper floors ..main block..overlooking harbour and bay.
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  • Stayed January 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Phill U
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brackley, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed January 28, 2014

Stayed late Oct 13 to early Dec and enjoyed every minute . Had a single bungalow - roomy with all the things you need for a comfortable stay. The food was varied and well presented ( I particularly loved the breakfasts ! ) and sitting out on the restaurant balcony both in the morning and at night was lovely . The poolside cabana ( Hi Lucy !! ) was a treat at lunchtime as was the poolside bar - and all in all I could not have enjoyed my stay more . Navin has an amazing group of people working for him and cannot be faulted ; I also made many friends whilst I was there and see another review from 2 of them ( Hi Judy and Clive - see you there again perhaps this year ? ) . In conclusion I would say - go there , enjoy a small and individual style of hotel that is not too easy to find these days of mass tourism.

  • Stayed October 2013, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
13 Thank Stephen T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Isle of Lewis, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
Reviewed January 5, 2014

Having travelled afar, this little corner of the world is a firm favourite. Comfy rooms in the main block, lovely staff throughout, good food & smoothies by the pool. It is a little like going to a Health Retreat.
We travelled out on the 3 rd Dec our 1 st trip with Virgin. They looked after us well.
At the Bel Jou we had a lovely welcome from the Asst. Manager & Elizabeth..
We had not used the Cabanna Restaurant (Lunchtime only) on previous trips, but this time if it had been open 7 days of the wk we would have eaten there every day. The fish was just superb. Special mention for the superb staff. Lulu, Jdavid & 'Charlie' he knows who he is!
The main dining room food was excellent too. Enough variety for us but maybe not as the previous contributor said for vegetarians. Loved all the cheeses that were not available in Dec 2012!
The entertainment was always top class. See the clips of one or two on You Tube.
We did not encounter an issue with the sunbeds being booked although we too noticed the towels on them. The main culpripts left half way thru our hol. but it had not really bothered us. Plenty of beds in the garden area too & if that doesn't suit then you can sit on the veranda in your lovely room. Relax yr in the Caribbean!
We only encountered one major issue & that was the trip to Martinique. We were so looking forward to it. Only four of us went from the Bel J. with the rest from various hotels on the Island. It was the most terrifying experience that we have ever encountered due to the rough seas. Many people were very ill & a number of injuries due to being tossed around. One of our group was left outside on the upper deck too petrified to move. Luckily he was not tossed into the sea! You have to sign a disclaimer once on board..no use in Davy Jones Locker!
On a lighter note we will be returning. We love it. We have travelled the world but the warmth of the Caribbean in Dec is just the 'icing on the cake' for us.
We were so very sad to read about the heavy rain on the 24th Dec & the aftermath of that.
See you in Dec 2014.

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
8 Thank christina m
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cambridge, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
42 reviews
23 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 56 helpful votes
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
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
10 Thank Buddhaman
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

Property: 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 (Based on Average Rates): $$
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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