“Ooh, a week of eating chocolate... do you need someone to carry your suitcase?” asks my girlfriend, when I tell her I’m heading to Hotel Chocolat’s boutique hotel in St Lucia. Boucan has been a magnet for chocolate lovers and foodies since it opened its doors in 2012, but it’s not just the sweet stuff that’s been attracting people to stay at this sexily stylish hideaway. Nestled on the side of a mountain 300 metres above the Caribbean Sea, with jaw-dropping views of the island’s iconic Piton Mountains, Boucan’s 14 luxurious lodges are set on Rabot Estate, a 140-acre cocoa plantation, just a short hop from one of St Lucia’s most beautiful beaches and pristine stretches of coral reef.
Hotel Chocolat’s Executive Chef, Jon Bentham, has designed an innovative Anglo-St-Lucian menu, subtly and imaginatively incorporating the cacao (cocoa) grown on the Estate. Rich, nutty cacao bean ‘nibs’ or shavings are used as a spice or infusion in dishes like Crisp Cacao Goat’s Cheese, the coconut-spiked Ground Provision Hot Pot with Cocoa Flatbread and a tropically tasty Cacao Crème Brûlée with papaya-mango jelly. In the bar, the juicy, sweet pulp from the cocoa pods add a tropical tang to Fresh Cacao Martinis and Bellinis. The food is unique, exciting and light, and far from leaving me feeling like an over-indulged Augustus Gloop, the natural stimulants, vitamins and minerals in the cocoa genuinely give a feel-good, fitness boost.
Hotel Chocolat has harnessed the power of cocoa in its wellness and beauty offerings, too. Pampering takes place in the sanctuary of the Cocoa Juvenate Spa, with cacao-infused oils and creams, rich in anti-oxidants, that clear the mind and energise the body. Of course the location helps with the happy vibes. Without being too hippy la-la about it, gazing up at the soaring, forest-covered Pitons while floating in Club Boucan’s stunning infinity pool is an almost spiritual experience.
After a few days here, I think I may be addicted. And not just to the chocolate...
HOW TO GET THERE
Boucan’s Lodges start at $400 per night and Luxe Lodges at $650 per night, including breakfast and VAT. Treatments at Cocoa Juvenate Spa start from $60. British Airways runs 13 direct flights a week from Gatwick to St Lucia's Hewanorra International Airport, 30 minutes from Boucan. To make a reservation, click here and for more on St Lucia, go to www.stlucia.org Hotel Chocolat is opening two new restaurants in the UK this month. Rabot 1745 opened on 14th November in London's Borough Market, and Roast & Conch opened in Leeds on 21st November.
Words: Lauren Jarvis.