We just got back last night from spring break in St. Lucia. Three weeks ago, I knew absolutely nothing about this little island nation (even that it was a nation!) but this trip — which came together last minute — was a good one.
The backstory: since we’d done the Disney trip over President’s Day weekend, I assumed we’d do something low-key for spring break. My husband and I had both blocked the days but we thought we might drive to Gettysburg PA, Washington D.C., or places like that. Then we realized we can do all those things as weekend trips. If we had the work days available, maybe we should do something more elaborate. I really didn’t feel like planning anything (planning fatigue!) but reached an agreement with my husband: he would plan spring break, and I would deal with scheduling and bringing our four children to their well-child pediatrician visits.
He did book everything, though he consulted with me a lot — which turned out to be a good thing, because flights for 6 people were hard to come by 2 weeks before Passover/Easter week and he was considering some multi-leg trips that just looked really complicated (e.g. getting to Nevis via Charlotte-St. Kitts-water taxi and then leaving via a long boat ride to St. Maartens). I stressed the direct flight preference we have developed over the years. He went back to the drawing board and found a place called Windjammer Resort in St. Lucia. It ranked well on one of those best-resorts-for-families lists. Jet Blue flew direct to St. Lucia from JFK (technically only 2 hours from our house; apparently someone flies to PHL, but it isn’t frequent). We could get a multi-bedroom villa for a lot less than 2 hotel rooms at some of the other resorts we were looking at (few hotel rooms accommodate 6 people).
So we went for it.
Our two travel days still wound up quite long. On Saturday, we left the house at 7:30 a.m. to drive to JFK. We arrived at 9:30 (sometimes there is no traffic on the Verrazzano! Who knew?) but then the plane was delayed and we didn’t get into the air until 1:30 p.m. It’s 4 hours down to Vieux Fort, St. Lucia. Unfortunately, getting to our resort then required a 1.5 hour trip on windy, mountainous roads up to the calmer side of the island. We finally arrived at 7:30 p.m. (and the trip home took just as long — landing at 5:30 p.m. in JFK on a weekday means you’re battling a lot of traffic to get out of the city).
Happily, upon arriving, we learned that Windjammer is beautiful. All the villas perch on a steep hillside overlooking the ocean. We wound up getting upgraded to a 4-bedroom, 5-bathroom house with its own pool. The views out the windows and from the deck? Stunning (as you can see with the photo accompanying this post!). Of course, being so high up meant that getting to and from the lobby/restaurants/beach involved a system of shuttle busses that careened up and down the one-lane roads. You could walk it but you wouldn’t want to that often. I ran on the narrow roads in the mornings before the heat hit and have now gotten my hill workouts done for the next year. My kids pretended the shuttle bus was a roller coaster, and I’d say the sensation wasn’t far off. The shuttle generally came quickly when summoned so I’d say the experience was more part of the character than being an annoyance.
Highlights: My husband went diving three days while we were there. (Since he was planning the trip, he planned with this in mind!) One day we all went with him and snorkeled, but the 4-year-old got tired really quickly in the water so I wound up sitting on the boat with him for…a while. My two older boys went a second day with my husband, and the 9-year-old actually did a modified dive for kids, and liked it enough that I think he might get certified next year. The report is that the coral and fish are pretty good for the Caribbean.
We got in a lot of beach time. The sheltered swimming area had an aqua trampoline and plenty of fish you could see with goggles. I appreciated the concept of water hammocks though I never wound up sitting in them. Maybe sometime! The kids club was also a highlight (for the kids). Every day the club had a morning session (10-12), an afternoon session (2-4) and then an evening session (6:30 on) with organized activities. The kids did horse back riding one afternoon, and a junior chef contest one morning. The ladies running the club were very enthusiastic, and my 7-year-old in particular would have gone to every single session if we’d let her.
While the views rocked, the food was not particularly memorable (for the adults). It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t something we looked forward to. I suppose this is always a hazard of resorts. We didn’t do the all-inclusive option but I think a lot of resort guests do, and so there’s no real incentive to wow with the food. We needed to feed the kids before sending them to the kids club in the evening, so we always just ate with them, and then my husband and I would have a drink on our balcony together while they were there. I should note that the kids were perfectly happy with the food options. They ate scrambled eggs, banana bread, and bananas for breakfast, and then spaghetti or chicken fingers or pizza for all other meals. My 11-year-old developed a taste for virgin pineapple daiquiris.
The kids had so much fun that they were sad to leave on Thursday. But I have to say that a Sat-Thurs trip has a lot going for it. We came back because I’m singing in a concert tonight (Friday) but it’s also nice to have an at-my-desk work day. People who wanted to schedule calls this week could be given Friday instead of having to go through the I’m-gone-all-this-week rigamarole. I highly recommend this strategy to people who do run their own businesses!
I’m posting a few more photos over at Instagram (@lvanderkam) if you want to see them there!
In other news: Welcome MarieTV viewers! Marie Forleo ran her interview with me this week. We mostly talked about my book Off the Clock, which I hope you will check out! If you want your time management in story form, then I hope you will check out my newest book, Juliet’s School of Possibilities: A Little Story About the Power of Priorities. The Wall Street Journal had a short write-up about that parable this past weekend (sharing a joint review with Gretchen Rubin’s book, Outer Order, Inner Calm, and Mason Currey’s new book on women artists’ daily rituals).
Photo: Not bad for a last minute find!