In the words of Maria Von Trapp, “let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start”. I was wondering where to begin on writing about our wonderful holiday to St Lucia and then the wise old words of Maria sprang to mind. So this first post is about our arrival in St Lucia, and our stay at Boucan by Hotel Chocolat in Soufriere.
When I was booking the holiday as a surprise for Tim’s 30th, I wanted it to have two elements – both relaxing and adventurous. Boucan certainly fit the bill for the latter (and even the former, to a degree!) Boucan is a small luxury hotel owned by world renowned chocolatiers Hotel Chocolat, on the South-West of the island in Soufriere. Boucan is set among the rainforest, on St Lucia’s oldest chocolate plantation, the Rabot Estate.
When you think of St Lucia, you might think of the two big ‘mountains’ that you see in all of the photos, known as the pitons. Well this hotel overlooked them both – you couldn’t have got a more perfect view. We actually hiked the Gros Piton which I’ll be doing a whole other blog post about, as it definitely warrants it!
On arrival at Boucan, we were greeted by the lovely manager (originally from Wales!) who welcomed us and gave us a cocktail of our choice. We had most definitely arrived! I just loved the rustic yet modern look of the hotel, with the restaurant overlooking the Petit Piton.
Directly below the restaurant was the sunbathing area, with a gorgeous infinity pool. I thought the photos I’d seen online of the piton reflected in the calm water was probably exaggerated but it really was as beautiful in reality (if a little chilly, as it wasn’t heated!!)
All of the 14 rooms are in the form of individual lodges, and we were staying in a luxury lodge which was slightly elevated and therefore had an even more amazing view. I think it was possibly one of the best and unique rooms I’ve ever stayed in – the bathroom was huge, with an open topped rainforest shower. The bedroom was even bigger, with plenty of storage space, opening out onto a large balcony with sun beds and a bar area.
A bottle of sparkling wine was awaiting us on ice, as well as a complimentary bottle of rum punch. The bar and fridge was stocked with Kilner jars of nuts, home made cookies and dark chocolate from the estate, which was (to my delight!) replenished every day!
When researching the hotel on Trip Advisor, a few people had moaned about the noise (and biting prowess!) of the local insects. I was a little bit concerned about this, so I made sure we were armed with plenty of repellent. However we needn’t have worried – the hotel actually supplied free spray and our four poster bed was covered in a very effective mosquito net – only one cunning little bug managed to sneak it’s way in and I was only bitten a couple of times during our whole stay. And as for complaints about the noise, I think these people need to get a life! I found it so enjoyable to lie in bed listening to the sound of the insects outside – you are staying in a rainforest after all!! The little birds were also adorable (and very confident!) hanging out on our balcony, looking for any opportunity for food!
And so we must talk about the food. The beautiful chocolate infused food! Yes, you read that right! Given the nature of the hotel and its location, most dishes had an element of chocolate in them, as they explain on the front of their menu:
The fresh, tangy cacao pulp – surrounds the beans
can be found in our cocktails, sorbets and ice creams.
The roasted cacao nibs – play a key role as a spice
– an infuser of toasty/nutty flavour.
Our award winning bitter dark Saint Lucian
chocolate – harmoniously balancing dressings, dips and,
of course, our desserts!
Here are some examples of the many dishes we tried:
Carpaccio Rabot – Salted cacao-cured beef tenderloin, 100% pure cacao tuile, shaved parmesan and peppery local organic salad leaves.
Cacao Beer Jerked Tuna – Loin of tuna jerked in cacao beer then rare-seared, sweet potato gnocchi, chilli-balsamic dressing.
Kingfish Ceviche – Kingfish fillet “cooked” in cacao pulp, coconut milk, chilli and lime pickle, served with cacao nib flatbread.
Cacao Tortellini – Handmade with savoury cacao pasta, filled with goat’s cheese and spinach with toasted almonds, butternut squash puree, cacao nib balsamic brown butter
Aberdeen Angus Prime Beef Rib Eye cut – Matured and infused with cacao nibs, local spinach, dauphinoise of local ground provisions, cacao-peppercorn jus.
Creole Fish – Best catch of the day with cacao and creole spices, almond purée, wilted local greens and sweet potatoes.
Rabot Chocolate Lava – Chocolate sponge dome with molten chocolate interior, all made from our estate cacao beans, served with cacao nib-infused ivory-toned ice cream.
The Magnificent Piton – dramatic soft meringue peak, surrounded by estate chocolate soup with sliced bananas, flaked almonds and caramel drizzle.
The breakfast was also lovely, with a fresh fruit platter and ‘smoothie of the day’, fresh muffins and banana bread (without a doubt the best I’ve ever had!) and a choice of eggs, bacon, vegetables and toast. There were also plenty of lighter options such as granola, yoghurt and porridge.
I also made a great discovery in the form of ‘liquid chocolate’. When we were first offered it, I thought they just meant hot chocolate. However I soon learned it was quite literally melted chocolate (and obviously the best quality possible!) with hot milk. It was beautifully rich, I could only ever manage about a third of the glass!
After hiking the Gros Piton, we thought we would treat ourselves to a couples’ massage in the hotel. This took place in the spa lodge and it was so unique to have a relaxing massage with the sound of the birds and insects all around you, and even a little rainforest rain at one point. And as you might have guessed by now, there was even a bit of choccie involved in the massage, as the oils were infused with cocoa, and I chose one which also had some cinnamon in it too, it was divine!
There were some great walks which you could do around the Boucan estate and the surrounding area, all of which were mapped out with details on difficulty levels. We went on a couple, including a trip to the sulphur springs. You might not know, but the Soufriere area is actually part of a volcano, and a 20 minute walk from our hotel brought you to the sulphur springs and mud baths.
The wildlife all around the hotel and the neighbouring areas was just incredible, and I could have spent hours just taking photos of the beautiful plants (and even the occasional goat!)
It was without a doubt one of my favourite hotels I’ve ever stayed in, with so much to do in the area. If you’re thinking of going to St Lucia I really can’t recommend it enough, even if it’s just for a night or two! You can find out more on the website here. Keep an eye out for the rest of my posts on St Lucia, including our experience of ‘Tree to Bar’ chocolate making!