Stonefield Villa Resort: A Private Rainforest Retreat
By Geri Bain
We fell asleep to the chirping of tree frogs under a canopy of stars that filled the night sky in a way usually only seen in the most isolated of places. And remote certainly describes the feeling at Stonefield Villa Resort, despite its being within a short drive from some of Saint Lucia’s best known national parks. Its 17 villas sit high in the rainforest on the grounds of a former cocoa plantation and estate. The resort is still owned and run by a local family with a vision of maintaining its local flavor and ambience, resort manager Paul Clauzel told us. “Each bungalow was strategically placed for views and privacy.” All except one garden villa have private pools and outdoor living areas with dreamy views of the Caribbean and Petit Piton, one of the island’s iconic twin peaks.
Unlike some of the “open-wall” luxury resort villas on the island, Stonefield’s are air-conditioned—a must for my husband and me on an island where heat and mosquitos are not unknown. Our four-poster bed was atmospherically draped with mosquito-netting, and we loved the outdoor shower room, which had its own mini garden. Inside, vases of fresh tropical flowers from the grounds set on our dining and side tables added a caring touch, and outside, our “yard” was a natural greenhouse of tropical plants.
We loved our private pool and outdoor living area and left the wooden louvers of our doors and windows in the open position so we could awaken with the sun each day, By 6 a.m., we‘d slip into our pool, watching the interplay of cloud puffs and sun on the slopes of Petit Piton and the sea. Sometimes a colorful fishing boat would glide along the coastline. When we were ready, we’d head to the Mango Tree restaurant for a (complimentary) breakfast, where Anica, our waitress, was quick to remember our preferences.
At the Mango Tree restaurant, St. Lucia-inspired recipes pair produce grown on the resort grounds with locally caught fish to create dishes like a cooked-to-perfection red snapper with sweet potato mash and vegetables, and mille feuille of pumpkin and eggplant in a green papaya sauce. Fresh breads come with a choice of homemade jams and the savory pumpkin soup was a stand-out. Special wellness dishes featuring nutrient-rich dasheen (a.k.a. taro) and other local veggies, delightfully spiced and surprisingly delicious. Deserts included sour-sop ice cream and a creamy, cheese-free avocado cheesecake. The resort also reflects its history as a cocoa plantation with delicious (non-sweet) cocoa “tea” and a once-weekly menu of cocoa-infused dishes.
We were the only guests on a tour of the resort’s garden, which supplies most of the vegetables, fruits and herbs used by the resort. Our guide, Andre “Pancho” de Caires, who has a degree in horticulture from Canada and decades on the island, had us crumble and sniff leaves and told us which were used as cures. He also took us to a pre-Columbian, Amerindian petroglyph site, “perhaps a sacred fertility site,” he conjectured, pointing to a “birthing stone” that looked up at Petit Piton, “one of the volcanic cones that gave birth to the island.” A second petroglyph was obviously parents and a child. He said guests have reported conceiving after touching the stones here. It certainly felt mystical—so maybe it’s true!
While the world felt far away as we looked out from our villa, we were just minutes from some of the Saint Lucia’s most popular activities including hiking trails, ziplines, natural mud baths, fishing villages, and an underwater nature preserve. A handful of crafts shops and restaurants also beckon in the town of Soufrière, just a mile a way. Daily free shuttles run to Malgretoute beach — a steep 20-minute walk — at the base of the mountain. Guests receive a phone at check-in for use around the resort and the island — ideal if you’ve walked to town or the beach and want the resort to send a taxi to bring you back.
On most days, there’s an activity onsite, from the weekly sunset catamaran cruise to a cooking demonstration to live local bands. We most enjoyed a local reggae band that played a lot of our favorites at a volume that still allowed for conversation. Also on tap is a full-service spa with signature treatments using both imported and locally-sourced products and a fitness center with yoga classes on an outdoor terrace or in your villa. For us, our villa terrace was a magical setting for a yoga class. And as with everyone we encountered at Stonefield Villas, our teacher, Kez, was professional and caring. Now, when I practice yoga, I picture myself in Saint Lucia, looking out at the sea from my rain forest perch. It’s now my happy place.
For more information, contact www.stonefieldresort.com
Geri Bain, a widely published travel writer and editor, is the co-author of The Complete Guide to Vow Renewals, released in December 2018. She has written about more than 60 countries and contributed to publications including inc.com, about.com, N.Y. Daily News and Robb Report. While travel editor at Modern Bride magazine, she wrote an acclaimed guide to Honeymoons and Weddings Away. She is a past president of the New York Travel Writers Association and former editorial director of Endless Vacation magazine.