The World Awaits Travel, LLC
"the educated way to travel"
by Camille Pepe Sperrazza
Chocoholics, unite. This 14-room boutique hotel, opened since 2011, is our dream come true. It's built on a 140-acre chocolate plantation, and everything on the menu of its signature restaurant - Boucan - is infused with chocolate. We no longer have to wait for dessert to enjoy the best part of the meal.
Staying here, or touring the premises, offers an extraordinary opportunity to explore the plantation to learn everything we've always wanted to know about our favorite food. With a guide's assistance, we pluck ripe cocoa pods off the trees. We learn the green ones are ripest, and use a long tool, similar to the window poles used in elementary school, to push or pull them from trees, without doing damage to the crop. The guide expertly splits open the pods so we can suck fruit-like juices from the many pits inside. We view the beans as they ferment inside crates, covered with huge banana leaves. It's all organic here, and the chocolate is shipped to Germany where it is used by Lindt Chocolates, says our guide. His passion for the process, and his pride in the plantation makes the experience all the more enjoyable.
A highlight includes planting our own cocoa trees, labeled with our names, and entered into a database. We're invited to return to the hotel in six months, a year, or longer, to visit our trees, still bearing our names, and hopefully producing lots of cocoa beans.
On a second tour, we create our own chocolate candy bars by stirring fresh cocoa nibs, cocoa butter, and sugar inside heated molcajete-type bowls. We stir for quite a while, then pour the smooth liquid into molds which will be refrigerated and labeled. In about half an hour, the chocolate will be wrapped for us to take home to enjoy (if we can wait that long). We do get to lick the bowls clean, with plastic spoons.
As the candy bars set, we are invited to partake in a gourmet lunch that includes the hotel's signature drink, the chocolate Bellini - champagne infused with cocoa. Or, perhaps a chocolate martini - vodka infused with cocoa. The Boucan is the only restaurant on the premises, and it faces The Pitons, Saint Lucia's famous majestic mountains. Views are breath-taking.
I select a scrumptious salad appetizer of endive, greens, apple slices, and caramelized walnuts, drizzled with a chocolate dressing. Fantastic. This being Saint Lucia, I want a fish entree, and it's served on a cocoa-infused roll. The bread basket is accompanied with chocolate butter and a chocolate dipping sauce. Desserts include the "story of chocolate" - three types of refreshing iced desserts. Another is a chocolate tasting platter of filled chocolate candies and tarts. Hot weather be damned, I order a pot of hot chocolate, and it exceeds all expectations.
Below the restaurant is an infinity pool that reflects the mountain. The shape and coloring remind me of a giant candy bar, but the hotel manager says I am the first to make this observation.
The hotel accommodates 26 guests. Six of the 14 rooms are called The Lodge, and 8 are called Deluxe Lodge. As the name implies, the deluxe rooms are larger, and these rooms contain no fourth wall. Instead, the bed and lounge chairs face the mighty Pitons so guests can enjoy unobstructed beauty. Yet, there is a sliding door for those who prefer to be more enclosed.
The Lodge rooms overlook The Pitons, too, but views are through slated wooden windows. Beds in both room categories are fitted with white netting, for a cocoon-like feel. No rooms are air-conditioned as they rely upon the cool mountain breezes. Bathrooms are lovely, with modern sinks, and open stone walk-in showers that allow natural light to come from the sky. Like many Saint Lucia properties, the terrain is mountainous, and staying at the Deluxe Lodge especially requires climbing many steps. You're in the mountains, but the hotel does provide complimentary shuttle service to a nearby beach. Bring adapters because wiring is 220 volt. The Chocolat Hotel is for those looking for a quiet, intimate getaway.
Before leaving, stock up on quality chocolates and chocolate-infused products for sale. One is a thick chocolate stick so guests can go home and make "chocolate tea" by grating the stick over boiling water or milk, and adding some cinnamon. I'm sold. What took them so long to invent a place like this? I've spent a lifetime dreaming about it.
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This article was accurate when it was written, but everything in life changes. Enjoy the journey!
Copyright: Camille Pepe Sperrazza