Nick Troubetzkoy, a young Canadian architect, stumbled upon a charming island hotel and purchased it. Renovations, additions, improvements—that’s what architects do—until there is no place to go but up. And adjacent to the property stood this perfectly beautiful mountain—virginal territory—waiting to be conquered. Veni Vidi Vici.
It begins at the tiny airport in Soufriere, St. Lucia. Clearly they employ the island’s charmers to drive guests to the hotel. The bucolic countryside unfolds before us, punctuated by pockets of colourful shops and cafes. Jade Mountain embraces a mountaintop, and overlooks the spectacular twin Pitons, a UNESCO world heritage site. While Nick is the architect, resort chairman and builder, his wife Karolin is the property’s executive director. A hands-on, dynamic woman, she is the one who sees to it that luxury, good taste and finesse never falter.
The Major Domo is happy to see me. “You could have gone anywhere in the world,” he beams, “and yet, you came here to be with us.” The Major Domos are all graduates of the prestigious Guild of Professional English Butlers, and they are trained to anticipate and cater to our every need. He escorts me along the individual bridges and opens the door to my own Sanctuary. Can this be real? An open fourth wall reveals a stunning visual effect. Lush green mountains, placid blue water of the Caribbean Sea and an occasional sailboat adds to the pristine view.
Extravagance and natural elements make this accommodation a true sanctuary. Roll out of the sumptuous four-poster bed, sheerly curtained against flying intruders, and step into the infinity pool that seems to float out into nature. I make a snap decision—no need to ever leave my sanctuary—except for dinner or another extraordinary purpose. I will pass on early morning yoga on the beach and eschew zip lining in the lush tropical surroundings. I will leave it for others to windsurf, snorkel, kayak, go sailing or partake of a jazz sunset cruise aboard a catamaran. These few days in a spiritual paradise will be a quiet restorative for my soul.
An extraordinary purpose presents itself in an invitation from Executive Chef Jonathon Dearden to visit the Troubetzkoy’s organic rain forest farm, the Emerald Estate, in the Soufriere hills. I’ve come in the middle of the Spices of the Caribbean Festival, held annually in mid-December. With consulting chef Allen Susser of Miami, they have built a farm from which they source their own ingredients, such as cashews and almonds, turmeric, tamarind, avocado, coconuts, sweet potatoes and other indigenous exotic fruits. This is a rare “walking and tasting tour” indeed.
Relationships with local fishermen give guests sustainable fish from pristine waters. We are the beneficiaries of “Jade Cuisine,” a tropical fusion of local cultures in a sweet, spicy and aromatic harmony. Then the cooking begins with Chef Susser’s cooking classes, which include Spice Jerk Cooking, a morning Spice Workshop and a specially prepared five-course dinner spectacular.
My Major Domo delivers the Spicy Breakfast in Bed and sets it on my terrace table. The local birds are well rehearsed and, on cue, the moment I leave my chair to relax on my comfy infinity poolside lounge, they arrive to feast on the leftovers. Later, I will enjoy the Jungle Burger Bash, lunch on the private beach at the Jungle Grill at the farm.
Enter the enchanting Jade Mountain Club dining room at sunset for special Island cocktails and dine on lobster-crusted snapper with vegetables pulled from the garden hours ago; jerk-grilled shrimp satay and charcoal grilled steak. If you have never tried (or heard of) a fish called Wahoo, it comes roasted with tarragon and partnered with chorizo/crab-stuffed hearts of palm and shrimp bisque. Chocolate lovers rejoice at the serious chocolate spectaculars from the cocoa plantation Anse Mamin, part of the Jade Mountain estate.
One could actually just leave work and get on a plane to Jade Mountain. Boutiques in the hotel have all the stuff you need for a holiday: swimsuits, sandals and resort wear. A few days here will work magic. Live. Do it.
Sara Waxman is an award-winning restaurant critic, best-selling cookbook author, food and travel journalist and has eaten her way through much of the free world for four decades, while writing about it in books, newspapers and magazines. She is the Editor in Chief of DINE and Destinations magazine.