Caribbean Marketplace 2011 Preview: St Lucia

St Lucia’s travel and tourism industry enjoyed a bumper 2010. After picking up “World’s Leading Honeymoon Destination” at the 2010 World Travel Awards in November, the paradise island rounded off the year by registering one of the strongest growth rates in the Caribbean. The growth in international arrivals reached double figures, according to the latest statistics from the Caribbean Tourism Organization.

2011 has also started in style. Among the many celebrities seeing in the new year on St Lucia was pop sensation Justin Bieber, along with Disney star and his rumoured girlfriend Selena Gomez.

But now the focus turns to 2011 Caribbean Marketplace in Jamaica, with Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation Senator Allen Chastanet leading the St Lucia delegation.

His ministry continues to emphasize the importance of the sector to the island’s socio-economic development. “Tourism will continue to drive our nation’s economy this year and our strong delegation at the premier travel and tourism event represents St Lucia’s intention to retain and enhance our worldwide reputation as a first class destination,” he said.

(St Lucia’s beautiful Laboria Beach)

Included in the St Lucia team is Director of Tourism Louis Lewis. He said: “We are very excited to participate in Caribbean Marketplace for yet another season.”

“Caribbean Marketplace sets the tone for business in the new year, and we are particularly upbeat given the strong advanced bookings our hotels and resorts are reporting for the remainder of the winter season,” said Lewis.

New offerings for 2011

The new year sees a number of improvements to the tourism offerings, including next month’s hotly-anticipated opening of Hotel Chocolat on cocoa plantation, the Rabot Estate.  The aim has been to create an intimate, exclusive place worthy of the stunning setting – where nature and wellbeing come together with style, luxury and, of course, chocolate.

(Cocoa Cotttages at the new Hotel Chocolat, St Lucia)

Guests will stay in one of only 10 Cocoa Pod Cottages, specially designed and built in our own inimitable style – where Hotel Chocolat’s contemporary edge meets a traditional West Indian twist.

The Rainforest Spa at the Jalousie Plantation is also receiving its first guests. The spa features seven tree house treatment rooms tucked amid the lush vegetation and cathedral buttressed trees on the lower slopes of the Petit Piton.

Facilities at the new spa include a couple’s tree-house treatment room, six further multi-use single tree-house treatment rooms, manicure and pedicure room, specialist skin treatment room, a hairdressing salon, an al fresco relaxation area open to the Petit Piton and a special earthen steam room warmed by mineral-rich volcanic spring water.

(The Rainforest Spa at the Jalousie Plantation)

Top Attractions

City Mobi has launched its new mobile guide to all the best entertainment and activities to do in St Lucia.

StLucia.City.Mobi is the latest in this illustrious line up of city guides, with over 800 cities in 200 countries listed. Here is a rundown of some of the best attractions of the island:

Anse Chastanet beach
The bright green hills and views of the Pitons provide a wonderful setting for one of St Lucia’s most admired beaches. The island’s volcanic past is reflected in the ebony sands and the beach is perfect for snorkelling or sheltering under a lush palm tree.

Anse des Pitons
Arguably the most dramatically beautiful beach on the island, it’s set between the famous Pitons making it feel secluded and intimate. The spectacular views alongside the white sands and clear waters add to the sense of paradise.

The Pitons and Mount Gimie
The highest peak is Mount Gimie (3,118 ft) but Saint Lucia’s famous twin peaked mountains are Gros Piton (2,619 ft) and Petit Piton (2,461 ft) - ancient volcanic plugs rising out of the sea on the south-west coast to heights of almost a mile.

Rain Forest
The national rain forest, stretches from one side of the island to the other, sprawling over some 19,000 acres of mountains and valleys covered with lush foliage. Exotic wildlife, giant ferns, wild orchids and the Jacquot, Saint Lucia’s own rare and indigenous parrot, can be found here.  The forestry department offers guided hikes through the rain forest, and there is a seven-mile nature walk.

(St Lucia is an island created for adventure and romance)

Diamond Fall and Mineral Baths
In the South-West of St Lucia, the Diamond Falls come down in six stages through sulphur springs that change the colour of the water to brilliant shades of yellow, green and purple. Adjacent, among the ruins of an original 18th century structure commissioned by Louis XIV, are mineral baths.

Drive-In Volcano
The world’s only “drive-in” volcano is also in Saint Lucia’s South-West. A road leading into the remnant of a volcanic crater, where pools of muddy water bubble and shoot forth steam clouds 50 feet high.

Zip line adventure
The zip line adventure begins at the heart of the rainforest, with a short walk giving you a chance to see the stunning Saint Lucian scenery. After being given equipment, a demonstration and a safety briefing, the adventure will begin! Whooshing along a series of zip lines you’ll reach heights of an impressive 150 feet – certainly not for the faint hearted! In between the zip lines, enjoy an unbeatable view of the rainforest and the animals and plants that inhabit it, allowing the perfect photo opportunity.

(Anse Mamin)

Jungle biking
Bike St Lucia is located in the Anse Mamin Plantation which belongs to the island’s Anse Chastanet resort. Pick from a range of action packed trails and explore the plantation’s tropical vegetation and historical remains dating back to the 18th century. From beginners to the more experienced biker, each route is customised to suit a particular level.

Top hotels

StLucia.City.Mobi is also the one-stop shop for best accommodation in St. Lucia. Top picks include The Body Holiday at LeSport, voted “Caribbean’s Leading Spa Resort” at 2010 World Travel Awards, and Sandals Regency La Toc Golf Resort & Spa.

Caribbean Marketplace, 16-18 January 2011, Montego Bay Convention Centre, Montego Bay, Jamaica