Sunday, January 2, 2011

Honeymoon - Where We Stayed

Day Twenty-Two of Reverb is about Travel.  And I've been meaning to start our honeymoon recaps.  So...what better time than now?  I'll have to break this down into a couple of posts, and it may seem a bit scattered.  Forgive me.  I'll try to start off first with just describing the resort, then I'll tell you about what we did.  Then I'll go back and review everything. 

If you remember, we chose to go to Sandals Halcyon Beach, in St. Lucia.  It seemed to be everything we were looking for - quiet, serene, intimate - and it got good reviews on Travel Zoo and Trip Advisor.  We left the Tuesday after our wedding.  We didn't want to feel rushed after the hustle of the wedding, so we decided to wait a couple of days.  I'm really glad we did that, and if you can afford the time off from work, I highly recommend it.  Plus, flights are cheaper in the middle of the week.  We booked our stay for Tuesday through the following Thursday.  Again, on the back end, we wanted to give ourselves time to settle back into "life" before having to start back at work.

When we arrived in St. Lucia, they took everyone off the plane and put us in this big long snaking line to get through customs.  Which was fine - that's to be expected pretty much anywhere.  Once you got through customs, you went to find your luggage, and headed outside where there was total chaos.  I mean, complete and utter chaos.  You basically had to follow the crowd, find your resort name, and then wait to be told what to do.  Matt stayed with the luggage while I got in line, and stood there for a few minutes before I realized that I was in line for Sandals Grande St. Lucian.  I could skip the big long line and get our transport vouchers right away.  So I did that and we were hustled onto the bus going to the Halcyon.  There were 3 other couples on our bus.  We were not a chatty group.  In fact, 2 of the couples fell asleep on the drive there.  I dozed a bit, myself.  It's a long drive - about 1.5 hours from Hewanorra International, in the south, to the resorts in the north.  And it was a windy drive up and down the mountains.  Not for the weak-stomached, that's for sure.  I have a stomach of steel but even I was starting to feel a little woozy by the time we finally arrived at the resort. 

We pulled up and were ushered into the piano bar, where they gave everyone a glass of champagne, a cool towel, and a welcome envelope, which included our room keys, resort passes, and a map.  After that, we were escorted to our rooms.  One by one, the bell staff dropped us and our luggage off at our respective rooms.  Our room was simple, but nice.  High ceiling, island decor...pretty much what we expected.  It had a huge balcony that was partially covered by some flowering vines.  The balcony had a small cafe table and chairs.  There was a safe in the closet.  And the fridge was stocked daily with soda and water.  By the end of the trip, the housekeeping staff must've noticed that we weren't touching the Cokes and switched them out for what we were drinking - water and Sprite.  That was nice.  The bathroom was big, but the slat door offered absolutely no privacy - if you're at all "potty-shy," be prepared to ask your spouse to leave the room, or at least go on the balcony, cuz they'll hear everything if they're in the main room.  Just sayin. 

From the balcony
From the entrance
Our balcony offered a great view of the gardens.  You could kind of see the ocean, if you looked hard through the trees.  That was kind of disappointing, since we'd paid for the oceanview "upgrade" but the gardens were beautiful.  We were kind of off to one side of the resort, but also sort of smack in the middle of it.  The beach and beach bar were about 100 yards in front of us, the main pool (the Sunset pool) and all the restaurants were about 300 yards to the right, and the smaller pool (the Paradise pool) was about 100 yards behind us.  Plus, much of the walk from our room to the main entrance/lobby was either covered or heavily shaded, so when it rained, we stayed relatively dry.

View from the balcony
View from the door
Halcyon has three restaurants, plus the beach bar.  The beach bar is open from 11am-6pm, closes up shop for a while, then re-opens from 10pm-3am (I think).  For lunch or early dinner, they serve your basic beach bar stuff - hamburgers, pizzas, salads, etc.  For late-night, you can get help-yourself nachos and fries.  Each bar serves pretty much any mixed drink you could want, and they (of course) have their own menu full of signature drinks.  They also have 2 beers on tap: Heinekken (yuck) or Piton, which is a local light lager, much like a Heinekken, only without the skunky taste.  The beach itself is kind of...meh.  Not many people actually swam in the ocean, and few even hung out on the beach.  Most people stuck to the pools. 

First Piton at the Beach bar
The three other restaurants are all right in the same vicinity.  All clustered around the main pool, there is the casual Bayside restaurant, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner; the Pier Restaurant, which serves only dinner; and Mario's, which is the "fancy" place and also serves only dinner.  Also right there is the Irie bar and the Mirage, which is kind of like the activities center of the resort.  

Sunset pool and bar
Mario's restaurant
The Pier restaurant
Inside the Mirage
The Irie bar
If you walk through the Sunset pool area, you'll reach the other side of the resort, which is where the "oceanview walkout" rooms are, and you eventually reach the water activities area, where you can take out a small sailboat or a hydrobike. 

One of the two chessboards
Watersports area
Back behind our room was the Paradise pool.  That's where you go when you really just want to relax.  There are no games at the Paradise pool, and the music is played at a nice, low level.  There is a swim up bar, and several hammocks scattered around.  It's also where they serve afternoon tea (there are a lot of people from the UK here!).

Paradise pool
The resort grounds are really quite pretty.  It is all basically buildings tucked in among these very lush gardens.  Lots of hibiscus and plumeria blooming - it smells fantastic.  Scattered around the resort there are a couple life-size chess boards, shuffleboard courts (is that a court?), and dart boards.  The lobby is open, and across the parking lot is the gift shop, where you can find everything from t-shirts to keychains to bandaids.  Of course, they charge an obscene amount of money for these things (Um, I'm sorry, $30 for a bottle of sunscreen?  Really?!), so be prepared.  But, they also make you put $600 down for incidental charges, like purchases in the gift shop or photo shop or using the laptops from the front desk.  [Yes, they charge for that]  If you don't spend that much, obviously, you get it back.  But once you know it's "spent..." why not?  Ya know?

So anyway.  That's the resort.  Next up, I'll tell you about what we did.

1 comment:

  1. The resort looks gorgeous, but you're right--that's not really an "oceanview" room! Still pretty though :)