Island life like you have never experienced it before. Hamish Kilburn, editor of Hotel Designs, checks in to Saint Lucia’s top suite, JD1 at Jade Mountain
Words: Hamish Kilburn
Famous for its postcard-perfect views over The Pitons – and popular among celebrities who demand complete privacy – Jade Mountain is St Lucia’s most exclusive luxury hotel. Sheltering just 29 luxury abodes that are all complete with living areas and private infinity pools, each one uniquely designed to harness its own bold personality and style, the hotel’s forward-thinking architecture – most noticeably the removal of the fourth wall – allows guests to re-connect with nature on an unparalleled level. The jewel in the crown is JD1, one of just three Galaxy Sanctuaries that frame the most commanding panoramic views within the hotel.
STYLE & DESIGN
Jade Mountain is the brainchild of architect Nick Troubetzkoy, who under his own admission designed the property as he went along. With a distinct lack of right angles and by removing the fourth wall entirely, the luxury hotel has been created to frame spectacular views of The Pitons – there is nowhere else on the island where you can capture the landscape quite like it. Even the conventional hotel corridor has been addressed. For those checking in to JD1, the hotel journey begins via its very own long, suspended sky bridge that takes guests to the front door of their sanctuary. Despite Troubetzkoy’s lack of initial architectural plans, the hotel has been built purposefully and precisely with the local vernacular in mind. The living areas, for example, in each of the rooms are finished with more than 20 different species of tropical hardwood flooring and trims harvested in an environmentally sustainable way. The infinity pools, which serve as organic components in each suite, have been surfaced with one-of-a-kind glass tiles that take the architect’s vision to offer guests a ‘carefully orchestrated sensory experience’ to new heights.
WHAT'S THE VIBE? The only three ways to arrive at Jade Mountain are by air, by sea or by a cliff-hanging (and somewhat terrifying) road that requires an experienced local driver to navigate. Therefore, it is naturally a private place that has, for that very reason alone, attracted a string of A-listers. And I must say, once you’ve checked in, you will immediately forget all about the turbulent journey in.
Karolin Troubetzkoy, Executive Director of the hotel who is also the former President of the Saint Lucia Hotel Tourism Association, is simply a breath of fresh air, especially when it comes to her stance on LGBTQ+ rights. Unlike certain places in the Caribbean that still hold outdated attitudes, Jade Mountain is passionate about diversifying hospitality worldwide.
In addition, both Jade Mountain and its sister hotel Anse Chastanet that sits underneath (with 79 rooms between them), employ more than 500 staff (99 per cent of them living within 12 miles of the hotel) making them one of the most important employers in the southwest region of the island. And as a result, the vibe is fresh, local and authentically relaxed.
LOCATION There is no greater location to capture The Pitons on Saint Lucia – and with each sanctuary framing superior views of the mountains, there’s little reason to leave your suite. But that would be a mistake, as the hotel is also home to two beautiful, natural and soft sand beaches with an abundance of pristine coral reefs just offshore. What’s more, minted cool spray, towel service, fruit kebabs, and sorbet are all part of the daily beach experience.
Popular among honeymooners, the hotel is, in my opinion, best explored as a couple – and despite it being nestled high above tropical rainforest and with many activities on offer to suit all kinds of travellers, don’t expect to be able to simply stroll into town, as the hotel is remote and difficult (verging on impossible, in fact) to enter or exit by foot.
VIP SERVICES With the ratio between staff to guest being about five to one, Jade Mountain reigns supreme when it comes to personalised service. For starters, each sanctuary has their own personal butler – or Major Domos as they're called. Other services include premium PADI five-star scuba diving, rooftop yoga and even mountain biking.
THE FOOD Despite the hotel’s remote location, Jade Mountain has its very own farm, which is located about 20 minutes away from the resort. Since 2007, Emerald Farm, which guests can visit during their stay, has been growing organic produce – from vegetables, micro greens, salads to fruits, spices, nuts and herbs- for the resort kitchens – under the supervision of consulting chef Allen Susser, taking the farm to table concept to a completely new level. What’s more, the hotel also produces its own chocolate, which is made from the more than 1,000 cocoa trees on the farm.