Perched high upon a hillside in the rain forest and overlooking the houses that spill down the hillside of the quaint fishing village of Soufriere St. Lucia, is a truly unique little resort called Crystals. Crystals is not just a place to stay, it is an experience. Composed of several quaint and eclectically decorated cottages, most with private pools, this resort is built around the central hub of a tree house bar where guests are invited almost nightly to socialize with the hosts and with each other. This little gem of St. Lucia offers an unforgettable experience of the ‘real’ St. Lucia and is ideal for travelers who want something different, off the beaten path that is private, yet social and affordable.
Crystals is unique for a number of reasons, the first being that it is a labor of love and not heavily advertised. The resort is owned and created by Martin and Monica Crales, a St. Lucia native and an Irish born, English educated lady with experience managing some of the swankiest resorts on the island. It was originally designed as a retreat for family and friends, but ‘caught on’ through word of mouth as one of the best places to stay in Soufriere.
The cottages were painstakingly built by Martin and lovingly decorated with Monica’s whimsical style. Each cottage has a different theme:
The exceedingly romantic Calabash with its Indonesian theme, authentic elephant saddle love seat and private pool with small waterfall fountain just steps away from the kitchen, a sunken bathroom complete with waterfall shower, and a balcony overlooking the town, the famous Pitons and the water, with a tree growing right through the boards is superb!
The Sugar Cane has a clean, cool feel with an upstairs bedroom done in white and comfortable furnishings throughout. It has a nice, large deck area with a good sized pool, all which overlooks the town and the Pitons. The Mango has 2 bedrooms with a pool and lots of views. The Coco Palm has 3 bedrooms and a Jacuzzi. The Papaya has a pool and great views everywhere. There is also a 2 to 3 bedroom villa with a pool. Each cottage has it’s own decor and charm. All are equipped with kitchens, are serviced each day and come with a free St. Lucia style breakfast every morning! All have air conditioning in the main bedrooms.
The grounds are beautifully landscaped and when you drive up for the first time, you will be awed by the tree house bar with a little river that runs under the steps to the upstairs, which is decorated with comical metal sculptures, tropical pictures and and lovely table areas, all under a thatched roof. The grounds are spectacular at night all lit up.
There are a few things to be aware of, as Crystals is not for everyone. The accommodations are spic and span, but they are rustic and very close to nature. Most people will want to open up the doors to the outdoors to experience the rain forest in full and to have easy access to their pool. If you don’t enjoy the rain forest and are afraid of bugs, this is not the place for you, as you will find the wayward bug that has made its way inside. The wildlife gets exuberant at night and can be quite loud. The driveway is notorious, winding through the forest and very, very bumpy. Crystals is located on the side of a mountain up a winding paved road with lots of blind curves where you must honk your horn before you go around a bend and in the rain the road can be quite a challenge. Most of the cottages have balconies built on stilts and some have lots of stairs. If you are afraid of heights or physically challenged, you should carefully consider.
If you want an authentic experience in a rustic and charming environment with privacy, lots of nature and a little adventure, Crystals is perfect for you. If you are the type who wants an Americanized resort behind gates, with shopping and a Starbucks across the street, then go to one of the all inclusives on the north and central parts of the island as you will not be happy staying near Soufriere which is an authentic fishing village and definitely for the more adventurous traveler.
The best part of Crystals though, is the people. Although privacy abounds, the cottages are all clustered around the tree house bar where guests are invited almost nightly for Martin’s famous rain forest rum and musical entertainment. Beware, the stuff tastes like candy, but packs a mean punch and will leave even the hardiest of drinkers on the floor the first night! The drinks are great, but the company is better. Even those who aren’t ‘people persons’ will find themselves looking forward to the nightly parties in the bar. You will meet other guests from all parts of the world. Crystals attracts a very mixed crowd, with travelers from all walks of life. All seem to have one thing in common though: they love adventure and the people seem to blend together effortlessly. Monica and Martin are the perfect hosts, gracious, fascinating and willing to help with any questions you may have. They will even arrange to rent you a jeep before you arrive and have you picked up at the airport, driven to the site and then have a staff member take you into Soufriere for groceries and supplies the first day. They can also arrange tours and host weddings on site.
Crystals is a once in a lifetime experience for those who want a little adventure or a lot and should not missed. There are other, more luxurious resorts in the area, for a lot more money, but none can offer the camaraderie and atmosphere of Crystals. Most will find themselves wanting to go back again and again.
This article was written from the experience of a 1 week stay at the resort.