Cap Maison

near Castries, St Lucia Book from

Reviewed by Viv Monahan
Fun, funky and sociable north-coast resort with 49 rooms, a divinely inspired chef and a real holiday feel
Until recently, St Lucia’s north-west coastal strip has been known for its all-inclusive complexes, shared ownership homes and duty-free shops. Cap Maison reverses the trend. Set in lush tropical gardens within Cap Estate, a former 1,500 acre sugar plantation 5 km outside Rodney Bay, this elegant boutique hotel marks a real return to the romantic Caribbean landmark hotels of bygone decades, but with a funkier feel and a healthy smattering of British irony.

The mood is sociable - it’s somewhere where guests can mix and make friends, and point out frigate birds and Martinique in the distance - but it caters to romantic seclusion too, and is popular with honeymooners and those looking to propose in style. It’s a dress-up-for-dinner kind of place, a cocktail place, a welcoming-glass-of-champagne kind of a place.

Cap was one of those good ideas thought up after a particularly fine dinner which actually came to pass. Built by the Gobat family to resemble a Castilian village, small blocks of white-walled 2- and 3-storey villas are separated by cool passages with barrelled ceilings, wine cellars, courtyards, pools, Ali Baba urns, lawns and gazebos. The top suites in each are huge and have seductive twists: Jacuzzis, private pools and double loungers on the rooftop that are so cosy we spent a night lying on our backs under the stars, trying to name the constellations.

Highs

  • Rooms range from the smart and simple to the obscenely decadent; splash out on a Villa Suite, some with a pool, a Jacuzzi or a roof terrace
  • Enthusiastic, friendly staff balance respect with camaraderie, an attitude that comes from the top down
  • Sociable, house-party feel (you’ll be invited to meet other guests over drinks)
  • Fab food: Craig Jones, the white Welsh Rastafarian vegetarian chef, is destined for stardom - we loved his West Indian specialities, modern British cooking and healthier-than-thou salads
  • Lovely spa offering luxurious treatments; i-escape guests receive a complimentary 30-minute welcome massage!

Lows

  • The Moorish design of the hotel won’t appeal to those looking for gingerbread cottages
  • A few suites are less private than others; choose one of the more secluded rooms - or keep the shutters closed!
  • The 42 steps up from the small beach (which has tawny sand) make this place unsuitable for those with walking difficulties or disabilities
  • Noise can bounce around the outside walls, although fences and lush landscaping ensure privacy for all

Best time to go

Cap Maison is just a hop and a skip from the Beausejour Cricket Ground (fixtures are published here), and close to two venues for the annual Jazz Festival, which is usually held in May. It’s dry and hot from October to April but prices are lower in the rainy season, when short torrential showers can happen (and dry up again) any time.

Our top tips

We loved the contrast between the north and south of St Lucia. An ideal luxury-on-tap holiday for us would be a week at Cap Maison followed by a week in Soufriere.

Great for...

Family
Foodie
Honeymoon
Spa
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Resort
  • 49
  • Restaurants and bars (+ self-catering)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Tennis Court
  • Bicycles Available
Room:

Rooms

The 3-storey white-washed villas are split into a variety of rooms and suites, which jigsaw together. All are airy variations on the theme of creamy walls, cool floors and louvred shutters, and they have enough electronic gadgetry to satisfy the most demanding techno-freak (iPod docks, satellite TVs, WiFi).

On the ground floors, Garden Rooms are the cheapest offering, but still very comfortable with kingsize or twin beds, pretty balconies (with garden views) and hand-painted tiled bathrooms with showers, a double vanity unit and Acqua di Parma toiletries. Junior Suites are slightly bigger, with a daybed and larger balcony; some have outdoor showers, too.

Up above, the Villa Suites come in 3 sizes: huge, gargantuan and 'where did I last see my other half?'. All have big living/dining areas, kitchens, powder rooms and generous balconies with sea views. Our absolute favourites were the split-level Villa Suites with Jacuzzi. These have traditional West Indian four-poster beds, and gorgeous terraces with jacuzzis (Numbers 20 and 32 have rooftop terraces). Numbers 32 and 33 are built at the very edge of the resort so they’re the most private of all and echo magically with the sounds of the waves.

Up another notch, the Villa Suites with Pool each have their own pool in the garden or on a private riad-style roof terrace (none private enough for skinny dipping though). The hotel’s layout means that these enormous one-bedroomed suites can be linked, making them ideal for families or up to 3 couples travelling together. Their living accommodation includes a sitting room with a formal dining area, a full kitchen and (at least) 2 verandas. The ultimate suites (Villas Suites with Pool and Roof Terrace) have their own rooftop verandas which cry out for sociable sundowners, their own wet bars (so you don’t have to go downstairs for ice), plus double loungers and shady seating areas. Our pick of these would be Numbers 22, 28 48 and 50, which are the most private.

Some of the rooms and suites can connect to create 2 Bedroom Villa Suites, 2 Bedroom Villa Suites with Pool and 2 Bedroom Villa Suites with Pool and Roof terrace - the perfect family retreat. It is possible to book a group of 3 rooms, request on enquiry. Note that children under 12 are not allowed in the Villa Suites with Pool or the Villa Suites with Pool and Roof Terrace for safety reasons.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Cd player
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Ipod dock
  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Toiletries
  • Tv
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

We loved the food at Cliff at Cap restaurant. Loved it. Especially ‘Caribbean night’, which might have been one of those embarrassing buffets demanding compulsory elastic waistbands but wasn’t. There were delicious salads (saltfish and green fig, organic leaves), plus pepperpot stew, jerk pork with perfectly crispy crackling, cheesy sweet potato pie, delicate mousses and jellies and fruit.

For the rest of the week, the stilted restaurant is more refined. Craig Jones may not be a celebrity chef yet, but someone will already have marked his card. Ingredients are top-notch and treated with respect: try the Kobe short rib with sweet potato rosti, or honeyed pumpkin risotto which is a proper, delicious main and not just a token nod to vegetarians. Finish with something decadent like the passion fruit soufflé or white chocolate ice cream. Diet later.

But certainly not at breakfast. As well as the usual West Indies buffet (mango slices, crispy streaky bacon with maple syrup and eggs), we discovered carrot and coconut muffins, fresh tamarind juice, and (nervously at first, but gaining confidence with each mouthful), smoked herring with cucumber salad and fried plantains.

For special occasions, ask for a table on Rock Maison, the wooden-deck extension of the restaurant that's set down in the sea. Drinks are 'zip-lined' down; pretty impressive for a flamboyant champagne moment.

You can get delicious tapas at the Cliff Bar (think yellow fin tuna sashimi, jumbo scallops with foie gras, or spider crab souffle). Down in Smuggler's Cover is The Naked Fisherman, open from 10am each day, they feature an extensive drinks menu, as well as lunch and dinner menus, featuring fresh seafood dishes such as lobster and mussels.

The suites are all kitted out for self-catering, with generous well-equipped kitchens and dining areas. Most guests just use these for lunches and snacks; the hotel offers a shopping service for groceries, or a range of fridge packages (the Indulgence, the Healthy etc).

If you fancy a change of scene, head into Rodney Bay, a 5-minute cab journey. We tried a few of the restaurants there and can highly recommend The Edge, Spinnaker's and The CoalPot.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Children meals
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating: <i>The Naked Fisherman</i>
Activity:

Activities

  • Lie by the 2 pools and dream, or wander down the 42 steps to the sandy beach for a refreshing sea dip

  • Borrow Hobi cats, kayaks, snorkelling gear and windsurfers from the beach club (no charge)

  • Recuperate at Spa Maison with a marine salt scrub, a mineral mud mask, then a massage using citrus essential oils

  • Charter the handsome 46’ Cap Maison I for a lunchtime trip over to Martinique, an afternoon's cruising past the Pitons and rainforest, or for a 3-day cruise through the turquoise Grenadines

  • Photograph little blue herons, hummingbirds, magnificent frigate birds, broadwinged hawks, mocking birds and even ospreys on the estate

  • Play golf (concessions are offered) at the nearby championship course at St Lucia Golf & Country Club

  • See the rainforest from above - the latest craze in St Lucia is zip-lining above the tree canopy; reception can arrange trips

  • For those truly kitsch celebratory moments, have champagne (or flowers, or diamonds) ‘zip-lined’ down to the private dining deck Rock Maison. This private deck is sometimes used for yoga courses, too

  • If you're feeling energetic, borrow a bike, have a game of tennis on the hotel court or join the Cap Maison Running and Hiking Club and tone up with a guide on the remote beaches of the dramatic Atlantic coast 10 minutes away

  • The hotel can arrange kitesurfing and deep-sea fishing trips

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Horse-riding
  • Kayaking
  • Kitesurfing
  • Picnics
  • Sailing
  • Scuba diving
  • Scuba diving courses
  • Shopping / markets
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Tennis coaching
  • Well being
  • Windsurfing
  • Yoga
  • Ziplining

Kids

Children are welcome. Under 12s stay/eat for free when sharing a room/meal with parents; extra beds and baby cots can be provided, and babysitting arranged.

Older children will love the swimming and (non-motorised) water sports at Cap and, if they’re into nature, there’s a wonderful range of birds to spot and they can head into the rainforest to go ziplining.

Although younger kids are welcome (and there's lots of baby and toddler equipment available), we don’t think Cap Maison’s the right place for toddlers. There are numerous opportunities for falling down steps and into unguarded pools, and there’s precious little shade at the beach so we think the over-3s will best enjoy themselves here. And unless they’re ultra-well-behaved, you might also be embarrassed by the amplification offered by the courtyard walls.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

Various rooms and suites can connect creating the 2 Bedroom Villa Suites, 2 Bedroom Villa Suites with Pool and 2 Bedroom Villa Suites with Pool and Roof Terrace. It is possible to book a group of 3 connecting rooms; enquire when booking. All villas have a washer and dryer, which is useful for families

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cots and bedding
  • High chairs
  • Plastic crockery and cutlery
  • Baby bath
  • Changing mat
  • Black out blinds
  • Potty
  • Kitchen can assist with pureeing food and bottle warming

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Creche/Kid's Club:

Family Time Kids Club for 3-11 year olds operational 1 July - early-September every year

Children's meals:

All villas have full kitchens, which is great for storing drinks and snacks. You can also pre-order fridge packages when booking. There's also a good kids menu in the restaurant, which has a wide variety of dishes to choose from such as mini-burgers, chicken curry, mini pizzas, pasta, and fish fillet, whereas desserts include banana split and tropical fruit

Kids Activities on site:

  • Choice of swimming pools
  • Secluded beach
  • Non-motorised watersports

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Zip-lining
  • Rainforest tram ride
  • Horse riding
  • Rodney Bay
  • Birdwatching on jungle treks
  • Kite surfing

Families Should Know:

Children under 12 are not allowed in the Villa Suites with Pool or the Villa Suites with Pool and Roof Terrace for safety reasons

Distances:

  • Airport: 90 minutes
  • Hospital: 6 minutes
  • Shops: 6 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

6/
Rooms
8/
Food
8/
Service
6/
Value
7/
Overall

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Rates for Cap Maison