While it's a sunny 39F today, winter is still not over.  If the predictions of the Farmer's Almanac prove right, we're going to have a icy March or April, and the early daffodils, crocuses and cherry-blossom buds will perhaps regret their eagerness.  It seems that every year, we experience this period of a false spring, and yet we lap it up after the grey days of December and January.  The astute among us have saved vacation-days and mileage credits, and will invariably head for warmer climes of which the Caribbean islands and South American countries figure prominently as bastions of warmth and sunny splendor.  And tiny St Lucia may just be the brightest gem of them all.

Lonely Planet (blog) writes ' rising like an emerald tooth from the flat Caribbean Sea, St Lucia definitely grabs your attention . . . The rain forest-choked interior is made for hiking; a canopy of green covers the island like a haze.  Rolling hills grow to form volcanic mountains and reach to the sky.  The iconic Pitons rise from the waves to the clouds like pyramids of volcanic stone . . . St Lucia has a pulse.  Your senses are bombarded with sights, smells and sounds of an island that's truly alive . . . Towns like Castries move and shake to the sound of car horns, the smells of rotis fresh from the oven and reggae blaring on the speaker . . . There is great scuba diving to be found under the waves and the sailing is top notch.' Velvet Escape (blog) similarly raved about St Lucia, especially ' the southern part of the island features dramatic scenery that includes the Pitons . . . {and} the lovely Diamond Botanical Gardens.' Top Drawer Holidays (UK) on its selection of Hotel Chocolat, called it the perfect holiday spot; ' what could me a more perfect holiday for the chocoholics amongst us than to stay at Hotel Chocolate in St Lucia?  Set in the grounds of a beautiful 18th century cocoa estate, the luxurious Hotel Chocolate is Saint Lucia's newest boutique hotel and a must-visit for all lovers of chocolate.  The 140-acre Rabot Estate, dating back to 1745, is the oldest on Saint Lucia, but the accommodation is stylish and contemporary, and the hotel's Engaged Ethics Programme is helping to revitalise the island's cocoa industry. '

Besides exemplary service and the newly refurbished Boucan Restaurant which offers an extensive array of scrumptious delights, Hotel Chocolat which is affiliated with the Rabot Estate, a cocoa growing plantation, is a staunch advocate of Engaged Ethics.  This means that cocoa farmers in St Lucia receive 30-40% above the world market price, and are paid quickly after the sale of produce.  Additionally, advice and technical expertise is offered in order to increase production and ensure quality. Native St Lucians are hired to work on the estate as engineers, drivers, support staff, tour guides.  ' At Hotel Chocolat/the Rabot Estate we believe in putting back into the local economy and empowering the folks whose livelihood is tied to growing cocoa.  The existing industry model for the global chocolate industry is to buy only the commodity crop from the developing nation and then to add all the chocolate-making value to it back in Europe or the US. Our initiative {the Engaged Ethics Initiative} turns industry practise on its head and creates a more even distribution of benefits from those who love fine chocolate to those who actually grow it, ' said spokesperson Judy Buckley.  Admirable, especially in today's economic climate and as of late, the increase in questionable business-ethics.

Folks, if you haven't yet firmed your holiday plans, then head for paradise at Hotel Chocolat in St Lucia (  In addition to feeling different -- better, you'll also be making a difference!


PS:  Tonight's soundtrack is Grace Jones' Pull Up To The Bumper. 



carlos house said…
interesting blogg and amazing destination !!

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