There are two kinds of holiday island it seems: one is the flat, floating pancake with miles of white sand, the other is the small, green mound ringed by lush, hilly coves. If, like me, you prefer the latter, and want mesmerising scenery on your family break, then St Lucia is the island for you.
Overall, the St James’s Club Morgan Bay probably works best for families with older children, who can take full advantage of the variety of free watersports, but our three- and six-year-old both cried when we told them they were flying home!
The hotel is famously luxurious, but, as we’d never visited a place such as this before, we weren’t sure what that actually meant. We knew the rooms would be plush and high-end, but would it be tasteful? I was relieved, then, to arrive in our Ocean View family suite, which was simply lovely. The space had an inviting island feel, and its décor, which was a modern twist on blue-green and palm-tree coloured fabrics with dark furnishings, made us all feel comfortable. We parents even had a room of our own within the suite, with an actual door to separate us from the kids’ sofa sleeper in the lounge.
Something Simon and I realised about ourselves over breakfast one morning, was that simply being on holiday made us incredibly lazy. During the first few days of our stay, we found we couldn’t bring ourselves to do very much at all. Luckily, on any day at St James’s Club Morgan Bay, there are a huge number of activities and lessons, especially for itchy-footed children.
After several mornings of playing in the pool with the kids, I escaped one day for a Pilates session, followed by a group tennis lesson. Simon, not to be outdone, was overjoyed to find four Hobie catamarans sitting on the beach. There are also water-skiing lessons, jet skis, paddle boats and – Ellie’s favorite – the banana-boat ride.
Food: St James’s Club Morgan Bay has no shortage of friendly staff members, who are great with children. Considering it is such a large resort, I was impressed to find waitresses that greeted our girls by their first names at breakfast after only a couple of days. And, whether it’s in the restaurants, at the bar or the watersports shack, there is always someone around to provide prompt service.
Actually getting a dinner reservation; well, that’s a whole different matter. On arrival, we were told that we would dine at The Palm that night, which is the largest, buffet-only restaurant, set back in the resort’s gardens. The next day, we set about securing a table in one of the other three restaurants, only to be told it would be at least three days before we could dine elsewhere. Once we were able to try them all, we could see why they were so popular. Our favourites were Bambou, which served Caribbean-Asian food overlooking the beach, and the very cool Morgan’s Pier, set out over the water. St James’s Club Morgan Bay intends to add another restaurant later this year. Future guests should find it much easier than we did to secure reservations.
The recently renovated kids’ club, situated in a colourful bungalow, proved the perfect place to drop the children off for a couple of hours. On our second afternoon, Ellie announced she wanted to try it out, but three-year-old Charlotte took a little more convincing. But, upon realising Ellie returned from the club not only unharmed, but also with craftwork in hand and strawberry ice-cream around her mouth, she happily trotted off with her big sister the next day. This gave us parents some precious free time, which Simon and I spent lounging in the adults-only pool and enjoying the special couple’s massage at the spa.
Price: Virgin Holidays (0844 557 3859) offers seven-night, all-inclusive packages at the St James Club Morgan Bay, from £1,325 for a family of four in a one-bedroom suite, including flights and transfers.
Getting there: Flights take nine hours and the transfer from the airport is just under an hour.
More information: morganbayresort.com