St. Lucia

Five Must-Shop Caribbean Stores by JetSetSarah

 

JetSetSarah blogs for CheapCaribbean.com

By: JetSetSarah

Got the retail itch? Step away from the three-for-$20 T-shirts and those dreadful knitted caps with the dreadlocks attached! Savvy shoppers bring home authentic Caribbean goods that look good and/or work well, and evoke happy memories every time you look at them. Here are some of my favorite souvenir-snagging spots.

Irie Life, South Hill, Anguilla 

There are T-shirts and then there are T-shirts. Irie Life sells the latter, and wearing one immediately marks you as one of Anguilla’s coolest customers (even the most stylish locals sport them around town). This store is located in South Hill and housed in a hilltop cottage painted red, green and gold. Expect trendy colors (neon Ts are current bestsellers) and styles (hoodies, burn-out textured stretch cotton), with nary a boxy crew-neck in sight.

Irie Life, Anguilla Shopping from CheapCaribbean.com

Shop Smart: Make no mistake; Anguilla is notoriously pricey. Time your trip for the end of the summer, however, when shops are anxious to move leftover merchandise in advance of the winter high season, and you’ll score great deals.

Gallery of West Indian Art, Montego Bay, Jamaica

When I lived in Mo’Bay, this decades-old store secreted in a residential about 10 minutes’ drive from the city, was my go-to for Jamaican and Caribbean art and craft. Montego Bay’s, The Gallery is most famous for its menagerie of multi-colored “spotties,” hand-carved painted wooden animals stippled with white polka dots. But it is also a great find for handmade small furniture pieces and an impressive collection of colorful Cuban canvases. For more about Gallery of West Indian Art, visit them online.

Shop Smart: Don’t leave without a handmade Christmas tree ornament from the store’s year-round collection.

Olé, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Looking for the perfect Panama hat? Make a beeline for Puerto Rico and milliner Guillermo Jeffs’ tiny boutique on Old San Juan’s bustling Fortaleza Street, where you can browse more than 5,000 of them. Toppers start at a very reasonable $50 and rise to a whopping $4,000 for a hand-woven model that takes about two years to make. Whichever you choose, Guillermo will custom-fit the Panama to your head, employing his decades of experience – and a hat block and blow dryer – to ensure the perfect fit. For more information, visit Olé's Facebook Page.

Jamaica Shopping from CheapCaribbean.com

Shop Smart: Ole offers more than 20 colors of hat ribbon to choose from, so instead of falling back on traditional black, get creative!

Mixik, Tulum, Mexico

I fell in love with the hand-carved wooden angels you see at resorts all over Mexico, so I was thrilled to hit pay dirt at this Tulum shop, which has a vast selection of the charming cherubs. It’s also jam-packed with locally crafted gifts, art and accessories you’ll find impossible to resist (or is that just me?)

Shop Smart: Can’t find what you want at the beachfront store? There’s also a larger location in el pueblo. Store can be reached at: 52-984-871-21-36

Zaka, Soufriere, St. Lucia

Simon Gajadhar used to be a shipwright but has clearly found his (ahem) groove as a wood carver and artist. Visit his fret-worked cottage in Soufriere, St. Lucia and you too will be enchanted by the colorful collection of masks and totems, all carved from recycled wood and old telephone poles. For more information about Zaka, visit their website.

St. Lucia Shopping from CheapCaribbean.com

Shop Smart: While the larger masks will set you back hundreds of dollars, prices for smaller pieces start at a very reasonable $20, so you can bring back something for everyone - even that grumpy woman in Accounting).

 

Jet Set Sarah, Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon, is a Caribbean travel expert, award-winning travel journalist, and TV personality. Former executive editor of Caribbean Travel +Life magazine, she ventures to the beach and beyond, sharing the diverse culture, relaxed lifestyle and colorful people of the world’s favorite warm-weather destination. She is also jetsetter-in-chief at JetSetSarah.com, where travel and shopping meet.

 

 

Doctor’s Orders: Take a Vacation and Relax

You’re busy. And you probably think there’s never a good time to take a vacation. But what if it were good for your health and wellbeing? There’s been recent research that’s discovered taking advantage of your vacation days and getting away from life can lead to good health and happiness.

Symptom One: Chronic Stress

We’re not denying that you probably have a lot on your plate. And no matter what your circumstances are, it all adds up to stress. And while it’s probably somewhat unavoidable, that doesn’t mean that you don’t need a few days in a calm, relaxing haven to get you back to square one.

The Cure:

Yes, we’re recommending a trip to Secrets The Vine in Cancun. This 5-star ultra luxury resort is brand new to the Cancun coast. Barely open a few months, Secrets the Vine gives Unlimited-Luxury® a whole new meaning. This is a standard of service and amenities you’ll have access to, which include full all-inclusive dining options, 24-hour room and concierge service, endless access to reservation-free restaurants, bars and lounges, as well as elegantly-appointed suites with world-class amenities and the finest décor.

Cancun Vacations from Cheapcaribbean.com

Now you don't have to chose the pool scape versus the beach view. This infinity pool brings both views together.

Begin your day with a dip in the infinity pool that almost makes you feel as if you’re magically transported into the crystal clear waters of the ocean. Let the pool staff pamper you with an ice-cold signature concoction to keep your palette satisfied. Quite possibly the amenity that takes this resort to the level of ultra luxury is its spa facilities. You’ll want to schedule some time in the 12,580 square feet facility. With a full custom spa menu, including massage, body treatment, hydrotherapy therapy or facials, it’s no wonder that this is the perfect prescription to relieving chronic stress. In fact, researches from the National Institutes of Health have shown, under chronic stress our ability to think through goal-oriented decisions cease. So it’s official – you need a break to clear your mind and preserve your capacity to make good, prosperous decisions. No excuses.

Symptom Two: Exhaustion

As life doesn’t ever seem to slow down or stop, lack of sleep and the feeling of exhaustion have probably become an often occurrence, right? Well, you don’t need a doctor to tell you that that’s not good for you. As creatures of habit, avoiding a quality 7-8 hours of sleep can become the norm. But by shaking up your routine and spending a week getting the proper sleep, our bodies are able to enter a state of complete relaxation versus taking on that struggle at home.

The Cure:

Introducing Anse Chastanet in St. Lucia. This 4-star resort is the only property with the iconic view of both the Piti and Gros Piton Mountains. It sits on 600 lush tropical acres and maintains its privacy with 49 rooms that share a remotely peaceful view of either the mountains, the beach or both. If you’re not able to get your eight hours of sleep here, we’d be shocked.

St. Lucia Vacations from Cheapcaribbean.com

Escape into this complete paradise with a view juggling a mountainscape and crystal clear ocean view.

Spend your days exploring the beach that’s merely footsteps away, snorkel and scuba dive, as well as go jungle mountainbiking and hiking. You’ll also want to find your way to forest to hear the nocturnal tree-frog chorus and the opportunity to be one with nature. After, stop for a lounge in a hammock on the 250-yard beach fully equipped with tan/gray volcanic sand resting on stone clear waters. There’s also four restaurants and three bars to pick from where dishes and drinks are prepared with herbs and produce grown in the resort’s own gardens on the former sugar and cocoa plantation of Anse Mamin. Sleep and a complete private state of relaxation are commonalities at this top-of-the-line resort . There’s no denying this is the perfect dose of medication.

Symptom Three: Temporary Insanity

It’s so incredibly easy to get tied up with the every day. Sometimes we all want to just throw in the towel and offer a plea of “insanity” in the game called life. But besides the obvious of taking an actual vacation and escaping reality for a few days, the time leading up to your vacation can prove to be really positive in the grand scheme of things. Having something to look forward to can reduce negativity and, after your return and encourage a continued feeling of positivity.

The Cure:

Make that escape to Barbados. The Tamarind Hotel, to be exact. This 4.5-star resort is the perfect way to cure any temporary stints of insanity. A blend of Mediterranean design with vibrant Caribbean décor defines Tamarind’s style. Pristine pools nestled amid red-tiled roofs are the backdrop of your relaxation. Positioned on 750 feet of premium white sand and stunning blue waters, Tamarind Hotel is the only choice when looking to relieve built up stressors and all the things we call life.

Vacations to Barbados from CheapCaribbean.com

Dive into this beautiful beach and pool view at Tamarind Hotel in Barbados.

There are three freshwater pools hidden within the hotel’s gardens offering complete tranquility and total relaxation. 104 newly renovated guestrooms offer only the most superb accommodations, as well as a full-service spa with a range of body services inspired by local Bajan sea salt and Barbadian Moscovado brown sugar. Grab a deluxe signature spa treatment before making plans in one of the three restaurants on site or take a short water taxi ride to one of their sister properties to see what else they have to offer. With a setting so ideal for eliminating the worries from home, you’ll never want to leave.

If you’re busy thinking of all the reasons why you can’t make an escape to the beach, stop. Start thinking of all the reasons why you have to. There’s no denying that after a few short days in another reality will bring you back to life feeling less stress, well-rested and prepared to tackle the next obstacle. Your well being is just as important as all the other things going on in your life, so follow the doctor’s orders, take a vacation and relax…

 

Sun, Surf and the Super Bowl

This year’s winter has been an especially hard one and this week alone has been extremely nuts! While we’re all making predictions about the Super Bowl, I’m hoping Punxsutawney Phil's early spring prediction is right! If you’re dealing with the constant barrage of snowstorms and bitter cold, now is a great time for you to escape to a tropical getaway. One of my favorite escapes is none other than St. Lucia, which is actually featuring its own Super Bowl event!

The beautiful island of St. Lucia is one of the best-kept secrets in the Caribbean. With miles of beaches, acres of lush rainforests and incredibly scenic mountains, there’s something for
everyone to enjoy. And, in honor of this year’s Super Bowl, the new Smuggler’s Cove Resort and Spa is celebrating their recent Grand Opening with a Big Game Weekend. Participants can watch the game on the beach and enjoy VIP receptions, boat cruises and special workout sessions with NFL alumni!
Here are some other great reasons to visit St. Lucia:

Relaxation: If you’re looking for the perfect tropical getaway, you can’t do any better than St. Lucia. You can relax on the pristine beaches, or visit one of the many mud and mineral baths on the island.
Romance: There’s a reason why ABC picked St. Lucia to film portions of its hit show, “The Bachelor.” Whether you’re rekindling that old spark or starting a new romance, St. Lucia is the ideal setting for couples.
Family: St. Lucia is a great place to “Go Bananas” with your family. There are a number of kid-friendly activities for children of any age, including skyrides, whale watching and horseback riding.
Adventure: Want to climb a mountain? Hike in a rainforest? Go scuba diving? You can do it all in St. Lucia. There are plenty of adventures suitable for any activity level.
Entertainment: Who doesn’t love music? The 20th anniversary of Saint Lucia Jazz will be held April 30 –May 8, and will feature six time Grammy winner, John Legend, as this year’s headliner. This is the leading and longest running Jazz event in the Caribbean!
Food: What better way to enjoy the beautiful tropical scenery than on the patio of a world-famous restaurant? Enjoy some of the amazing cuisine, including fresh seafood, Creole dishes, and authentic Caribbean food.

So, this Super Bowl Sunday you can imagine yourself on the shores of St. Lucia instead of suffering through the interminable winter up North, or fighting the Super Bowl crowds in Dallas. Leave us a comment about how you are spending your Super Bowl Sunday!