About Boucan by Hotel Chocolat
Chocolate – or cocoa, to be more precise – is what it’s all about at St Lucia’s newest hotel. You may well be familiar with the British chain of Hotel Chocolat shops. Well, the company recently bought the Rabot Estate near Soufriere – dating from 1745, it’s St Lucia’s oldest cocoa plantation. Hotel Chocolat is using the estate as the focal point for trying to revive the island’s cocoa production, and it has also built a sleek restaurant with a cluster of lodges attached.
The restaurant/bar is a striking, open-plan, open-sided pavilion, and the beautifully presented food rivals any other restaurant on the island. Cocoa is used in virtually every dish, either as savoury cocoa nibs, or in the form of chocolate. We love the delectably smooth hot chocolate for breakfast, and a cacao bellini or chocolate daiquiri in the bar before dinner.
With arty prints of cocoa beans, iPods loaded with Caribbean tunes, and an understated palette of browns and whites, bedrooms are the epitome of plantation chic. Luxe Lodges, set on a hillside up flights of steps, have vaulted ceilings, spacious verandahs basking in views of the Petit Piton, and snazzy rainforest showers. Cheaper Lodges, set around a courtyard, are equally stylish and more easily accessible, but much more compact. Both types of room have four-poster beds under mosquito netting – there is no air-conditioning.
Though it’s a drive to the nearest beach, there is plenty to do on the estate. The hotel offers fascinating tours of the nursery, during which guests can graft their own cocoa sapling, and Boucan’s chef works with guests to create bars of chocolate from cocoa beans. There are also treatments using cocoa oils on offer in the spa.
We’ve enjoyed wandering through the estate’s cocoa groves (though creating paths is a work in progress), and down to the Sulphur Springs, a pleasant 30-minute stroll away along a back lane. Alternatively, you can just chill out in the residents-only Club Boucan, whose infinity swimming pool merges with the mesmeric view of Petit Piton.