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Record Travel; Paradise Lost.

ST LUCIA - the very name conjures up deserted golden beaches, exotic cocktails, sun-filled days and balmy nights.

But bear in mind that your dream destination doesn't always live up to expectations.

And that was the case for me with the tiny West Indian island.

I stayed at Club St Lucia in the far north of the island - about 80 minutes by taxi from Hewanorra Airport - on an all-inclusive deal that I was experiencing for the first time.

And I could only really find one fault ... which is more to do with me than the hotel.

After a few days of eating, drinking and making merry within the hotel, I got a bit stir crazy.

I needed to get out of the complex - splendid though it was - and sample the St Lucia experience.

And that was the biggest disappointment.

I BOOKED a taxi to show me around the island and driver Cecil Lovence, a retired high-ranking policeman, was a brilliant guide.

He took me to Castries, Rodney Bay, Soufriere and the very beautiful Marigot Bay, which was what I expected the whole island to be like.

He also took me to the Pitons, which are spectacular twin peaks, the Diamond Falls and anywhere else worth seeing on an island known as "The Helen of the West Indies". But, while the beautiful face is always immaculate to the tourists, there is another side.

While holidaymakers, visitors and rich residents live in the grand manner, the locals don't all share their luxuries.

Many live in what we would describe as garden sheds and passing through some of the villages is a lesson in humility if you stop for a second to consider what you're spending on your own holiday.

St Lucia is just 238 square miles and a great deal of it is uninhabitable ... and, after five or six hours with Cecil, I'd seen it all and done most of it.

AND that put me back to my hotel, with its beach, water sports, and nightlife.

They also do a nice line in weddings!

One Scots couple from Dundee and another from Edinburgh tied the knot in sensational surroundings when I was there.

And there's certainly something different about Here Comes The Bride on steel drums.

The newlyweds probably had other things to do but, if you feel like it, you can eat and drink to your heart's content.

You help yourself to the beer and soft drinks and the bar staff will do the rest, including all the amazing cocktails you can come up with.

BUT, if you want a change from the usual routine, you do have to go out and about to find it.

What is probably St Lucia's finest restaurant - the Great House, run quite brilliantly by Frenchman Guy Cabrera - is just behind the complex and very handy.

The only problem with the Great House is that money DOES have to change hands there and you can use the local Eastern Caribbean dollar, US dollar or credit cards.

Overall, you'll enjoy the hotel and the weather.

But, for me at least, the jury is still out on St Lucia.

FACTFILE ST LUCIA

YOU can go safely to St Lucia, weather-wise, most of the year, but June, July and August - and sometimes beyond - tend to be the rainy months, although still hot. Between December and May, it's likely to be around 70- 75 degrees. It can climb to 85 and still be very pleasant since there's always a welcome breeze.

COUPLES marrying at Club St Lucia and Club Antigua in 1997 qualify for a free wedding package - worth around pounds 300 - when they book a wedding party of eight or more adults.

CLUB International, who have Club St Lucia and others in Antigua, Barbados and Kenya, can be contacted on 01372 466944. Their all- inclusive theme is very comprehensive and covers all meals, snacks, drinks and a host of watersports

ST LUCIA is also featured by all the leading long-haul tour operators.
COPYRIGHT 1996 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Clark, Graham
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Aug 3, 1996
Words:662
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