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Jazz Fest Has Crowds Returning to St. Lucia

If you did a travel word cloud on St. Lucia the most prominent phrases

would likely be “nature,” “luxury resorts,” and “Jazz Fest.”
The latter of these fell quiet for four years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the 2023 return of St. Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival helped propel a surge in visitors that the president of the St. Lucia Hospitality and Tourism Association believes will carry over into 2024.
According to Tourism Analytics, St. Lucia had 748,373 visitors between January and September of 2023, up 68 percent the entire year of 2022. A little more than half of those visitors came from the U.S.

 

Headlined by Sting and Shaggy, the 2023 Jazz Fest drew strong crowds, with some events during the week-long festival sold out. The 2024 festival, scheduled for April 30-May 12, will include performances by Air Supply, Babyface, Machel Montero, and Samara Joy, among
many others.

 

Jazz Fest, along with other big events like St. Lucia’s summer Carnival, Dive Fest, and even cricket tournaments, is helping to fill seats on new flights to the island, which in turn feeds lodging that includes several soon-to-open hotels, said Paul Collymore, president of the Saint Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association.
“Saint Lucia’s tourism industry is poised for more expansion as various tourism investments, including Secrets St. Lucia Resort & Spa, Cas en Bas Beach Resort, Courtyard by Marriott, Cabot Saint Lucia, Caribbean Jewels Seven Wonders and the GPH Cruise Project, continue to take shape,” he said.
In total, St. Lucia will add 1,000 plus new hotel rooms by 2025 — a big expansion by island standards. The new, 351-room Secrets Resort will likely be the first to debut later this year, while St. Lucia’s first Destination by Hyatt hotel, the Cas en Bas Beach Resort, also is expected to open in 2024. The140-room Courtyard by Marriott at Pointe Seraphine Castries is slated for a 2025 opening.

 

Caribbean Jewels Seven Wonders is a large-scale resort development sited on Mount Pimard near Castries planned to open in phases starting in 2025; the plan includes a 480-room luxury resort and over-the-sea bungalows. The cruise project includes upgrading St. Lucia’s ports to accept the largest cruise ships now afloat.
Already open is Cabot St. Lucia, a 375-acre golf and residential development on the north end of the island. The first golfers teed off in December at the new Point Hardy Golf Club, the third golf course on the island which features an 18-hole oceanfront layout that’s the first course in the Caribbean designed by architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. “It’s a challenging course, and the views from the north end of the island are breathtaking,” said Collymore. “When you think of having a world class golf course on the island, not many can rival Cabot.”
Still to come: seven luxury residential neighborhoods, Har-Tru tennis courts, clay tennis courts, pickleball courts, a wood-fired pizza truck curated by Michelin starred chef Esther Ha, a beach club, golf clubhouse, spa and fitness center.

 

St. Lucia also is encouraging visitors to consider non-resort lodging options with the recent establishment of the Collection de Pepites program, designed to help travel advisors and visitors find hotels with under 35 rooms, boutique properties, villas, and B&Bs on the island.
All of the properties listed in the program’s online directory have been accredited by the St. Lucia Ministry of Tourism and the St. Lucia Tourism Authority. “It’s a growing segment,” said Collymore. “We have also seen an increased level of satisfaction from visitors who come to stay at alternate accommodations.”
Stays in these properties offers a very different experience than spending a week at an all-inclusive luxury resort, which long has been the mainstay of St. Lucia lodging. “It’s an opportunity to do your own dine-around and support local communities and businesses,” he said.

 

Rafting and (Pub) Crawling are New Attractions
St. Lucia’s famous “drive-through volcano” is a well-known excursion involving close-up views of streaming fumaroles and the opportunity to take a mud bath with supposed healing qualities. The island’s newest excursion is kind of the opposite experience: a bamboo rafting trip along the refreshing Roseau River.
Operated as St. Lucia Bamboo Rafting, the tour begins about 20 minutes from the cruise port in Castries and includes a peaceful guided trip through the rainforest. Tours include transportation to the cruise port or local hotels with the option of adding a BBQ lunch, rum distillery visit, and a romance package with lunch and wine aboard the raft.
For clients who’d rather keep their feet on the ground — or maybe kicked up at a bar — the Lucian Kabawe’ Krawl Experience is a Caribbean-style pub crawl that makes stops alone a mapped, island-wide bar trail to sample local food and drinks. Visitors can “lime like a local” with Serenity Vacations and Tours.

 

American Adds Flights
It won’t happen in time for Jazz Fest, but clients looking to get to St. Lucia will soon have more flight options to choose from. American Airlines will add a second daily flight between Miami and St. Lucia in June, with the expanded schedule set to stay in place at least until Sept. 3. American also is adding more capacity on its Philadelphia-St. Lucia flights by switching to larger Airbus A321 aircraft.

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