St. Lucia Part Six: First Impression of the Fond Doux Plantation

23 Aug

Lyton and Eroline Lamontagne from

When I first encounter Lyton Lamontagne, he is having a leisurely last drink with a satisfied couple who are moving on to another hotel in the north of the country. We are all sitting at the bar in Jardin Cacao and he is visibly excited as he explains to the departing guests how it was constructed from the bamboo that he grows in one part of the sprawling plantation. I don’t say much but I am excited as well: it is really amazing to be on a beautiful certified organic cocoa plantation that produces enough chocolate to send to Hershey’s but also grows a plethora of other plants-  breadfruit, love pear, nutmeg, mango, ginger flowers, and more that seem to grow of their own volition, but were in fact planned for and planted by Mr. Lamontagne himself, as well as people from the surrounding community. I am even more excited that Leyton and his wife, Eroline, are black St. Lucians, who having established themselves working for other hotels, became entrepreneurs with land that Mr. Lamontagne’s deceased father left to him. My elation stems from the fact that Fond Doux was a working plantation during slavery, and I see the Lamontagne’s reclamation of this land as a tangible love letter to their ancestors who toiled in St. Lucia without recompense for generations.

As Mr. Lamontagne discusses with us how much he enjoys the grueling nature of planting, our  delicious and creamy Cocoa Fond Doux arrive, made from cocoa and nutmeg culled from our surroundings.  The discussion then shifts to architecture that makes the best use of sustainable materials. Mr. Lamontagne should know – he and his wife are passionate about finding old historical homes and cottages that have been abandoned to the ravages of time and then restoring them on their property as a guest cottage for visitors. Currently, there are eleven (one having just completed construction) scattered around the property, hidden by foliage from the day visitor who come from cruise ships and other resorts to tour the property and enjoy the buffet lunch.  After our drinks, Greg and I are starving and eat the lunch before going up to our rooms. Warning: Buffet in St. Lucia simply means a variety of dishes heated and served outdoors. It does not mean endless heaps of food on two or three plates to be scarfed down before getting back up and getting more endless heaps of food. Just saying, my fellow Americans. Some of the dishes are creole chicken, fried fish, and macaroni pie.

Afterwards, a young man named Omo takes us up to our room. And I do mean up! The Hillside Cottage is quite a few steps up from the rest of the property and overlooks the Lamontagne home as well as their two restaurants. The steps themselves are made from packed earth and encased in bamboo. The walk is a beautiful jungly path, but if you want something closer to the ground there are plenty of cottages on terra firma. The Angelina Cottage, where Prince Charles and Camilla Bowles stayed, is a great option for families. On the other hand, we looked forward to the stronger breezes that usually accompany hillside accommodations.

When we reach the room, we fall in love with the orange-hued decor, which mirrors the web site’s photographs. On the vanity table, there is a bowl of starfruit, love apples, and mangos. A fresh flower arrangement of anthuriums and heliconias is nearby. I don’t know if you can see the bed clearly, but Welcome has been spelled with yellow petals.

We unpack and then go to sit on the comfortable rocking chairs on the deck, enjoying the light breeze until we’re hungry for dinner.



Me in the Hillside Cottage

View of the deck: feeling the tradewinds

The bathroom has a sink bowl!


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