Are you familiar with the Sandals concept? This American chain specialises in all-inclusive Caribbean holidays for adults only. The rather peaceful Halcyon Beach might be a good place to start if you're new to this American-style all-inclusive kind of holiday. Its 169 Caribbean-style guest rooms are set on the beachfront amid lush green gardens, making this a great place for couples looking for a compromise between the typical all-inclusive holiday and a little peace and quiet.
The Halcyon Beach stands on the beachfront just 10 minutes north of Castries, with the main road linking the island's capital to Gros-Ilet and Rodney Bay running just behind the hotel. There is not much to do within easy walking distance of the hotel, and Hewanorra International Airport is around an hour and a half away.
The three Sandals resorts in St. Lucia are all connected and with the slogan "Stay at one, play at three", guests are entitled to use the facilities and restaurants of all three establishments at will. If you stay at the Halcyon, therefore, you can use the facilities at the Grande St. Lucian and the Regency La Toc on an all-inclusive basis, just as if you were staying there. A free shuttle service operates between the three hotels.
Sandals also specialises in offering a 10% reduction to servicemen and fire-fighters travelling with their partners.
Having opened in 1980, the Halcyon is one of the older hotels on the island and therefore boasts some spectacular well-established gardens. The buildings which make up the resort seem to make a point of not exceeding the height of the surrounding coconut palms and the environment is generally a very pleasant one. The one small drawback is that you can hear the very busy road linking Castries to Gros-Ilet and Rodney Bay from the rear of the resort.
Nevertheless, the Halcyon is undoubtedly the quietest of the Sandals resorts in St. Lucia. It is aimed primarily at honeymooners and sports enthusiasts, with professional tennis lessons available as well as a basketball court, a gym (complete with sauna and hammam) and a beach-volleyball court, not to mention an extensive variety of water sports. If you fancy a change of scenery, you'll be pleased to know there are two large but pretty different swimming pools at the resort. The first, with its pool bar and its loud-speakers, provides exactly the festive ambience you would expect of the Sandals chain whereas the second, the Paradize Pool, is far more peaceful and meanders quietly under a series of wooden bridges.
With no fewer than 10 different room categories available, it's easy to get confused, particularly as some of the categories seem very similar in terms of amenities and price. The only real difference lies in where they are located within the resort. Only the rooms and suites offering a concierge and butler service are really of a superior standard.
The Standard rooms offer an excellent level of amenities, including air-conditioning and a fan, a fully-stocked mini-bar (which is restocked everyday as part of the all-inclusive package), tea and coffee-making facilities, free Wi-Fi, a large television, a safe, a hair-dryer and an iron and ironing board, so you shouldn't want for anything.
In terms of decor, you'll find the room pretty low-key and tastefully decorated in shades of taupe, beige, black and white with a four-poster bed, an armchair and plenty of storage making for very comfortable surroundings.
Seven bars and four restaurants for 160 guest rooms certainly isn't bad! The Halcyon's pride and joy is The Pier, a blue wooden building which stands on the pontoon. It is open for dinner only and serves à la carte Caribbean cuisine with breath-taking views across the Caribbean Sea. If you like to dine al fresco, however, you'd best look elsewhere, as the restaurant here is enclosed and air-conditioned. Mario's is also open for dinner only, this time showcasing fine northern Italian cuisine.
The Bayside buffet on the beachfront is entirely open and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Last but not least there's the Beach Bistro, which is open right through from 10:30am to 6:00pm and from 10:30pm to 3:00am serving plenty of hot and cold snacks (hamburgers, chips, salads, hotdogs, chicken wings, etc.).
If you include the restaurants at the other Sandals resorts on the island, you'll find you have a choice of no fewer than 16 restaurants included in your all-inclusive stay.
The Halcyon stands opposite Rat Island, on a beautiful white sandy beach lined with coconut palms. From plastic deckchairs and wooden parasols to crystal-clear waters and a variety of bars, you'll have everything you need on-hand to ensure you have a wonderfully lazy and relaxing time.
Water sports enthusiasts, meanwhile, will be in their element here, with a plethora of activities available. In fact, the Halcyon even has its own motorboats for deep-sea fishing.
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