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Ten luxury hotels worth the splurge: Ladera Resort, St. Lucia, West Indies

SmarterTravel

Recommended by Contributing Editor Erica Silverstein

At St. Lucia’s remote Ladera Resort, there’s no division between guest spaces and the surrounding rainforest; there’s no need for bug spray or camping gear, either. Built into a mountain slope overlooking St. Lucia’s iconic Piton peaks 1,100 feet above Jalousie Bay, this out-of-the-ordinary ecolodge cum romantic hideaway has 25 rooms and suites that are completely open on their westward-facing sides (but designed for privacy and protection against the elements).

“The uniqueness of the rooms is how they blend right into the rainforest,” says Contributing Editor Erica Silverstein, who stayed at the resort last December. “I even had little lizards and birds in my living room. You don’t notice that there’s no air-conditioning because you get natural breezes. But it’s nothing like camping; it’s more like living in some jungle palace.”

Likewise, Silverstein says the rooms’ decor and amenities are anything but primitive: “The rooms are like luxury bungalows; they definitely are a cut above with handcrafted woodwork and innovative designs. The rooms are spacious and private and each has lounge chairs and a plunge pool, so if you want a romantic escape, you have everything you need right in your room. I also loved the big four-poster beds with mosquito netting. You crawl into bed and it’s like you’re in your own private world.”

Ideal for honeymooners and other vacationing couples, Ladera also has an award-winning open-air restaurant, Dasheene, and a spa and infinity pool. Rates range from at $280 to $590 per night. “The hotel is worth its price for the unique rooms, beautiful setting, and friendly service,” says Silverstein. “If you’re going to spend a lot of money on a hotel, you can’t do better than spending it here.”

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