It became very clear very quickly, once we arrived at boutique hotel East Winds Resort St. Lucia, that this was a very small and very special place, focused on providing a restful, full-service experience. What was not clear to me was why it is classed as a four-star resort.
Disclosure: I stayed at East Winds Resort with my friend, Shoba George of Just Go Places, for three nights. Our stay was sponsored by the resort in exchange for articles and social media posts. Nevertheless, they have no say in what I write in this review.
And another disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. If you click on one and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission. This will not affect your price.
What is East Winds Inn like?
This is a small and unknown “intimate exclusive-inclusive boutique hotel” (to quote their Twitter site). It’s not part of a chain, and very unlike the big-name resorts on the island like the Windjammer just down the coast or the Sandals resort nearby.
This is not in any way a negative thing: it means that, with only 30 rooms, East Winds is a quiet and peaceful place.
Most of the rooms at East Winds Resort are “deluxe cottages” like ours or “superior cottages” scattered about the resort’s rectangular property that slants gently upward from the beach. Most are in duplex form and do not have a beach view, but they do all have a veranda or patio for enjoying the tropical greenery outside. From any of the accommodations it’s a short and not steep walk to the pool, beach and restaurant.
Our “deluxe cottage” – half of a duplex – is a pretty standard size room, furnished with good-quality furniture. It has a tv – which we didn’t feel the need to use even once – a dresser, a large cupboard, end tables, a desk with a desk chair, and an armchair, besides the twin beds we’d requested. It has an air conditioner and a ceiling fan, both of which worked well and quietly. The closet is huge, and the room comes with robes and slippers, umbrellas – it’s a rainforest climate, after all – a safe and an ironing board with an iron.
The bathroom is unusual in that it has two sinks, both in colorful ceramic, and a step-down shower. I couldn’t really figure out why the shower is sunken, except that it makes it harder for anyone to see in the windows, which have no curtains. It also prevents the rest of the bathroom from getting wet from the shower. It has both a regular and a rain shower and the pressure was just right for me. We were both very happy with the high-quality amenities by Molton Brown.
Outside, on the veranda, is a table and two chairs, as well as a sink and coffee maker. There are makings for tea as well as coffee and, in the mini-fridge under the sink, a supply of beer, wine and soft drinks. Soon after we arrived, an employee came with a plate of chocolates for us as well: always welcome!
The grounds at East Winds Resort in St Lucia
It was the 12-acre garden that I first fell in love with. It is well-maintained, with trees and shrubs labeled like a botanical garden. Both of the tracts of land on either side of East Winds’ property are undeveloped, so they are much more forest-like. The effect of having this tropical paradise of a garden sitting between two wild tracts is the sound of the place: the sounds of birdsong and insects chirping fill the air. I did not find this disturbing, though. At night the birds quiet down, and the whirr of our ceiling fan, combined with the insect sounds, served as white noise.
The head gardener offers regular tours of the garden for guests. Unfortunately he was away when we were there, so we didn’t get the tour. Instead, we borrowed a book about the garden, which gave its history and allowed me to identify various plants and birds I had seen.
If fitness is your thing, the resort has a fitness path to one side of the property, with stops for different sorts of exercises. I took a short walk along it one morning, and happened to catch an incredible rainbow. I hurried down to the beach to see it over the ocean, but it was gone by the time I got there.
The short walk from our room down to the waterfront leads past the pool, which I never used – I like salt water better – but it looks pleasant enough. It has a swim-up bar and plenty of lounge chairs around it.
All of East Winds’ meals are served on an outdoor roofed patio right on the beach. It’s such a pleasant spot that I ended up making my meals, especially breakfast, last. I’d sit and watch the birds while I drank my tea, and one of them watched me closely for the opportunity to pick up a grain of two of sugar.
The dining area also has a bar, where drinks are available for the asking pretty much all the time. The menu includes some standard tropical mixes, with separate lists of shaken drinks and blended drinks. One particular blended one called “Bartender’s Smile” – ½ oz coconut cream, 2 oz pineapple juice, ½ oz Cacao Brown, 1 oz dark rum and ice – was my favorite, and I really appreciated that the menu includes the measurements so I can try to duplicate it! Of course, the bar serves all of the standard drinks as well.
A lounge next door, also in a roofed open-air space, is furnished with comfy couches and chairs. The bar there does mostly traditional rather than tropical drinks, though because they’re so close to the main bar it’s no problem to get a Bartender’s Smile to drink in the lounge.
The beach has two parts: one where the restaurant is and one further down on the other side of a small stream. On the restaurant side there are small round thatched shelters, plus, of course, palm trees, along with loungers to stretch out on. Stone retaining walls hold up the part of the shore the restaurant stands on, and the size of the beach below it depends on the tide.
On the other side the beach is bigger and also gets fewer waves. Again there are some shelters, palm trees, and more lounge chairs. This side of the beach also has water sports equipment: guests can borrow for free what they need for snorkeling, sailing (Hobie Cats), paddle boarding or kayaking. The resort offers no motor sports, which adds to the quiet vibe of the place.
I went sailing one day with the employee who oversees the equipment. It was an absolute delight to be on the water again and he was good company too, patiently answering my many questions about East Winds and Saint Lucia as a whole.
The only disturbance of the peace at East Winds Hotel was the occasional fast motorboat that swooped by, hauling a water skier or an inflatable raft with passengers. These came from the huge Windjammer resort down the coast, but fortunately stayed far enough out that we could ignore them.
(Speaking of the Windjammer, I was amazed when I saw that resort from the water and realized how big it is, with villas and hotel blocks extending up a small mountain. No walking to the beach for those vacationers! They take a shuttle up and down the hill. In the evenings we could hear the distant boom-boom-boom of a musical bass line from the Windjammer. Fortunately, it only carried as far as the beach, not our rooms. It must be so loud there at their resort! It made me doubly glad to be where I was.)
As you can imagine, the fact that there are only 30 rooms at the resort meant that I never had trouble finding a lounge chair when I wanted one, nor did I ever have to wait for a table at the dining area.
Sunset at the beach
Every evening, the guests at East Winds Inn, if they’re not at the beach already, wander down there to order a drink and watch the sunset. It’s magical. Each night during our stay, the wind died down and it seemed that the sea did too. I sat on the sand watching – and photographing – the sunset as the other guests chatted nearby over their drinks. So peaceful and so beautiful.
The food at East Winds Resort Saint Lucia
We ate surprisingly well at East Winds. I say surprisingly because my preconception of all-in resorts is that the food involves impersonal assembly-line production. That may be so at larger resorts, but it certainly wasn’t so here.
I don’t know if East Winds normally does a buffet for breakfast or lunch, but the pandemic didn’t allow it when we visited. Instead, we were given a menu for each meal, and literally everything I ate was delicious and prettily presented.
At breakfast we could choose, for example, yogurt with a variety of toppings, eggs, bacon, pancakes, bread, pastries and so on. The wait staff learned my preferences right away, which I appreciated. Each morning a waiter offered me “therapy”: a fruit and vegetable smoothie of some sort, different each day.
Lunch and dinner usually involved three courses: a starter, a main and a dessert, and we generally had three choices for each. The menu was different for every meal, so even if you stayed a week or longer, you’d have plenty of variety. Every course was served in a pretty arrangement on the plate, and every single one was tasty – often with a Caribbean flair, but also often a fusion of, say, an Asian cuisine with Caribbean touches. Some were more traditional meat or fish dishes, but again, with shades of the Caribbean in the preparation. The fish always tasted very fresh.
Switching things around was no problem either. If we wanted, for example, two of the starters, using one as the main, it was no problem. Though I never tried it, another guest told me that if you don’t like anything from the menu, you can request something else. Depending on what ingredients they have on hand, they’ll do their best to provide for you. The same goes for the bar, by the way.
For each dinner a selection of wines were on offer, presumably paired to the menu, since they were different every evening. All drinks are included, so I tended to either order a soft drink or indulge in another tropical blended drink. These clashed a little with the elegance of the food, but I love those sweet drinks, so I found them hard to resist. One night I did order a glass of Fat Bastard wine from France, but, to be honest, I just ordered it because I liked the name.
During many of our meals, musical entertainment was provided by the resort. One day it was a man playing gentle piano tunes. Another day, when lunch was a barbeque, a steel-pan band played Caribbean tunes for us. Another time we heard a couple of folk guitarists accompanied by singing. None of these were overly loud or intrusive or, as I’ve seen in other situations, trying too hard to “animate” the guests. They provided atmosphere, and it was always pleasant.
The resort provides a series of activities for guests as well. Some of these are included, such as their garden tour, rum tasting, or cooking classes, to name a few. Others are excursions and cost extra, such as a boat trip to the Pitons to see the scenery, the drive-in volcano and a waterfall; a “breathtaking views tour”; a distillery tour; or a shopping trip.
Since we had a rental car, we did many of these ourselves before and after our stay at East Winds. The only East Winds excursion we took was the sunset cruise, which was definitely worth the price. (See more on that below.) If you stay at East Winds and don’t have a rental car, I would recommend both the sunset cruise and the trip to the Pitons and volcano. The distillery tour, if you like rum, is great fun too. If you want some good snorkeling, consider taking their snorkeling tour. The reefs near the resort are not in great condition and the tour will take you to a better one.
This excursion takes guests up north to the marina at Rodney Bay. Boarding a large sailing catamaran, we sailed back south, where we could see little East Winds Resort from the water. We drank rum punch or champagne and watched the sun set from our places on the bow of the sailboat as it skimmed quietly along the water.
Besides the gorgeous sunset, I got a chance on this excursion to chat with some of the other guests. Most were, I’d say, in their 50s or 60s, with a few a bit younger. What I learned was that most were from the UK and were not here on their first visit. In fact, quite a few guests return to East Winds year after year. Several had lost count of how many times they’d stayed at East Winds. Clearly this restful place inspires loyalty!
East Winds Resort St Lucia has a wellness center to one side of the property as well as a yoga studio. Each morning, quite early, either a pilates or yoga lesson takes place at the yoga studio.
Massages and other treatments cost extra. They happen either in the wellness center – actually an open-air room, sheltered from prying eyes – or in your hotel room. I didn’t get any of the treatments so I can’t speak for the quality.
A nurse’s station is available, and a small kiosk on the beach is the place to book excursions or inquire about other activities such as scuba diving.
Children 8 and up are welcome, but there are no special activities or services for them. I’d suggest only staying at East Winds Resort with kids if they’re good at keeping themselves entertained.
I haven’t been to many Caribbean islands, but I’ve written a lot about Guadeloupe. Start with this Guadeloupe guide.
So why is East Winds a 4-star resort?
I googled the difference between 4-star and 5-star but don’t have a clear definition. It depends on the country and which rating system it uses, and the Caribbean apparently doesn’t have a rating system in place. In any case, the explanations I could find were pretty vague. They boiled down to general statements about 5-star hotels being more luxurious or having more facilities than 4-star, without giving any specifics.
I think that the reason East Winds Hotel isn’t a 5-star resort is that, while it’s luxurious, it isn’t over-the-top luxurious.
Staff was helpful and friendly. They learned our preferences quickly. I even saw the wait staff greeting newly-arrived repeat visitors by name! There was no turn-down service, though, or chocolates on the pillow. Porters carried our luggage for us and anything we requested was seen to right away, but our room didn’t have a person assigned to it as a butler or similar. To be honest, I don’t know why any of this would be needed; people at a resort like this only spend time in their rooms to sleep and as a quick stop to shower and change clothes between swimming and eating.
East Winds has one very pleasant pool, but no jacuzzi or other sauna facilities that I was aware of. Did I miss them? No, though if there had been a jacuzzi I would have used it. The spa on-site has fairly limited offerings: massages, wraps, manicures and facials – all at an extra charge – but no water features like steam rooms or whirlpools or similar.
The food is 5-star, in my view: elegant, sophisticated and creative, especially at dinner.
I guess it comes down to what you’re looking for. If you want an on-site discotheque or jet-skis or any other high-energy, high-noise activity, this is definitely not the place for you. The same goes for if you expect constant entertainment.
If you want over-the-top luxury, this is not the place for you.
On the other hand, if a tropical paradise that is luxurious, intimate, peaceful and quiet – except for the birds – appeals to you, you’ll love East Winds Inn.
Staying at East Winds Resort St Lucia doesn’t mean you have to entirely entertain yourself, since there are excursions every day if you want. But it’s a place you might go if your idea of a perfect holiday is lying in the shade of a palm tree reading a good book, tropical drink in hand.
Who knows, it might become your annual holiday destination!