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Friday,  April 19, 2024 5:38 PM 

On Location: “Pampered in paradise”: PAX unpacks Coconut Bay’s makeover in St. Lucia

On Location: “Pampered in paradise”: PAX unpacks Coconut Bay’s makeover in St. Lucia
PAX is getting an on-the-ground look at Coconut Bay in Saint Lucia as the property undergoes upgrades and enhancements. (Pax Global Media)
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

The past 12 months at Coconut Bay have been filled with procedures that one might see in a plastic surgery clinic.

The Atlantic Ocean-facing, all-inclusive beach resort in south Saint Lucia, in the town of Vieux Fort, has been going under the knife, so to speak, receiving extensive facelifts, nips and tucks.

In other words, upgrades. Renovation projects are a big deal in the hospitality world, and at Coconut Bay, a “Two Worlds In One” compound with separate wings for families and adults, the strategy, for at least a decade now, has been to enhance the guest experience as much as possible – one room, pool and menu at a time.

Coconut Bay is a 250-room property in Saint Lucia. (Pax Global Media)

PAX is currently embedded in this idyllic resort, which sits on Anse de Sables Beach (Sandy Beach), where we’re getting an on-the-ground look at some of the property’s latest enhancements and future projects.

Located some two, three minutes away from Hewanorra International Airport (planes can be spotted, flying low overhead), Coconut Bay, which turns 19 this month, has 250 rooms and suites, which are shared between an adults-only “Harmony” wing, and “Splash,” the family-friendly side.

As we learned during a site inspection on Thursday (March 14), the property closes every September to focus on self-care (upgrades and construction).

Some of the property’s latest enhancements include an extended lobby, new menus across all of its eight restaurants and a newly-constructed wedding gazebo.

Low rise buildings at Coconut Bay. (Pax Global Media)

While the gazebo ensures a magical ceremony, Coconut Bay, is “not a wedding factory,” as Natalia Greene, vice-president of sales and marketing put it, noting that the resort will only host one wedding per day so events remain exclusive.

The property has also doubled its number of outdoor massage cabanas at Sanctuary Spa.

These breezy cocoons, which include access to private showers (which are also outdoors), face the swirling ocean and offer dreamy views of nearby islands, such as Maria Islands Nature Reserve.

Ocean-facing massage cabanas at Sanctuary Spa. (Pax Global Media)

The vibe, as we discovered during a tour of the Zen-like facility yesterday, takes getting “pampered in paradise” to a whole new level. The fact that cabanas were added suggests that the demand is there.

In addition, there have been service upgrades in select room categories, such as new concierge amenities for the Splash Premium and Harmony Jr. Suite rooms.

Property-wide room reno

But the biggest revamp, besides refreshing spaces with new furniture, is Coconut Bay’s property-wide room renovation, which is breathing new life into its garden and ocean-facing accommodations.

A project the resort hopes to complete in two years, the reno involves modernizing all bathrooms with black fixtures, marble tiling on the walls and fresh ash-grey flooring. An updated aesthetic will also extend into all units.

Renovated suite in family-friendly Splash wing. (Pax Global Media)

Renovated bathroom in Splash family-friend wing (only Splash section bathrooms have bathtubs). (Pax Global Media)

Just a handful of rooms (nine), so far, have been re-done, and these are, for the most part, being set aside for repeat guests, the team said. 

As Coconut Bay gets its coconuts in a row, construction is expected to ramp up this year, in a spaced-out manner that won’t disturb guests, the team told us.

Renovated suite in Harmony adults-only wing. (Pax Global Media)

Current version of a suite, pre-renovation, in the Harmony wing. (Pax Global Media)

Formally a Club Med

Formally a Club Med (that’s going way back – the Paris-based, Trident-stamped hotelier closed its Saint Lucia property in 2001 due to the recession and aftereffects of 9/11), Coconut Bay unbolted its door in 2005.

The property is not a copy of what Club Med once was – the on-site waterpark, diverse restaurants, and room balconies that guests see today are all products of Coconut Bay.

Sprawling pools at Coconut Bay. (Pax Global Media)

But the ghost of Club Med, one could argue, lives on in some aspects of the blueprint.

Starting with a prime oceanfront location – Club Med is known for being the first to enter a destination, often claiming the best land. Coconut Bay benefits from this. It’s in a sublime spot, filled with ocean breeze and divine sunrises. 

The property's low-rise, village-like layout, too, is much like a Club Med property.

CocoLand Waterpark at Coconut Bay. (Pax Global Media)

There’s also Club Med-esqe concepts, from the main restaurant, Coconut Walk (it’s not a buffet, but a “marketplace” with made-to-order dishes and stations for kids that serve cotton candy) to the “CocoLand Kidz Klub,” which, like Club Med, welcomes babies and is committed to keeping kids active.

But Coconut Bay makes its own kind of music. The advantage, here, is that the property is independently owned, which allows creativity to flow without the weight of corporate pressure.

Murals by local artists line the walls at Coconut Bay. (Pax Global Media)

Inside CocoLand Kidz Klub

The CocoLand Kidz Klub is particularly impressive.

Designed for children between the ages of three and 12, youngsters receive a backpack, water bottle, t-shirt, hat, a “SCOUTS workbook,” and a scrapbook when they register. (Babies, meanwhile, get their own infant room with colourful cribs and playpens).

CocoLand has a sprawling, fenced-in backyard with a pirate ship playground, splash pad and a sanctuary for rescued animals called Coco Corral. 

It might just be the largest outdoor space for children I’ve ever seen at a resort. Coconut Bay owns an eye-popping 85 acres, which includes the nearby all-inclusive, adults-only Serenity at Coconut Bay, an ultra-luxe, 36-suite property for couples. 

Even with that, they're only using a fraction of their land.

Sprawling backyard at CocoLand Kidz Klub. (Pax Global Media)

The Kidz Klub, at Coconut Bay, is a nine-to-five, seven days a week operation (private babysitting is also available afterhours, at $15 per hour, per child). It even offers parents a complimentary local cell phone so they can stay in touch with their kiddos during the day (if they want to).  

There are kid-friendly events at night, too, such as CocoLand Pirate’s Night dinner, Movie Night, Camp Night (younger children are welcome with parents or babysitters).

Inside CocoLand Kidz Klub. (Pax Global Media)

The highest ratio of children to staff is six to one, and for guests under three, it’s three to one. However: “We usually have more hands than that ratio,” noted Mia Chin, a sales and guest relations manager.

One of the walls in the Klub is painted with turtles – a nod to Coconut Bay’s sea turtle conservation program.

Young guests can take part in “Sea Turtle Scouts” (from March to November), which is geared towards the protection of nesting turtles and hatchlings emerging from their nests. 

Mia Chin, a sales and guest relations manager, at Coconut Bay. (Pax Global Media)

While fewer turtles have been spotted in recent years, the property, nonetheless, is committed to teaching families about how to care for the environment.

Coconut Bay also isn’t afraid to turn up the fun. At select times, the resort’s mascots, Coco and Loco – two life-sized, colourful coconuts – will roam the property for meet and greets. It's a photo op for both kids and adults. 

Coco and Loco are Coconut Bay's mascots. (Pax Global Media)

Teenagers have access to a games room that has an Xbox and pool tables. But the biggest draw for teens (I think) is a 30,000 square-foot paintball facility (which costs extra).

Here, guests 13 and older team up to fire neon paintballs as they attempt to capture their opponents’ flag.

Lush Saint Lucia

These are just some of the selling points we’ve noted so far at Coconut Bay, where PAX will be playing until Sunday (March 17). 

Adding to everything are five palm-tree peppered pools (two are adults-only), Saint Lucia’s largest waterpark, CocoLand Waterpark (which has a lazy river and waterslides), beautiful murals painted on walls by local artists, friendly staff and a collection of restaurants, including the popular Jerk Tree House, a poolside eatery constructed around a large seagrape tree.

One half of Saint Lucia's Pitons. (Pax Global Media)

There’s also something to be said about visiting lush Saint Lucia, an Eastern Caribbean island nation known for its pair of majestic mountains, The Pitons, on the southwest side of the island, luxury resorts and outdoor activities, like the Sulphur Springs mud baths and world-class snorkeling and diving sites.

The island sparkles with crystal-clear waters and natural beauty. Coconut Bay, a paradise within a paradise, fits right in.

Stay tuned for more of PAX’s coverage from Coconut Bay Beach Resort and Spa in Saint Lucia.

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