Notes From the Pitons – Creative Genius Reaches For the Sun, Moon and Stars

A common aspect of the human condition is to focus on the product at the expense of the process. In reality, our work here is never complete until the heart stops beating. We build and acquire, plan and organize, dream and strive. In the heat of productivity we often fail to appreciate the journey. I once took a yoga class where the instructor captured this idea beautifully when she told us to spend more time focusing on the space between poses (i. e., how it feels to get there) than the pose itself. She invited us to devote our practice to reflecting upon how our body feels and where our mind goes in the space between poses, as we flow from one pose to the next.

There is a man whose gift to the world is an unsurpassed architectural example of the heights we humans can soar to when we pay attention to the space between a vision and a finished product. Russian-Canadian architect and creative genius Nick Troubetzkoy, who conceptualized and built Anse Chastanet followed by the newer Jade Mountain on the island of St. Lucia, painstakingly worked closely with other builders to create extraordinary beauty through light, glass, and space. He capitalized on the exquisite natural elements surrounding his resort to create an upscale luxury paradise so spectacular words cannot possibly do it justice. One of his many distinguishing creations is his columns reaching out to heaven- an important part of the design at Jade Mountain. Some are intended to be topped with wire sculptures and others with glass designs created by David Knox of Lightstreams. What I found most interesting is how the columns also reflect Troubetzkoy’s appreciation for the process rather than the product. The columns stand tall and proud yet incomplete, reminding us that Troubetzkoy’s work is never finished- one true sign of a creative genius.

Back in early September, I picked up a copy of Caribbean Magazine at an airport newsstand in San Jose, Costa Rica. The magazine featured an article on the top ten resorts in the Caribbean. I was immediately intrigued with Anse Chastanet, a resort in St. Lucia overlooking the Caribbean Sea with a perfect view of the Piton mountains. The look of this place appealed to me on multiple levels and I fantasized about the prospect of spending a romantic honeymoon getaway at this lush tropical estate with my soon to be husband.

Several weeks later I sent an email to Karolin Troubetzkoy, Executive Director of Anse Chastanet/Jade Mountain and wife of Nick Troubetzkoy. On November 3rd my husband and i boarded a 4. 5 hour Delta flight from Atlanta to St. Lucia, bound for Anse Chastanet. Dreams really can come true! When we landed at the Hewanorra International airport and met our driver, we were informed that we were headed for Jade Mountain, the companion resort to Anse Chastanet built at a higher elevation on the same mountain. I was aware that the two resorts were built, owned and managed by the Troubetzkoys, and despite the fact that both are clearly magnificent, I felt a wave of disappointment as i expected to split our time evenly between the two resorts. We were scheduled to spend our first several nights at Anse Chastanet before switching to Jade Mountain, and I was looking forward to experiencing a little of each. Now I was concerned that our entire stay might be spent at Jade Mountain.Tamar Braxton Calls David Adefeso Her ‘Husband’ And Fans Go Crazy With Excitement

The winding mountain roads yielded breathtaking views of the Caribbean Sea; colorful homes built alongside the mountains and many small villages beneath. We twisted and turned our way towards Jade Mountain, watching local children make their way home from school as we chatted with the driver about the island’s climate, cuisine and lifestyle. I explained to the driver how we were seated on the wrong side of the plane, as we only managed to catch a brief glimpse of the twin peaks during our approach into St. Lucia. I was eager to witness their majestic beauty in person.

Our driver explained that we would know precisely when we were approaching the resort because we would find the Petit and Gros Piton mountains behind us rather than ahead of us. We passed through the village of Soufriere on the southwestern coast of the island and zigzagged up the final incline towards Anse Chastanet and Jade Mountain on roads so bumpy I thought I was back in Costa Rica. True to the driver’s word, the twin peaks took their place behind us as we approached the resort. St. Lucia is quite similar to Costa Rica in terms of topography, as the island is very lush and volcanic with black sand beaches and dense tropical rainforest. Tourists visit St. Lucia for its eco tourism and adventure appeal. Snorkeling and scuba diving amidst coral reefs teeming with tropical fish and careening above the forest on a zip line are favored excursions in St. Lucia.

We received a very warm welcome at Jade Mountain, where we were handed a refreshing drink and a cool washcloth with a minty/floral scent the moment we stepped out of the car. Then we were whisked away to our private sanctuary. When i entered the sanctuary I was caught off guard by a vision so gorgeous it brought tears to my eyes and nearly knocked the wind out of me. I did not know whether to jump up and down or get on my hands and knees and kiss the ground. We soon learned that being admitted to Jade Mountain rather than Anse Chastanet constitutes a much sought after upgrade that many repeat customers (of which there are many), spend the entire time between visits hoping and praying for. We realized the comical aspect of our earlier concern when we learned at the airport that we were headed for Jade Mountain instead of Anse Chastanet. Further, we learned that Jade Mountain guests have access to the amenities at both resorts (restaurants/spas/etc), while Anse Chastanet guests are not entitled to the amenities at Jade Mountain. We had no complaints.

The incredible beauty of this place is difficult to capture in words. For this reason we took many photos and video clips, but even these don’t suffice in conveying the experience. At Jade Mountain there are three levels of sanctuaries- stars, moon and sun. Just when you think you have witnessed the most fantastic vision one could hope to experience in a lifetime, think again- because Troubetzkoy does not stop at perfection. His talents bridge the gap between heaven and earth. Again, not words alone, or photographs, can describe the exquisiteness of this place.

We were lucky to spend two nights in sanctuary JA2, a moon level accommodation, which is considered to be a mid-level sanctuary slightly more glamorous and expansive than the star sanctuaries but less so than the sun sanctuaries. A missing fourth wall, a unique Troubetzkoy concept offered in all levels of accommodation at Anse Chatanet/Jade Mountain, offered a direct, head on view of the Pitons rising out of the Caribbean sea, with puffy white clouds settled above the peaks like billows of smoke. Troubetzkoy skillfully designed the place allowing guests to see out, becoming one with nature, while nobody can see in; offering guests a profound sense of freedom, connection to nature and total privacy.

The cloud formations in St. Lucia are awesome, and the vision of the twin peaks rising out of the vast turquoise sea is awe inspiring. All of the moon and sun rooms at Jade Mountain feature a large private infinity edge pool that literally spills out over the side of the resort, and creates an illusion of infinite expansion and oneness with the surrounding jungle and sea. Immediately following our arrival we were handed a tiny cell phone with two buttons- one with a female symbol and the other, a male. We were informed that the female button rings reception and the male button rings our personal Major Duomo, Vito, who is there to cater to our every whim. During our stay we cycled between two different Major Duomos, Vito and Okita, and both were as warm and gregarious as personal friends.

A king sized bed ensconced in mosquito netting faces the missing fourth wall beside the infinity pool, inviting guests to rise in the morning and take a refreshing plunge before starting the day. I loved waking to a view of the sunrise and the proud twin peaks standing tall in the distance. One of Troubetzkoy’s many brilliant creations is his innovative fusion of color, light and glass. Each pool is made of recyclable iridescent glass tiles and each sanctuary features a different color, from red to amber, plum, and stunning shades of blue and green. Our pool was a soothing turquoise color, and I was especially intrigued with the rotating light allowing guests to select their favorite color (or alternating colors) to light up the pool at night. Adjacent to the pool was a sitting area where lounge chairs offered an ideal spot for sunbathing (birthday suits acceptable) or watching the sunset. Further inside the sanctuary was a comfortable living area with sofa, table and chairs.

The staff members at Jade Mountain, and in fact all the people we encountered in St. Lucia, were incredibly warm, attentive and genuine. On the night of our arrival we were invited to the manager’s welcome party on the roof of Jade Mountain, where we enjoyed the pleasure of meeting Karolin Troubetzkoy. Ms. Troubetzkoy clearly enjoys interacting with her guests and making them feel welcome, as she also made an appearance on the second night of our stay at the Caribbean buffet down on the beach at the Anse Chastanet beach restaurant, where a steel drum band mingled with sound of the waves gently breaking against the shore. We enjoyed talking with Kashmie, the Director of Operations, and Peter John Paul, the Executive Assistant Manager who works closely with both resorts and handles the wedding planning. Peter John Paul was gracious and patient as he shared interesting trivia about the resorts and explained the ease with which a bride and groom may plan a wedding at Anse Chastanet/Jade Mountain. After the date is confirmed Peter John Paul handles the rest, from coordinating the cake and champagne to the flowers, music and photographer. Bride and groom may choose from a variety of wedding locations, ranging from the beach to the Jade Mountain Club (limited to Jade Mountain guests) or a private ceremony inside their personal sanctuary. I wish planning my own wedding had been this hassle free!

My favorite hangout was the beach at Anse Chastanet, where guests are provided with comfortable lounges, thatched roof huts, and a flag to raise whenever restaurant/bar service is desired. Anse Chastanet offers a casual beachside bar and restaurant, which in the evenings is converted to a more upscale Indian restaurant. This was my favorite of all the restaurants at Anse Chastanet/Jade Mountain, and there are several good options to choose from. On our first night we dined on the roof at the Jade Mountain Club with an expansive view of the sea, where in the light of day, one can see all the way to St. Vincent. The service was impeccable and the food delicious, with fresh fish entrees, seafood antipasto, and many other delicacies to enjoy. Despite our wedding/travel fatigue, we enjoyed a luxurious four course meal complete with dessert. For my birthday, my husband Glenn arranged a private dinner for two on the beach at Anse Chastanet. The staff set up a special tent for us, with a table for two surrounded by tiki torches, where we dined on warm naan, spicy chicken curry and fresh fish wrapped in a banana leaf. It was my favorite experience of the entire week. The only complaint I have about Anse Chastanet/Jade Mountain is that i had to leave. Thank you Nick and Karolin, for you have given us the gift of so many cherished memories.

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