How would you like to spend a week in paradise in your own mansion, complete with butler, chef and a host of other luxurious perks? No, you don’t have to sign up as a contestant on “The Bachelor/Bachelorette” or have a last name like Trump or Kardashian.
Even savvy travelers named Smith or Jones, if they plan their trip wisely, can check into CHIC Mansion, a private property within the enclave of the adults-only Royalton Resort in Punta Cana.
The two-story, 11,500-square-foot residence has accommodations for up to 12 people in six en suite bedrooms, two of which have large terraces complete with jacuzzi pools.
With sleek architecture resembling a modern hacienda, the mansion’s common areas provide a showcase for elegant minimalist design. A large living room with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooks a secluded courtyard with pool and hot tub, while one side boasts a full kitchen and dining room, and the other, a game room and bar (where an on-call bartender is available to serve a wide range of top-shelf brands).
With such amenities, one might be forgiven for thinking it out of reach for all but the one percent. During low season (mid-April to end of October) however, you and 11 of your best friends will pay $3,500 per night for rent of the mansion (about $300 each which is the nightly equivalent of many urban luxury hotels; in high season, the rate goes up to $5,200 per night).
While not inexpensive, consider what you get. First, the attentions of a private butler who will perform services ranging from drawing a nightly bath of foaming bubbles and rose petals to providing 24-hour room service.
Then there’s the nine-course dinner prepared one evening by a personal chef; butler service in private cabanas on the property’s Uvero Alto Beach, and a 30-minute complimentary treatment in one of the Caribbean’s most unique spa settings (try the Rain Drops massage, and by all means, experience the cold and hot pools of the hydrotherapy room).
As a member of the Royalton’s Diamond Club, CHIC mansion guests get access to a number of unique features such as glamorous parties in alluring locales. At the Mermaid Pool, you can watch a mermaid swim laps while you sip champagne, or you can sign up for a cigar rolling workshop in the Lobby Bar — when it comes to cigars, the Dominican Republic is the new Cuba.
Do try the Detox Oxygen Bar, one of two on the island. Choose the feeling you want to experience; attach a plastic tube in your nostrils and breathe deeply for 15 minutes — voila, the feeling of choice envelops you.
I was tempted by the Pina Colada, a mixture of pineapple and coconut that promised a festive, jovial feeling, but decided that was better experienced by mouth through a cocktail glass than by nose through a tube.
I opted instead for the lavender/balsam fir needles for calming and soothing. At the end of the allotted time, I was indeed calmed and soothed. However, I wasn’t sure if my feeling of euphoria resulted from detoxing with the oxygen or just detoxing from stress at Royalton’s CHIC Mansion.
Sugar and spice and everything nice in St. Lucia
St. Lucia has always been one of my favorite Caribbean islands. Its lush beauty, coupled with the genuine friendliness of its people, make it a top draw for travelers. It also has one of my favorite Caribbean properties.
What was once the 18th century Jalousie Sugar Plantation is now the Viceroy Sugar Beach Resort. Very few properties in the world can boast the natural beauty of its setting, sandwiched between the twin Piton Mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, surrounded by 100 acres of lush tropical rainforest, and facing a beach that looks as if it’s made of spun sugar.
Accommodations, including luxury guestrooms, villas and bungalows (also staffed with a butler), are spread throughout the sprawling property ensuring the ultimate in privacy. Many have decks with plunge pools which provide the perfect setting for watching sunrises and sunsets, and admiring the night skies filled with more stars than most of us have ever seen.
As far as dining options go, you’ll never have to leave Sugar Beach to get a world-class experience. From casual (a beachside barbecue with all the trimmings) to elegant (The Great Room for gourmet on a lavish scale), Sugar Beach offers every kind of dining imaginable. I tried them all, but my favorite had to be the Cane Bar, a specialty rum bar which doubled as a sushi restaurant in a setting more reminiscent of New York, London or Miami than the Caribbean.
Like CHIC Mansion at the Royalton, Sugar Beach has a spa that is a cut way above the average. While the Royalton’s resembles a luxurious Roman bath, Sugar Beach’s Rainforest Spa is comprised of tree houses nestled high in what else … a rainforest.
If you need action, your butler can arrange a number of island tours, from an excursion to Soufrière Volcano to the Botanical Gardens with a trek up to Diamond Waterfall. I did both, but what I really loved was taking advantage of all that Sugar Beach had to offer, from a private yoga class under a shaded pavilion to snorkeling on a spectacular reef accessible right from the beach.
But what I enjoyed most of all were late evenings on my balcony sipping a glass of wine, and experiencing the best show St. Lucia had to offer — all those stars accompanied by a symphony of warbling tree frogs. Talk about paradise revisited.
Rates range from $425 per night for a luxury guest room to $1,001 per night for a bungalow. While Sugar Beach is not all-inclusive, you can arrange for the meal plan, which includes all meals with certain restrictions. What there is no restriction on is the genuine friendliness of the staff, intent on making your wish their command.
Patti Nickell is a Lexington-based travel and food writer. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.