A Visit To A Cocoa Plantation in Saint Lucia

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Ah, chocolate! If you’re anything like me, it is more of a necessity than a luxury. Needless to say, I love treating myself to one of the many decadent chocolate desserts at Capella Marigot Bay. So when I found out I could visit a Cocoa Plantation and discover just how chocolate is made, I couldn’t resist!

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Our guide, Cuthbert, knew everything there is to know about cocoa! There are three different types of cocoa beans, Criollo, Forastero and Trinitario. Trinitario is a hybrid of the first two and Criollo is the rarest because the trees are not as robust. Forastero is the most common type of bean and is the one most commonly used in the chocolate we usually eat!

Cocoa beans grow only in tropical climates, making St. Lucia the perfect place to farm all three varieties! The pods can differ greatly in color from green to light yellow to dark red depending on the type. The color of the pod can also reflect its state of maturity.

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I was surprised to discover that the beans inside the pod are encased in a white pulp!

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In St. Lucia, they call these “Jungle M&Ms” because the pulp is actually delicious! I was so surprised when I tried it for the first time because the resulting tangy sweet flavor is incredibly enjoyable so Jungle M&Ms are now one of my favorite refreshing and healthy snacks.

But the pulp also plays an important role in the early process of cocoa creation because it helps the beans ferment.

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Once the beans have sufficiently fermented, they are placed out in the sun to dry.

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I was so impressed to see how diligently they keep the beans dry at this stage. Even the slightest sprinkle and the beans are covered immediately!

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I also learned that cocoa trees take 3 to 5 years to start producing pods and because of that, a horticultural technique called grafting is used to help trees grow faster and sturdier! I got to create my very own graft which was later planted in the ground and will one day become a productive cocoa tree. Visitors who create their own grafts get to name their tree!

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But before the grafts are transplanted for cocoa production, they live in a lovely little green house, where they are protected from the elements.

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While at the Cocoa Plantation, they taught me how to make my very own chocolate.  Don’t worry, I’ll be sharing that recipe with you next time!  But until then, treat yourself to some high qualit

y dark chocolate. Not only is it delicious, it’s also healthy. In a study done at the University of Copenhagen in 2008, they discovered that participants who ate dark chocolate had less cravings for junk food.  Chocolate is also high in antioxidants and theobromine, which can help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease.  The higher the percentage of cocoa, the better it is for you. Aim for 55% and above depending on your taste preference.  With so many health benefits, I guess there is no need to feel guilty about my chocolate obsession!

To plan your own cocoa tour, just let your Capella Marigot Bay Personal Assistant know.  They will be happy to plan a visit to a cocoa plantation here in Saint Lucia.  Definitely a sweet experience!

Spend a Day at the Saint Lucia Botanical Gardens

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Botanical Gardens are among my favorite places to visit. All the most interesting flora of a given region together in one space is a veritable smorgasbord of nature!

When you visit Capella Marigot Bay, I highly recommend asking your Capella Personal Assistant to set up a visit to the Saint Lucia Botanical Gardens for you. Located in Soufriére, the island’s volcanic region, the Botanical Gardens house one of St. Lucia’s most famous waterfalls, Diamond Falls.

The water is dark with mineral rich volcanic soot making the waterfall that much  more interesting to look at. And since since there is no swimming in Diamond Falls, I was able to get beautiful shots of this stunning natural landmark!

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In addition to seeing one of the most beautiful waterfalls, I was blown away by the interesting plants and flowers. No one does interesting flora quite like tropical islands!

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Torch Ginger

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Heliconia

From the torch ginger flower to the heliconia, red hot cat tails to jade vine, each breed of flower is exquisitely bright and brilliantly colorful. Fascinating trees like the Walking Tree, which starts out in one location and migrates on its own by “walking” to a new location, can be seen as well!

A Walking Tree

A Walking Tree

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Red Hot Cat Tails

The jade vine was my favorite because it’s so rare to see a naturally occurring aqua-hued flower!

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Jade Vine

Another interesting discover, was the Castor bean.  I was interested to learn that this bean, has two distinct identities.  First, it is the source of Castor Oil, which has long been recognized for its many medicinal uses.  However the bean also has a much more sinister characteristic as it is the source of Ricin (for Breaking Bad fans, this was Walter White’s favorite poison).  Our guide, Jahrod, opened a pod for us to see the bean inside. An interesting fact, while the bean itself is poisonous if ingested due to the Ricin toxin found inside, you never need worry about Castor Oil being poisonous, as Ricin is water-soluble.  I love the duality of this single bean!

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Castor Bean

 

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My visit to the Botanical Gardens was a wonderful experience. I learned so much about St. Lucian flora and being surrounded by so much nature left me feeling refreshed.

After the Botanical Gardens, we went to Sapphire Falls, located in the same volcanic region ,where we were able to bathe in the volcanic mineral rich water of the falls! You can read my previous blog post about Sapphire Falls here! Enjoy and be sure to make plans to visit during your trip to Saint Lucia!

Capella Marigot Bay’s Rum Goddess Cocktail

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RumGoddessHere at Capella Marigot Bay, the baristas at The Rum Cave are renowned for their delicious cocktails both on and off the menu! But there’s one cocktail that has become a favorite among visitors and it is aptly named, The Rum Goddess.

When I tried it for the first time I was blown away. It’s refreshing and tropical, just like a Caribbean island! I asked Gavin to teach me how to make it, and I’m going to teach you here today:

RG1 Ingredients:
Fresh Mint
1 ounce Ginger Syrup
1 ounce Cream
1 ounce Coconut Cream
2 ounces El Dorado Rum
Angostura Bitters

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RG7Directions:
Place the mint, ginger syrup, cream, coconut cream and the El Dorado Rum together into the shaker. Muddle everything together so the mint releases it’s flavor!

RG8Next, add ice and shake very well! The shaker should get frosty on the outside.

RG9Strain ingredients into a glass.

RG10Now you’re ready for the bitters!

RG11Drizzle them on top and add a sprig of mint for garnish!

RG12Cheers! You’ve made The Rum Goddess Cocktail! Sit back, relax and let the flavors take you on a little escape to the Caribbean. And when you get a chance to visit The Rum Cave, we’ll have one waiting.

Spend A Magical Day At Sapphire Falls

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edit_MG_1285Soufriere, the volcanic region of St. Lucia, is well-known for its gorgeous waterfalls and naturally occurring hot springs.  If you’re anything like me, tropical island vacations go hand-in-hand with some up close and personal time with a waterfall, so I am extremely excited to share Sapphire Falls with you!

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Nestled in a stunning, private area of rich foliage, Sapphire Falls is exclusive to guests of Capella Marigot Bay. Instead of following the vans of tourists heading to nearby Sulphur Springs, our guide, Jahrod, led us off the beaten path. We walked through a nature trail lined with native St. Lucian flora.

edit_MG_1270The walk was idyllic, as we passed some smaller streams along the way with mini-waterfalls.  Jahrod informed us that the water is dark because it is laden with mineral rich volcanic ash! Since it’s coming from La Soufriere, St. Lucia’s volcano, the water is warm!

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Arriving at Sapphire Falls is like entering a tropical dream-come-true. Everything you’d ever wanted to experience on a Caribbean island is right before you.  I found myself just wanting to take it all in.  After plunging beneath the waterfall and slathering our skin in mud from volcanic ash, we spent some time relaxing in the sulphur spring pool and taking in our surroundings while eating fresh mangos.

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To actually have a place like this all to ourselves and experience it without interference is such a rarity. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity. When you visit St. Lucia, you must go to Sapphire Falls! It will become a cherished memory and a wonderful bonding experience to share with your favorite people.

edit_MG_1310Pictured above is our guide, Jahrod. He is incredibly knowledgeable about all things St. Lucia. You will love meeting him!edit_MG_1280Everyone deserves to experience nature on this scale and I hope you have the opportunity to visit Sapphire Falls soon! Your Capella Marigot Bay Personal Assistant will arrange all the details for visiting this stunning location.

In the meantime, I recommend pampering yourself with a mud mask either at home or at the spa! Your skin will feel rejuvenated and baby soft. Enjoy!

Discover Indo-Chinese Fusion Dining in Saint Lucia

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masalabaySitting at the edge of Capella Marigot Bay’s Marina Village, lofted on the second floor with a stunning view of Marigot is one of my new favorite restaurants, Masala Bay!

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I visited the restaurant before it was open to the public and learned the cuisine would be Indian Chinese fusion. Having never before tried a fusion of my two favorite cuisines, I was understandably excited and to become Masala Bay’s first official customer when they opened their doors to the public!

final-IMG_8641I loved the look of Masala Bay right away. Bright and colorful with gorgeous Indian details create the perfect atmosphere. The owner, Chef Adil Sherwani, said he wanted the restaurant to “be a story, an experience.” And he has definitely succeeded!

final_MG_1398Dinner began how most great dinners should always begin, with excellent wine.  I ordered both Indian and Chinese dishes, wanting to fully experience the combination of these two cuisines.

final_MG_2881It was love at first bite. Each dish was exquisitely seasoned and full of flavor. The combination of these two cuisines couldn’t possibly be more harmonious. I was elated!

final_MG_1389In addition to the delicious food, the setting was beautiful. At our little corner table on the balcony, we watched the sun set over Marigot Bay. Some moments in life become exquisite memories.final_MG_2877Chef Adil Sherwani has created something truly special with Masala Bay. His other restaurant, Spice of India, is renowned as St. Lucia’s best Indian Cuisine restaurant. Masala Bay shares the attention to detail and high quality standards of Spice of India, but with a cuisine and flavor all its own!final_MG_1395The team Chef Adil has put together is as skilled as they are friendly and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for the lovely experience! final_MG_1409Head Chef Gorvind Joshi is not only great at running the back of house operations, he is also friendly, fun and outgoing. I thought it was so lovely to receive a visit from him at our table. We chatted a bit and his outgoing nature is evident right away, as is his sincere love and passion for the culinary arts! final_MG_1403I cannot possibly recommend the food and the experience at Masala Bay more highly! When you next find yourself in St. Lucia,  you must give it a try.  And be sure to visit Marina Village located within Capella Marigot Bay Resort and Marina for even more unforgettable experiences.

In the meantime, find the closest Indo-Chinese fusion restaurant to your neighborhood and treat yourself to a culinary journey! Living the good life means eating great food. That is the True Capella way.

Zip Line Adventures In The St. Lucian Rain Forest

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St. Lucia has a myriad of fun, adventurous activities and as the Capella Marigot Bay Insider, I am thrilled to share one of my favorites: the zip line!

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It all began at Rainforest Adventures St. Lucia where I was outfitted in a harness and helmet (safety first!). My group and I were assigned to two guides who took us through out rainforest adventure and back again.

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The aerial tram brought us through the five layers of the rainforest up to the rainforest canopy. The guides were extremely knowledgeable and told us all about the various trees and plants that thrive in each layer of the rainforest.

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After the aerial tram, we had the chance to hike through the rainforest which let us experience its splendor up close and personal. I was awe-struck by the grandeur of these pristine natural surroundings.

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The hike brought us to the first platform where we began our zip line adventure. Each platform is a bit like a treehouse and the only way to get back to the ground is by zip lining from one treetop platform to the next! But don’t worry, while it’s definitely a thrill, the guides are great at putting you at ease. They’re fun-loving attitude coupled with the fact that they’ve done this hundreds of times helped me conquer my fear of heights and I felt a wonderful sense of accomplishment. For seasoned zip-liners and adventure-seekers, there are always ways to make the experience even more thrilling. Just ask the guides who are well-versed in going upside down, backwards, hands-free and even offer zip line experiences at night!

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I loved how I felt part of the rainforest canopy. Unencumbered by a structure I felt completely free, like one of the rainforest birds flitting from treetop to treetop.

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The last zip line is the longest because it’s the one that brings you back to the ground. This was my favorite part of the course because it gets a bit bouncy, adding another element to the experience.

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Just because the zip lining is finished, doesn’t mean the fun had to end!  The hike back to the aerial tram is another opportunity to experience the beauty of the rainforest. St. Lucia has done a great job of making sure the rainforest stays as untouched as possible. And when we took the aerial tram back to the foothills, we were treated to the most magnificent view!

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I can’t thank the team at Rainforest Adventures St. Lucia enough for their fun and professional attitude and spirit. They’ve truly created something special.

If zip lining is something you would like to do while visiting St. Lucia, don’t forget to tell your Capella Marigot Bay Personal Assistant who will be able to set everything up for you!

And in the mean time, try to experience a little daily adventure. It will help you appreciate life and your loved ones every single day!