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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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.

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!

A Visit To Auriga Spa At Capella Marigot Bay

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As the newest member of the Capella Hotels family, there is so much of Saint Lucia and Capella that I am excited to share with you!  I thought it would be fun to start with one of my favorite destinations, Auriga spa at Capella Marigot Bay Resort and Marina.  It has become an immediate favorite spot for guests and it is easy to see why.

spa1Nestled in its own private section of the resort, Auriga spa holds the key to ultimate relaxation and bliss.

spa17With a warm and friendly smile, the therapists at Auriga spa are knowledgeable and always ready to guide you in your spa experience. When I came in with sunburnt skin, they helped me choose the right treatment for me and tailored it to help heal my burn. They even sent me home with some cooling aloe and mint gel and invaluable advice on how to prevent future sunburns.  I was so thankful to have their guidance and care!

spa2In the lounge area, I had the opportunity to enjoy some Mint Chlorophyll Water which has a long list of impressive health benefits: it helps cleanse the liver, helps the body heal faster, has antiseptic benefits, removes toxins and heavy metals, helps build healthy blood cells and increases the disease resistance of cells. It also happens to be delicious and incredibly refreshing!

spa6Each spa cabana is private and serene with a view of lush foliage since Auriga spa is ensconced in a captivating array of St. Lucian flora.

spa15In fact, it boasts a bonafide garden complete with St. Lucian almonds, mint, basil, and many more aromatic herbs that the team at Auriga will gladly share with you.

While enjoying some much needed waterfall hot tub time, Miss Lune (or Spa Mama as she is lovingly referred to by everyone at Auriga) brought us freshly picked St. Lucian almonds that taste better than any almond I’ve ever had. Such lovely little gestures bring the experience at Auriga to all new heights!

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spa11Once I’d experienced the hot tub, steam room and sauna, my therapist treated me to the perfect massage. Free of all the tension that had built up in my muscles, I felt better than I had in a long time. Mental, spiritual and physical wellness is a primary focus of the Auriga spa philosophy and I definitely felt that after my treatment.

I also went home with a great tip from the therapists that I want to share with you now, especially with summer coming up! We know Aloe Vera gel is an amazing after-sun treatment for your skin, but you can take it to the next level by keeping it in the refrigerator. The innate therapeutic and conditioning properties of the Aloe will get to work healing your skin while the cool temperature of the gel will draw heat out of your skin providing you with instant relief. Reapply as necessary.

Make sure to schedule a visit to Auriga spa at Capella Marigot Bay Resort and Marina during your visit to Saint Lucia.  Your Personal Assistant can work out all the details, so that you too can discover the amazing and healing treatments!

Take A Catamaran Sunset Cruise To The Pitons

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Saint Lucia is a gorgeous island and one of the best ways to take in and enjoy all the stunning sights it has to offer, is by sea! Thankfully, Capella Marigot Bay is also a Marina, making it extra easy to find the perfect boating experience to suit your desires.

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One of my personal favorites is the Catamaran Sunset Cruise to the Pitons! The catamaran is a special type of boat whose wide base allows for faster sailing while providing ultimate comfort for passengers. This makes for an enjoyable experience where you can whisk along the water’s surface without excessive dipping and bobbing, something that lends itself really well to ideal snap shots and minimal drink spillage. And that will come in handy since it’s the sunset cruise is open bar with delicious rum punch, sparkling wine and even some of St. Lucia’s own lager, Piton Beer.

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The Pitons tower majestically above seemingly springing out of the sea itself and the Catamaran Sunset Cruise takes you right in between Petit Piton and Gros Piton. This also happens to be the location of a National Marine Reserve and so the catamaran stops for 45 minutes allowing passengers to snorkel and see some underwater Saint Lucian wonders!

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While the catamaran is stopped, the bar opens. Passengers can lounge and take in the sights while enjoying a cocktail and chatting with each other. As the sun begins to dip towards the horizon and the sunset lighting starts to set in, the crew plays some Caribbean dance music and the party begins.

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Some people dance while others lounge, sip on drinks and watch the merriment! The entire experience easily becomes an unforgettable memory shared with newfound friends who wave goodbye as the catamaran drops you back off at Capella Marinasunsetcruise8

Be sure to let your Capella Marigot Bay Personal Assistant know if you would like to take a Catamaran Sunset Cruise and everything will be set up for you! Get ready for a gorgeous and fun-filled experience that will yield amazing photos and lifelong memories.

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