Island in the Sun

Sugar Beach has made Saint Lucia a must-visit destination for those with exceptional taste. Now, visitors can also own a slice of paradise

In the mind’s eye, we’re liable to recall Saint Lucia like a postcard: a vision of twin, volcanic peaks scraping perfect azure skies, sailboats zipping by, lush tropical blooms framing the view. But now this veritable paradise can be more than just a vacation, because you can own one of the most exclusive private residences in the world, nestled between two of the most iconic natural land formations on earth.

The Viceroy Sugar Beach resides here in the Val des Pitons, named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2006, so it’s little wonder the French and the British jostled over this 238-square-mile Caribbean island for some 150 years.

A direct Delta flight from Atlanta takes fewer than five hours to travel the 2,000 miles southeast, and a meandering hour’s drive down the mountainside leads you to Sugar Beach, where an attentive butler will help you unpack, book dinner reservations or fetch whatever your heart desires. By the golden hour, you could be at the Bayside Bar, espadrilles unfurled, toes in the warm sand, a flute of fresh passion fruit juice in hand as you nibble small bites such as coconut shrimp and heirloom tomato salad beneath swaying palms.

Fridays here are frequently host to rollicking barbecue buffets featuring a live band, good spirits and feral—but friendly—felines waiting for scraps. Yet the most exciting thing to hit Sugar Beach this year is not the latest concert or tropical storm; it’s The Beachfront Collection—five of the most exclusive private residences in the world.

Designed by Michaelis Boyd, a world-renowned, London-based firm with offices also in New York City, the homes are a feat of modern construction utilizing predominantly natural materials. Cloaked in an overgrowth of exotic plants, their midcentury-inspired, slatted-wood exteriors and serene water features lead the way to hand-troweled plaster walls, well-equipped Italian kitchens and intentionally diminutive bedrooms-with-a-view. Double-height living spaces and exposed rafters let sunlight flood features such as fine furnishings from London’s Taylor Llorente, lighting by New York City artisan Lindsey Adelman and engineered concrete staircases so geometrically precise they could stand alone as sculpture.

Buyers can go totally turnkey, letting Michaelis Boyd design the home of their dreams, or they can suggest a few tweaks. Priced between $8.5 and $15 million apiece, a mere three lots remain, as the first two were immediately scooped up and folded into the resort’s rental program—which, during the high season, can command rates as much as $8,000 per night. If you prefer to test-drive the local lifestyle by more modest means, scores of alternative Sugar Beach lodging options abound, but just imagine, for a moment, waking up to this scene: a warm breeze billowing across your four-poster bed, your infinity pool blending imperceptibly into the sea. Petit Piton soars to the right, and Gros Piton commands the left as a silver breakfast tray laden with local fruits and pain au chocolat is delivered to your sun lounger in style. Come noon, curl up in a cabana (The Beachfront Collection owners get priority access) on Glenconner Beach, a sandy stretch named for the eccentric former companion of Princess Margaret and lord who carved an estate out of this dense jungle during his later years of life.

Resort-like perks are rolled into every aspect of ownership: from transportation by colorful tuk-tuk to multicourse meals prepared by private chef. In anticipation of your arrival, bathrooms are laden with luxurious amenities, refrigerators stocked with fresh produce and pantries packed with sundries.

But that shouldn’t keep you from sampling the The Pier Bar’s smorgasbord of shoreside snacks or savoring an elegant meal at the Great Room, where fare is prepared under the direction of esteemed French chef Jacques Chretien.

Rise in the morning for a rigorous nature hike, join a yoga class or take a tennis lesson with a pro before ambling to the open-air Terrace restaurant, where a breakfast buffet comes with plenty of offerings à la carte and, on a lucky day, celeb sightings such as Richard Branson and Bill Gates, who’ve been known to sojourn in this place.

You may choose to charter a helicopter or private plane to visit friends on one of Saint Lucia’s neighboring isles—nearby Mustique and Barbados each take fewer than 45 minutes to reach—while those who prefer travel by boat will be happy to know that Jalousie Bay features one of the Caribbean’s deepest natural anchorages, while nearby Rodney Bay is able to accommodate everything from a humble catamaran to a hulking mega yacht.

Fish for local catch (marlin, sailfish, tuna, kingfish, mackerel, wahoo and mahi-mahi, to name a few), or set out for a half day’s sail with Sugar Beach’s talented culinary team in tow. Drop anchor to dive into the shimmering sea (take comfort that these pristine waters are protected as a National Marine Reserve) and swim to a pebble-strewn beach. Or sign up for scuba or snorkeling through the PADI Dive Center to explore the pitons’ coral-clad walls. Even little ones can keep occupied while you frolic in paradise—with activities ranging from archery to treasure hunts.

Such an afternoon can only be followed by a visit to the Rainforest Spa—constructed from Carib materials for an authentic vibe. Traversing the long corridor to its interconnected series of stilted huts is a zen moment to end them all, and each of the seven private tree house rooms an opportunity to indulge in European massage and exotic skin treatments utilizing native plant extracts and local cocoa butter that smells as sweet as Biscoff cookies.

A more deluxe version of the sulfuric mud baths beloved by locals will leave you looking five years younger, so take your barefaced glow and bronzed shoulders to The Cane Bar for world-class sushi and a taste of island nightlife. One sip of the creative cocktails is cause to cast off the bowlines and bid adieu to the life you’ve known … at least for a few months of the year. Because the best-laid plans tend to go out the window when paradise is home.