I’m lying flat on my back by the private pool of my St. Lucia villa, blissfully alone except for the two hummingbirds that just landed on my flip-flops.
Like all nine villas and 16 suites at the Ladera resort where I’m staying, my villa has only three walls, so when I’m inside I’m really outside, and vice versa. From my open-air living room, bedroom and shower, there’s nothing blocking my view of the bright blue sky and the turquoise Caribbean framed by the island’s pointy-tipped Piton mountains. This scene is so preposterously romantic, I should be having a torrid affair on my four-poster, mosquito-netted bed. But right now it’s just me and the hummingbirds, and four would be a crowd.
St. Lucia attracts a lot of honeymooners, and on the north side of the island—full of busy, couples-oriented resorts—a solo traveler can get all kinds of perplexed looks. Here on the quiet south side there’s more of a free-spirited, live-and-let-live vibe. A few posh resorts, like Ladera and nearby Anse Chastanet, are tucked into the hillsides, but there’s a frontier feeling about this part of the island, a sense that someone could get happily lost here. At the same time, there’s the sense that—for better or worse—St. Lucia is turning into the Caribbean’s next It island, and everything may be about to change.