My recent visit to St Lucia included a 3 night stay at the all-inclusive St James Club Morgan Bay. This is a family friendly, beachfront resort located in Gros Islet, between Castries and Rodney Bay. It’s about a 90min drive from the airport in Hewanorra to the south. It’s a scenic drive as you come up the east coast and through the rain forest. So you’re passing small fishing villages, banana plantations and beautiful vegetation.
I arrived to the hotel rather late, about 8PM when most guests are in the restaurants. Check-in was a bit old school, filled out a few forms and told to come back at some point so they can run my card. I had VIP dinner reservations that evening at Bambou – one of the ala carte specialty restaurants. Now normally when you arrive, guests are advised to eat dinner that evening in The Palms restaurant which is the main buffet (breakfast, lunch and dinner daily). Then the next day you can stop by the hospitality desk to make reservations for either Bambou or Le Jardin for other nights during your stay.
DINING: Meals in the main buffet, The Palms, are what you’d expect of a buffet. There were ample hot and cold choices including a cooked-to-order omelette station. I’ve never been to a buffet where I was really wowed by the food. When you’re cooking for masses of people you can’t get super creative or complicated. The key to enjoying a buffet is to arrive just as the restaurant opens so that your food is fresh and hot. The restaurant typically opened for dinner at 6P and since I have kids at home I’m used to eating earlier so this was fine for me. They do change the menu each evening to a different theme (Italian, French, Asian etc.).
Bambou is one of the ala carte restaurants offering breakfast, light lunch options, Brittish afternoon tea and dinner. Dinner is Asian-Caribbean inspired cuisine. This restaurant is the closest to the ocean so it’s quite lovely in the evening with those sea breezes and the sounds of the waves nearby. The menu is not incredibly large but the food was quite good.
Le Jardin is the French-Creole specialty restaurant that is open for dinner. There is a $35 per person surcharge for this restaurant which is added to your room bill. This is also the only restaurant in a building with AC. They’ve set the mood well with dim lighting, white table clothes, live classical piano music and very attentive service. Personally, I love the french-creole inspired foods (fresh seafood dishes, hints of spice with lots of veggies) and so I thought this restaurant was well worth the surcharge. There is also a nice wine list ($) available. I don’t know if it’s the norm but the night I was there the pianist was playing all 80’s classic rock and people were humming along which made it kind of fun. That gentleman was super talented.
There are additional dining choices like the Plum Tree Bar & Grill in the Kid Pool area (quick burgers, chicken tenders, paninis, ice cream etc..) which is perfect for families looking for a quick and easy lunch. Morgan’s Pier Restaurant was not available while I was there but is known for their fresh seafood and fantastic views.
I will make note that there are cats all over the place. Not just at this resort but I saw them at all of the resorts I went to. They tend to show up at night when it’s dinner time and do wander around freely. The resorts all actively try to collect them and take them to the local vet where there is an initiative to try to get them fixed and adopted out. It didn’t bother me particularly but I mention it because it’s not just at this resort but throughout the island. Just ignore them and move on. If anything it helps keep the rodent and lizard population down.
ROOMS: This is one of the larger resorts that I saw on the island with 320 rooms and suites spread out in several hillside buildings. While this resort is beachfront and almost all of the rooms offer some kind of a view, the room blocks are not directly beachfront. There is quite a bit of walking involved at this property. Thankfully the staff has several golf carts readily available to whisk you to any part of the resort. I was in a 1 bedroom ocean view room in one of the blocks closest to the ocean so the views were really nice. I could easily see out over the entire resort including the gardens, pools, restaurants and beach. On the flip side, I could also hear all the noise. There is live music every night at the pool bar that goes until 11P. I would imagine if I was in a garden room on the other side of the tennis courts, this may not be an issue. So something to take note of if you like to retire early or traveling with little ones. I found the rooms to be very spacious, well decorated with large balconies and sufficient bathrooms.
SERVICE & ENTERTAINMENT: As far as entertainment, the main pool and bar is where it is at. It’s the central hang out spot to enjoy music, a drink at the swim-up bar, meet new friends, play some games or just soak up the sunshine. For the kiddos, there is a separate family friendly pool area with a few slides, ample loungers and the Plum Tree Bar & Grill for snacks and a light lunch. Just next to the pool area is a large open kid’s zone with a play ground and open lawn area to burn off some energy. In the winter months there is a kid’s club with scheduled activities that are age appropriate.
Free WIFI is available in the lobby and pool bar. You can also get internet in your room for $10 p/day which is really reasonable. It’s always amazing to me to see literally 50 people in the lobby on their device checking emails and what not. I was guilty of it too. I think it just goes to show how hard it is for us to truly unplug and relax. I read once that it takes a solid 2 days for us to let go of every day stress to START enjoying a vacation. Then the last day you’re usually worried about getting home. All the more reason to take a longer holiday to make sure you get enough time to recharge your batteries!
I found all of the staff from the front desk, lobby/cart attendants, restaurant and bar team etc. to be very friendly. Service is a bit slow but again to be expected. This is island life and you’re on vacation. Sit down and relax. If it takes 5 min for your drink, be patient. I don’t know if the St James staff is trained to be inquisitive of their guests or if it’s just the natural openness of the St Lucian people but they always had a warm smile, asked how my day was going, what hotels I saw that day, did I need anything, did I talk to my kids that day etc. They remember you and want you to have a good time on their little slice of paradise.
The beach is small and cove like. St Lucia is not known for having long stretches of sandy beach as most of the coast line is rocky. The beach at St James was nice for this size resort. There is drink service at the beach and the protective cove layout means you don’t have to worry about vendors coming up to you and hawking their goods. Options are available for non motorized and motorized water sports ($)
All in all I think St James Morgan Bay is a solid 4* resort. Fun, casual, comfortable with excellent dining and entertainment options. This resort would be an ideal spot for families, couples and groups that want a beachfront location.
I was battling overcast skies and drizzles so I don’t have too many photos unfortunately. Here are just a few and of course you can visit the hotel website for specific photos or contact me and I’ll be happy to answer any questions you have!