Splashing out: Josh Cutherbert and bride-to-be Chloe Lloyd stroll in the surf of St Lucia
I have very happy childhood memories of family holidays in St Lucia, so when I got engaged to Chloe I really wanted us to go there. I knew she would be bowled over by it.
The Sandals Resort was the perfect romantic place to stay. The ‘no-kids’ rule means that the place has a much more relaxing vibe, perfect for a couples holiday.
Another attraction was that our resort, Sandals Grande St Lucian, has new over-the-water bungalows with glass floor panels that allow you to look down into the sea.
They also have outside hot tubs, over-water hammocks and the services of a butler who can organise restaurant bookings or serve you an in-suite breakfast – complete with a champagne mimosa or a bloody Mary – or arrange a picnic. I began to wonder how I’d managed all my life without my own butler…
I always set out on a holiday intending to relax completely, but I don’t always stay chilled out for long. I get itchy feet. So one of the great attractions of Sandals is the amount of activities available: canoeing, kayaking, sailing, snorkelling, windsurfing, waterskiing, aquatriking, paddle-boarding, scuba-diving and knee-boarding, to name a few. And for the less energetic, there’s the swim-up pool bars in five different pools.
St Lucia has ‘Stay at One, Play at Three’ privileges; as guests of Sandals Grande St Lucian we could use the amenities and services at its other St Lucia resorts: Regency La Toc and Halcyon Beach.
From St Lucia airport it took about 90 minutes to get to our resort; it must be the most scenic airport transfer in the world, taking us through forests of banana trees with stunning views of the sea and mountains.
Once we’d checked in, our first task was to get something to eat. Our resort had no fewer than 12 restaurants to choose from – plus access to the 15 restaurants at the two other Sandals properties. Chloe may be a model but she doesn’t seem to have to worry too much about her diet.
Romantic resort: Sandals Grande St Lucian pictured in all its glory under the golden sun
Both of us love Asian food – particularly sushi – which is available at the resort at a new restaurant called Soy.
We’ve eaten at some really nice Japanese restaurants in London and across the world, and Soy is up there as one of the best – absolutely top-notch.
We also loved the Indian restaurant Bombay, serving what I suppose you might call a posh curry: again, fabulous. So we quickly settled into a daily round of eating and enjoying a little sport.
We both went on snorkelling trips, while I also had a go at water volleyball, playing with American guests. Chloe was there on the sidelines to cheer me on.
Stand-up paddle-boarding has become our favourite holiday pastime: Chloe is a lot better at it than me. She’s a lot more nimble, probably because she’s lighter, so it’s a bit easier for her to keep her balance – that’s what I say anyway.
Loved-up: The newly-engaged couple smile for the camera after dining on the beach
Another favourite activity for us was visiting the spa. A massage was essential, especially as I’ve been suffering with a bad shoulder recently so I was grateful for a little remedial therapy.
One of the things that particularly impressed us was the night-time entertainment. We really liked Arthur and his band who performed hit after hit. After a few drinks everybody would be joining in a great singalong. It was great talking to him about music and bands – we’ve been in touch since we came back.
I resisted the temptation to get up and perform. After a couple of drinks I lose any bit of a singing voice that I have. It’s a running joke. On my last birthday, we booked a really cool room with a karaoke machine. When I had my go, following a few drinks, I sounded like one of those X Factor contestants who come on and people laugh at. That was me. So, no, I didn’t want to take the risk…
Making a splash: The Sandals resort’s villa deck literally stretches out over the waves
On our previous holiday, we’d been to Dubai which is primarily about big-name restaurants and busy nightlife (I call Dubai ‘London with a beach…’). St Lucia is different: you have the Caribbean, for a start, and palm trees and wildlife… just a different, more relaxing vibe.
The Sandals resort has everything you need, so there’s no reason to leave the property. We didn’t venture out the whole week.
Perhaps our greatest pleasure was our over-the-water bungalow. It was a thrill to open our curtains every morning and gaze out over the deep blue sea. We also spent a surprising amount of time peering through what we called our see-through floor. At night it’s surprising how many fish you can see – there’s a light you can turn on and there they are. It’s fabulous.
The butler service makes the holiday special. We had two butlers, Michael and Karen, and they were incredible.
Interior view: The venue’s over-the-water villa is one of their most popular bookings
Sandals (sandals.co.uk, 0800 597 0002) offers seven nights at Sandals Grande St Lucian in an Over- the-Water Private Island Butler Honeymoon Bungalow from £5,955pp.
This includes Luxury Included (all-inclusive) accommodation and return flights from Gatwick and transfers.
Since I’ve been home I’ve played online with Michael at Fifa – he is a massive Manchester United fan, and I’m a big Chelsea fan, so we had a lot of football chat.
Chloe’s favourite part of the holiday was splashing around in the sea and looking for good places to take photographs.
Taking pictures is a big part of the holiday: Chloe has 250,000 followers on Instagram and I think I’ve got about 450,000. We don’t just use our phones: we’ve got an Olympus PEN Generation camera, as well as a Sony.
The biggest challenge all the time is taking pictures that we’re both in – I use a ten-second timer which means I have to dash from the camera to get in the right position: I rely on Chloe to make sure I’m in the right place.
We have thousands of photographs. It will be something to look at when we get older…