I think it was a proverbial French kiss between France and the Caribbean that made Martinique an alluring and romantic island. With rolling hills, fancy cars and the accent that rolls off the tongue…it’s the perfect French connection, without having to cross the pond. My escape to Cap Est Lagoon Resort and Spa made Martinique even more appealing.
Situated on the east side of the island in Le François, Cap Est boosts an intimate fifty suites throughout eighteen villas. I found it to be a playground for the sophisticated, with a quiet ambiance that oozes romantic getaway beach retreat. It may not be at the top of your travel hit list, but it should be. It’s a five-star resort that goes beyond stars to meet the needs of their clientele, with attention to detail and impeccable service that translates to repeat visitors year round.
My introduction to the resort came as my driver pulled up to a giant wooden privacy gate; my name was on the list, they were expecting me. As the doors slowly opened, we drove the windy path to the reception area. Greeted with a cool refreshing towel and a glass of the sweetest fruit tea that had been sweetened from the region’s pure sugar cane. I was visiting for lunch, but an impromptu mid-day rain shower forced me to wait in the reception area briefly until the weather cleared.
I had time to stroll the covered grounds and bar, and was struck by the architecture and design. The furniture and style had a strong Creole and Asian feel which was calming and relaxing. I wandered over to an enclave set apart from the reception area to do a little window-shopping. Encased behind sliding glass were available essentials, in case one forgot to pack something important for a French-Caribe escape — like a silk scarf, designer sunglasses or evening apparel.
When there was a break in the rain, Nicholas, a staff member, escorted me to the water’s edge and Le Campêche, for lunch served by Executive Chef Guillaume Bregeat. As I took in the serene scenes of the lagoon, I was entertained by a one-woman fashion show. A model pranced through the restaurant in fashionable swimsuits and cover-ups. As I sat there, she probably did ten wardrobe changes.
The Le Campêche menu was full of locally sourced ingredients and fresh seafood; all tempted me, but I decided on the grilled sea bass with vanilla and vegetables. It’s not often I eat sea bass and this reminded me of best meal I had on my first trip to Paris, so I kept with tradition. The fish was grilled just right, flaky and succulent with the vanilla on the side, which I used to occasionally heighten the flavor palette. I didn’t walk away until I experienced the Caribbean fresh fruit salad and guava sorbet for dessert. I’m a pushover for dessert and this flavorful combination did not disappoint.
With colors borrowed from madras patchwork fabric, the reds, blues and greys are seen throughout the resort. On a site visit of the deluxe suite, I was impressed by the spacious quarters; the shallow “punch bowl” pool overlooking the lagoon; the private outdoor shower and even the luxury bath amenities designed by Molton Brown. Mood lighting and a bed covered in flower petals is always a nice touch. Perhaps one of my favorite parts of the deluxe suite was the accent chairs that faced the window allow guests to sit comfortably and take in the tranquil view, chat about the day’s events or just mediate in the essence of Cap Est and all her glory.
The property offered an array of activities. Head towards the pier through the well-manicured archway for snorkeling, kayaking, wind surfing or a ride on the White Shark, the resort’s private catamaran. Guests are invited to explore the lagoon and islets of François and Robert, the Fonds Blancs, Loup-Garou and Chancel,where the diversity of the flora is equaled only by its beauty. I would have loved to be held hostage at Cap Est, but some people may actually enjoy seeing a bit more of Martinique and opt for the resort to book a separate excursion. Available to guests are helicopter rides around the island, 4×4 tours, deep-sea diving and sport fishing. Feeling idle, you’ll find the cascading pool as inviting as I did. A trip to the spa will relieve more than winter blues, stress and work burnout.
Le Spa has a facial parlor, a body care room, two massage rooms and two hydrotherapy rooms. Let’s face, it you must have a spa treatment and hydrotherapy is definitely the way to go. In keeping with the Asian theme throughout the resort, Le Spa is also equipped with a relaxation center with a Japanese pool to increase physical and mental health and overall well-being.
Now that Martinique is rightfully added to your next vacation list, I want to leave you with a quick travel tip. Although situated in the Caribbean, Martinique is still very French. Brushing up on your conversational French will go a long way on this beautiful and romantic island.