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Firstly, I visit Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort in St Lucia regularly. The opinions expressed here are designed to give people information on the resort and are personal and I accept no liablity for comments made on this review. I do not, in any way, represent the resort - although I do visit it at least once a year..
If you are a "hotel" person who likes carpeted rooms, long corridors with offset bedrooms, semicircular concrete blocks facing the sea etc then this is NOT for you. The General Manager is now Neil Brown and the resort was formally managed by Tony Bowen who managed Windjammer some time ago and previously managed St James Club in Antigua. Tony is still involved in the resort. Windjammer Landing in design concept is unique on the island. What follows is an honest and personal opinion on the resort and its facilities:
Windjammer Landing is unusual in that it is built on 50 acres of hillside which is very well landscaped with the Mediterranean style villas connected by little redbricked paths. Many of the original trees have been kept but some lopped to give better seaviews from the villas! Most of the villas are semi-detached and some of the large 3 bed ones are detached. They are well insulated against sound from neighbouring rooms. Transport to and from the villas is available via buggies driven by members of the Windjammer staff. To travel down from your villa just dial "O" and request one!
The resort is very pretty. Many of the villas have good seaviews and the Standard and Deluxe rooms usually have partial views through the trees and vegetation which grow profusely throughout the resort. This adds to the tropical atmosphere and ensures wildlife visitors such as Carib Grackles, St Lucian finches and humming birds.
Maid service is provided everyday and fresh towels, shampoo and linen etc. There is a hotel standard of service but with the freedom of having your own space. Generally the standard of cleaning is very good.
The on-site shop is small but reasonably well stocked for basics including milk, butter, sugar, tea, coffee, bread, suncream, fruit juice, wine, rum etc. Windjammer has its own bakery on site. They have frozen meat but not fish and limited vegetables. They do run out of stuff occasionally! For better and cheaper shopping go to Super J's supermaket in Gablewoods Mall or Rodney Bay. However, this does involve a taxi ride or going in your own transport.
There are other shops in the resort selling beachwear, suncream, shoes etc. Bring your passport and air ticket details when you shop to get duty free rates.
Standard Rooms are ok if you are on a budget - some have surprisingly good seaviews and generous terraces. They feel bigger than the average hotel room. The Deluxe rooms are positioned above them and have sun terraces located above the bedroom. The views are generally better than those in the Standard Rooms. Recently Windjammer have been updating these and some of the vegetation has been cut back to give better views of the sea. Some still need updating however.
Deluxe rooms are well worth considering. They are situated above the standard rooms in the same villa blocks. They consist of a largish bedroom, en-suite bathroom, outside balcony and a stairway to a private sun terrace. They are linked to the Standard Rooms below by a staircase with a locked door at the bottom dividing the two apartments. The staircase is useful for storing suitcases! Mosquito nets are either provided or can be requested. For two people there is quite a reasonable amount of room. Fridge and safe provided but no kitchen. These rooms are mainly situated near the "quiet" swimming pool half way up the resort. The Standard and Deluxe rooms are all located near Papa Don's Swimming pool halfway up the resort and are within 5 minutes walking distance (downhill) to the beach. Some overlook the main road into the resort and can be a bit noisy early in the morning at around 7am when the staff arrive to work! If the french windows of the bedroom is shut then there is very little noise.Some of these rooms were a bit shabby but most are now part of an improvement programme which has been taking place over the past two years.
We stayed in Deluxe rooms in 1998 and 1999 but upgraded to "villa living" in 2000 when we purchased a timeshare after 3 years of visiting through travel agents!
One bed villas are better equipped and have a plunge pool in most cases. Plunge pools are small but great fun! They are not heated so can be on the cold side in January. The kitchens are well equipped with large American-style fridges with icemakers, microwaves, coffee makers and cookers. Most of these villas are old fashioned style with open living rooms so the birds do fly in. If this bothers you ask for one with sealed windows.
Two/Three bed villas are spacious and all have plunge pools. These are of the old-fashioned mediterranean design and some of the living rooms are open plan. If you do not like this request a closed villa at time of booking. The updated most luxurious ("Estate" villas) have full sized swimming pools and a personally assigned chef! They are modern in design with sealed windows and are very spacious. They usually get rave reviews from anyone lucky enough to stay in them.
All category of rooms have maid service, daily towel change, shampoo etc. However, if you are exchanging through the RCI system check that this service is included. Some deals have an extra charge for daily housekeeping. I think that if you swap on "weeks" the service is included but not on Points. If you exchange directly with another owner than there should be no charge for housekeeping. Look at "TUG" Timeshare Users Group or RedWeek.com on the internet for more information on direct rentals from owners.
Timeshare Villas - updated June 2007
The newer ones really are stunning. Windjammer has an active building programme and is building more 2-3 bedroom villas and has just completed another fourplex at the top of the resort which is fabulous and overlooks the entire resort. Another fourplex will be built next to it. Apparently there is a waiting list now for timeshares in 3-bed villas so the building work is ongoing.
You can go on the timeshare presentation - duration 1-1.5 hours during which they explain how it all works and take you on a tour of the newly-built villas. I think they offer a discounted all-day cataraman trip as an incentive to take the tour. We didn't for the first two years of going there but did on the third year when we finally decided to buy in to the resort. Some of the sales staff can be a bit pushy apparently but the one we had was ok.
If you are interested in timeshare do look at the "Timeshare Users Group" website (TUG) as this has loads of information for people thinking of buying for the first time. We purchased off the developer as we wanted a specific time of the year for our purchase but it is worth checking out resales as you might be able to save some money!
Maintenance of Villas - updated June 2007
Maintenance of existing villas is sometimes not as good as it should be and we have had problems in the past. The Caribbean weather and climate causes relatively new villas to develop some problems within 5-6 years and maintenance needs to take place on an ongoing basis rather than be fixed when someone kicks up enough fuss! Common problems include cracked tiles or blocked gutters (the foliage grows very fast) causing leaking ceilings occassionally.
Having said that, we are still very happy with our choice to date. This year our villa in June was freshly painted, the leak in the kitchen was fixed and there was new air conditioning in the bedroom so we are pleased about this. Our January villa had the balcony replaced completely two years ago and the Jacuzzi fixed. I think the villas are maintained on a rotation basis so it was probably our villa's turn this year!
The Beach - updated January 2007
Work on the extended beach has now been completed and is a great improvement on the original. However, the sea near the extended beach contains sea urchins and therefore it is recommended that you only swim in the roped off swimming area. There are warning signs where the Sea Urchins are located.
A new beach bar has been added towards one end of the beach. Embers Bar has been extended with marquees providing shade. Very convenient for dining at lunchtime BUT shaded areas of the beach are now at a premium. Windjammer needs to sort this out. Certainly by 10am the shaded areas were all taken up. I for one do not want to have to rush down to my villa in the morning to "reserve my slot". There have been a lot of complaints about this on Trip Advisor recently so hopefully Windjammer management will take notice and sort this out.
Residents of Trouya Village will also be allowed to use Windjammer beach as part of their deal so this problem could get worse. Also Windjammer has a major expansion programme with new condos being built along the beach to East Winds. Again, the beach is not quite big enough to cope with all this!
There is a fresh water shower with showergel and shampoo located by the beach and the main swimming pool is located beside the beach near Jammers Bar. Towel tags are given out by the resort on registration for which a deposit is made. You exchange the tags for towels and then get your money taken off the bill at the end of the holiday once the tags are returned.
One criticism. Because of volleyball matches, bingo calling and horseshoe throwing etc the beach is not as quiet and restful as it could be. Further up the beach is quieter but there is less access to the sea is difficult because of the rocks and coral there. The official swimming area is located off the main part of the beach and is very safe for children and adults..
A water trampoline has proved very popular!
Watersports updated January 2006
Sailing, windsurfing, pedaloes and canoes, banana boat rides all included in the cost of the resort. From June they have also put in a water trampoline! The equipment has been upgraded and now includes Hobie cats! For Waterskiing there is an extra charge. The staff, managed by Gordon Micoud, are very friendly and helpful. There is tuition in all watersports if required - initially free as part of the daily programme and then for a small charge for individual lessons and a regular programme of activities. The watersports staff are keen to encourage you to learn and have been very patient with my windsurfing attempts. They are also very good with children. They have twice-daily snorkelling trips round the corner of the bay which last one hour – involving a ride in their fast speedboat! The morning trip is free and goes to a bay very near to the resort The coral is mostly dead but there is still quite a lot of sealife including cuttlefish and flying gournards. The afternoon trip is $5US but goes to Rodney Bay where the sea is clearer and there is more sealife.
The water in the North of the island is NOT very clear - in fact I found the snorkelling at the resort disappointing. The best snorkelling is down the south of the island and worth a day trip to either Anse Cochon or Anse Chastanet. Windjammer is now running an excursions programme which includes snorkelling trips to Anse Chastanet, visits to the volcano etc.
Eastern Caribbean Diving run the dive operation at Windjammer. Leen at the front desk is very charming and helpful and the dive team, run by Donovan Brown and Eget Martyr are very friendly.
In January 2006 I went out on a dive to the Anse Cochon wreck. This was excellent and the visibility was very clear. Thanks to Donovan, Judy, Eget, Haze and my "buddy Greg" for the help they gave me and the confidence they instilled in me beforehand.
June 2006. After years of faffing about as a resort diver I finally took my Open Water qualification with East Caribbean Diving. The final dive was at the Anse Cochon wreck in wonderful conditions.
January 2007. My first dives as a qualified diver. Superman's flight (a very pretty drift dive) and the Piton Wall. Finally, after all these years, I saw my first turtle!
June 2007. Did Superman's flight again (much better this time), Piton Wall, Lesleen Wreck and Anse Cochon nursery. All good dives. Planning my Advanced Open Water in Winter 2008.
Scuba St Lucia operate out of Anse Chastenet and have a ferry operating from Castries. If you book with them lunch at the beachside restaurant at Anse Chastenet is included in the price. This is a much bigger operation and it can be quite crowded on their fast boat which runs from Castries to Anse Chastenet. Professional and friendly.
Frog's Diving, formerly at Windjammer have now moved locations. They are now in the Rodney Bay area near to the Harmony Marina Suites. "Tommy" is still head of the dive operation and has recently bought a new boat. Small and friendly operation.
This has been discontinued and I think they are planning on updating the Ambassodor system. At present the Front Desk fields calls and lists problems for action.
Getting Around the Resort
Transport around the resort is via colourful minibuses which are driven by the Windjammer staff. They are available 24 hours a day. They will take up to 10 people. At 4:30 -5:30 in the afternoon they get busy as everyone tends to leave the beach around that time! To go down from your villa just dial the reception and they call one for you. This shuttle service is usually fairly efficient and the drivers are helpful. When my father-in-law came with us they helped him get in and out of the shuttles and into the villa. You can usually count on getting a shuttle within 15 minutes or sooner of your call.
The shuttle drivers were unfailingly helpful and friendly despite circumstances beyond their control when things got a bit busy. They do need two more drivers during busy times though. Sometime one has to wait around 20 minutes to get up to the villas.
Restaurants on site - updated June 2007
DragonFly Restarant doubles as a breakfast restaurant with buffet and a la carte breakfasts and as a gourmet dining facility in the evening.
The evening menu at Dragonfly is ok with an interesting choice of food a la carte including a fairly recent addition, Sushi. The vegetable selection is well thought out. Evening entertainment is provided on some nights with All entertainment finishes at around 11pm as this is a family resort. However, the bar will stay open quite late. The Dragonfly is a bit pricey for evening meals but comparable in price to taking a taxi and eating off resort.
In June 2007 the service was excrutiatingly slow so we only ate there once. The food was good but, by the time they took our order we could have got a taxi into Rodney Bay!
Many people go for the breakfast plan which includes a huge buffet breakfast although all-inclusive and other dining options are available.
The beach bar food at Jammers is reasonable and comes with with a choice of chips or fruit for the healthy. The salads are very nice with a Thai influence and the atmosphere is relaxed. The location of Jammers has now been expanded giving more room at lunchtime if it rains! There is nightly entertainment with good-quality local bands. Jammers was a popular choice by resort guests and also has Caribbean buffet nights and a Friday night BBQ - both with full entertainment! The evening food options have been improved and now offer choices such as Prawns in Pernot sauce with wild rice. Burgers are still on the menu as well so a lot of choice!
Papa Dons Italian Restaurant. This restaurant has improved greatly over the last few years and is now very busy so do book ahead! It is probably the most popular restauran ton the resort. The pizzas are now excellent and I can really recommend the salmon dish with squid ink risotto!. They have a proper pizza oven and also do good pasta dishes. This restaurant is popular with children as well as adults. The restaurant site is located high in the resort near a swimming pool and the spa. On clear days there is a good view of Martinique. Excellent for children and they do a take out service and will deliver to your room or villa (at an extra charge). The Manager, Rita is very friendly and will do her best to accommodate you. They have expanded their covered area to keep out the occasional rain shower! On my recent visit this was the only restaurant that required booking in advance as it was very popular with families between 6-9pm.
Upper Deck Restaurant - updated January 2007
Located above Jammers and open in the evening. Concentrates on fish menus. Benton, formerly of Papa Dons is in charge of this restaurant. The seafood is good and includes fresh fish, shrimp, prawns, squid and octopus. The menu changes regularly to match the seasons.
For those of you to whom FOOD on holiday is important and who may want to go off the resort to eat check out my restaurant reviews.I have only mentioned 4 that I particularly like. There are others!
Taxis and Nightlife updated
The resort is on the north of the island but isolated. The main road is approximately one mile from the resort gates. Taxis are a good idea for getting off the resort. The Taxi drivers are friendly and very knowledgeable about the island. Most will offer to negotiate on the price of a day trip around the island. I would recommend teaming up with some like-minded people and going to Rodney Bay which has a brilliant selection of restaurants ranging from Chinese, Indian, thai, Italian and Caribbean. There is a good pizza restaurant (Capones) for the kids with a more sophisticated Italian restaurant attached. Rodney Bay also has two pubs/restaurants which serve local food , cheap beer and have good evening entertainment. "the Triangle" and "the Lime". Diamond Steel, Emerald Steel and Allegro Pan Groove (an all-girl steel band) are worth hearing The rumour regarding Allegro Pan Groove is that they have been personally trained by Diamond Steel members! The Triangle Pub also has Kareoke nights with standards varying from the sublime to absolutely awful! Tourists are encouraged to join in. All sorts of people visit the Triangle so the atmosphere is always good. This can also attract some of the low-life, particularly in the high season when there are lots of tourists. They will bum drinks off you so be aware. Recently the Triangle and the Lime have been running entertainment towards the latter half of the week only. Therefore Monday-Wednesday is fairly quiet and things liven up Thursday-Saturday.
Eagles Inn, Happy Day Bar - updated 2007
Yachties, locals and tourists alike visit the Happt Day Bar where drinks are half price all day. This is located next to Eagles Inn. You will see many local cars heading down the Rodney Bay strip towards this place on Fridays and Saturdays. The restaurant specialises in fish and lobster when in season. From Mondays-Thursdays the upstairs location is really pretty and quiet and overlooks the waterfront towards Gros Islet. See restaurant review for further info on this. Slow service sometimes but great food.
Street Party/Jump Up at Gros Islet
Held on Friday nights. Great fun, cheap food and beer and VERY VERY LOUD! Mix of locals, tourists and lowlife. Take care, do not wear jewellery, stick to the main streets and you should have a good time. It is a good idea to arrange a time and place for your taxi driver to pick you up. Things get going with dancing etc after about 10:30pm. Local rastas will grab the girls for a dance and the place rocks. After midnight things get very lively (and can get a bit rough). Be aware that the street has huge drainage ditches which are easy to trip over, fall into - especially after a lively dance and one too many Pitons!!!
Anse le Raye Fish Fry and Dennery Fish Fry
Both of these are good events with lots of good and cheap local fish available. Less hassled than the Gros Islet party. Good atmosphere. If staying at Ti Kaye, they run a bus there on Friday nights and will pick you up and take you back to the resort. Again things liven up after around 10:30pm. Most tourists leave by then, however, for those that stay, the music gets loud and the party really starts.
Piton Beer and Denrose Rum
Piton Beer is locally made and very good. Sold everywhere. Denrose White Rum is very strong! Bounty Rum is the local brown rum and it is possible to tour the rum factory to see how it is made. There is also a very nice tasting room where you can try all the brands and types of locally-made rum. Chairman's Reserve Rum, which my husband discovered this year after 14 visits (!) is older and smoother and is a good after-dinner drink in place of brandy. Admiral Rodney's rum is probably the nicest and smoothest.
There is a rum outlet at Point Seraphine where you can buy duty free and sample a large number of rums.
Update June 2007.
We left our rum buying until going to the Airport on leaving. There was no local Lucian rum in the Duty Free, apparently it is in short supply due to a fire at the rum factory. So, do buy on the island not in the Duty Free!
Chartered Boat Hire - highly recommended.
There are various captains operating at the resort but not managed by the resort. Rates vary and are subject to negotiation. The boats all have shade if required (essential for me!) They will all offer half-day to full-day trips. Best value if you have a group of 6-8 going on the boat. Not too crowded then and splitting the cost is easy. Sample trip would include snorkelling at Anse Cochon, visit to Anse Chastanet, visit to the Bat Cave (yes there are bats!), lunch at Ladeira or Jalousie or visit to Soufriere. The freedom to set ones own agenda beats the standard tourist visits and does not work out at too much more. Often snorkelling equipment is provided along with rum and pitons and water included in the cost. I have deliberately not included boat hire charges here as they are always subject to negotiation! Do be clear about your requirements and charges - whether in USD or ECD and get quotes in advance.
We went out with "Captain Tom" in January 2006 and he was excellent and a safe driver. He was courteous and had a lot of knowledge on local snorkelling sites.
Teen Programme at Windjammer
This was introduced by Marc Joinville, formerly General Manager. The programme includes specialised watersports, nature trips, a games room specifically for Teens including pool and various activities.
There is a very good Children's club where children are taught painting, snorkelling, taken on trips etc. This club is also open in the evenings. They also have a Nanny service. There is an extra small charge for trips out of the resort to the rainforest, pigeon island etc, meals taken at the club . There are lessons in Patois, Creole culture, nature etc.
Creole Lesson, Crab racing, Pool Volleyball, Bingo :-( Horseshoe throwing, AquaAerobics, Fitness Class on Beach, Nature Walk around Windjammer, Hike to La Trouya Beach and last but not least, Mixology (learn how to make cocktails)
There are two internet stations but I would not recommend these as they are expensive and run on landlines rather than Broadband. There is now free internet access in the lobby but no powerpoints so make sure your laptop is charged up before venturing down to the Lobby. The owners are now asking for internet access in the villas. The resort is very spread out however so this might be some time coming!
Timeshare Villas etc and Daytrip on Cataraman.
Windjammer Landing has an active timeshare programme. The resort runs a day trip via cataraman to the sites of St Lucia and including drinks and lunch. You can get a big discount off the price of this trip if you go on the timeshare presentation. If you don't want to do the cataraman trip they will offer you other incentives. See Timeshare sales if you are interested in this. Unlike marketing timeshare in the UK and Canary Islands they DO NOT lock you up for 3 hours in a small room and brainwash you. The marketing is far cleverer! You are given a guided tour of the best villas the resort has to offer and then they sit you down and explain why you should go for it - usually over a drink. The standard of villas they show you is usually much higher than the ones available for rental. You are then left with the paperwork, details etc and can come back to them later in the week if you want to take it further. From 1998-2000 we came to Windjammer through the rental scheme and only puchased after coming for 3 years. So far our experience has been very good and were were upgraded to a 3-bedroom one year when we took some family out with us. The new fourplex villas are very impressive with private plunge pools, even on the upper decks and 2 bathrooms. Lovely views.
Checkout can take time if many people are checking out in order to make the same flights etc. To avoid this allow plenty of time for the checkout procedure, do check your bill the night before and sort out any possible problems then and order your taxi to the airport the day before your departure day! Checkout in January 2006 was no problem and the bill was accurate. In 2005 checkout took ages as a large wedding party was all checking out at the same time so it can vary. Checkout in January 2007 was painless and was also no problem in June 2007!
Finally, All-inclusive packages.
This works out at good value if you are intending to drink a lot and eat a lot - I costed this against what we normally eat and drink (and we don't stint ourselves) and found that it worked out at about the same as eating out on the island including taxi costs. All-inclusive as an easy option to go for, particularly as the Windjammer food is generally good. However sometimes we prefer to eat out at a quiet restaurant and "go with the flow" rather than have to reserve the popular times and restaurants on site in advance. However, everyone is different. The all-inclusive package does include motorised watersports including waterskiing so might be a good option. Windjammer also offers a 3-day package on AI as well as a week package which is a nice compromise as you can try it for 3 days and then make the decision as to go for it or not.
If you have found this site useful please email me and let me know!
Best wishes and happy travelling!
Barbara Steel updated June 2007
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