Welcome to Balenbouche Estate! (download pdf)
You have chosen a beautiful island and unique property as your holiday destination. We, the owners and caretakers of Balenbouche, have lived and worked here for over 30 years and are deeply committed to preserving the heritage, beauty and tranquility of the estate. We are happy and fortunate to be able to share our home and st lucia bed and breakfast with a small but diverse number of visitors from around the world, who help inspire us to continue our work. Read more about our family and the history of Balenbouche Estate.
In order to answer some of your questions and make you feel at ease, we have put together the following Guide to our st lucia bed and breakfast. We hope that your stay with us will be enjoyable, inspirational and memorable. If you have any questions, comments or requests, we will be more than happy to assist you!
Uta, Anitanja and Verena Lawaetz
Accommodations & Amenities
Each of our one and two bedroom st lucia cottages has a unique design and atmosphere, and comes equipped with refrigerator, hot water kettle, fans, mosquito nets, bed sheets, towels, hot showers, and a place to lock valuables. The Almond and Banyan Cottage can sleep up to 4 and 6 people, and have 2-3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and a kitchen. The one bedroom Frangipani and Calabash Cottages can sleep 1 or two people. We can provide a hair dryer and iron by request. Please bring your own shampoo and other toiletries, as well as insect repellent and a small flashlight or headlamp.
There are a total of 7 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms between the 5 cottages. Depending on the number of singles and doubles, the maximum that our st lucia bed and breakfast can sleep is between 8 and 16 people. Read more on our st lucia cottages page.
Airports, Buses, Taxis & Car rentals
The Hewanorra International Airport (St lucia airport code UVF) is a 20 minutes drive from our st lucia bed and breakfast. George FL Charles (castries – st lucia airport code SLU) is a 1 ½ hour drive. Taxis at both airports are readily available and the rates are fixed; (for example US$ 30 from Hewanorra, and US$ 100 from George FL Charles for up to 4 people to Balenbouche).
If you can afford it, and are comfortable driving on the left with somewhat reckless drivers and more challenging roads, your best option is to rent a car. For most people, driving is actually easier than they expect! Rental cars are cheaper than taxis and a lot more convenient than the local buses which only access some parts of the island. You can also just rent a car for a few days, and have the rental car agency pick you up and drop you off. Driving is on the left, and you will need to obtain a local driving permit at the airport or rental agency, which is valid for 3 months and costs US$ 22 (unless you have an international drivers license). The daily rate for a small car is US$ 65 – 75 and US$ 75 – 90 for a 4-wheel drive, including tax and a collision damage waiver. We work with St. Lucia National Car Rental, which offers our guests a 10% discount. Read more on getting around the island in our St Lucia Guide.
Meals & Restaurants at our st lucia bed and breakfast
The two bedroom Almond and Banyan Cottage, as well as the one bedroom Waterlily are set up for self-catering. The closest supermarket (Super J) is a 15 minutes drive away.
Although we are primarily a st lucia bed and breakfast, we do also offer meals by reservation. Our meals are fresh, local and home made and we can cater to all diets; vegan, vegetarian, gluten free etc. Breakfast (US$ 12) is available every day from 7:30 am, a dinner special or buffet for US$ 25 is offered typically once or twice a week, or more frequently depending on the season. The L’Escape restaurant & Bar is within walking distance and open every day except Sundays and Mondays. Other small bars and local st lucia restaurants in Laborie and Vieux Fort are within a 5-10 minutes drive. Read more on our st lucia restaurants page.
Shopping and Banking
The town of Vieux Fort (30 minutes) and the Gablewoods Mall (20 minutes) both south of our st lucia bed and breakfast, is the best place for shopping and errands, and the closest bank and ATM location. The main supermarket chain is “Super J”; there are two locations in Vieux Fort, one just before the town coming from Balenbouche, inside the small “Gablewoods South” mall and, one at the JQ Plaza in Vieux Fort. The villages have small stores which carry a few nonperishable basics and on Saturdays there is generally a small produce markets and stands in every community, from around 6 am until about 11 am. In Vieux Fort, street vendors sell fresh produce on weekdays as well. The Castries market is the largest and open every day except Sunday, but is busiest on Saturdays.
Balenbouche Estate is a great place for weddings and other events. You can rent the venue at reasonable cost, and we sometimes help plan smaller events. For larger events, we can recommend professional services. In consideration of our other guests staying at the Balenbouche st lucia bed and breakfast, all festivities must end by 10 pm.
Several times a year, we organize and host group retreats and workshops which on a variety of topics such as art, photography, sustainability, yoga and nutrition. We can arrange professional photography sessions, private yoga classes, meditation, massages and other body treatments. Read more on our yoga and wellness services.
There are two beaches adjoining our property within a 5 minute walk. One is easily accessible and has shallow water, rough seas and rocky bottom, but you can wade and take a dip. The other beach is just as close, very private, and swimming is possible close to shore, but beware of currents further out. Laborie Bay and Anse de Sable in Vieux Fort, two of the islands nicest beaches, are a 5 and 20 minute drive away.
Balenbouche Property and Trails
Our estate, adjoining several beaches and a river, covers 80 acres/30 hectares of dry and subtropical forest, bush and pastureland, past and present areas of cultivation, and landscaped gardens and trails. Several different trails lead to our two beaches and to the 18th century sugar mill. Another trail takes you along the old aqueduct which powered the sugar mill. If you are feeling adventurous, you can also walk up the Balenbouche river and see one of the Amerindian petroglyphs (a face and bowl carved into a large stone about waist high, on your left about 15 minutes up the river. Not all trails are maintained on a regular basis, and some may require a guide, so please check with us beforehand. We typically give everyone staying at our st lucia bed and breakfast a tour and orientation of the property on the first or second day.
Things to see and do in St Lucia
There are a wide range of activities available on the island which we can recommend and arrange. Near our st lucia bed and breakfast, some of the points of attraction include the charming fishing villages of Laborie and Choiseul, the Morne le Blanc viewing point, The Choiseul Arts and Craft Center, the Laborie Beach, the River Doree, and the Saltibus Trail and Waterfall. and For more information on things to see and do, visit our St Lucia Blog.
Balenbouche Estate is home to various wild and domesticated animals, including cows, horses, cats, dogs, tortoises, lizards, frogs, crickets, spiders, bats, rats, mice, mosquitoes, and many birds and insects. Since the traditional buildings are open and we do not want to use toxic chemicals on a regular basis, we have accepted most critters as part of the environment and expect our guests to do the same. If you are squeamish about the natural environment, then Balenbouche is not for you. Luckily, apart from mosquitoes, sand flies and the rare centipede, there is nothing which is likely to harm you. There is a poisonous snake on the island (fer-de Lance) which is however found only in specific, remote areas. Our pets (dogs and cats) are working animals but very affectionate and protective. We ask you to kindly not allow the dogs into the bedrooms or feed them at the table or in the kitchen. Since they spend most of their time outdoors, our dogs tend to pick up ticks and fleas, which however rarely crawl onto humans. We do treat them on a regular basis, but it is difficult to eliminate parasites completely. The dogs usually “adopt” our guests quickly and are eager to offer premium guide and guard services. If any of our pets becomes a nuisance, or if you have any concerns about the local wildlife, please let us know!
Mosquitos are always present to some extent, since mosquitoes travel for many miles and are common throughout the tropics, especially during the rainy season from June to November. We have several ways of controlling mosquitoes, including mosquito eating fish and BT (Bacillus Thuringiensis, an organic pest control using naturally occurring bacteria which destroys the larvae). There are some mosquito borne viruses such as Dengue Fever, Chikungunya and Zika which can cause periodic outbreaks, but rarely cause serious complications. Mosquitoes are not attracted by light, but by body heat and the carbon we exhale. Mosquito nets are pretty essential for a good nights’ sleep unless you have lived on the island for many years. We also suggest applying insect repellent, wearing light, long-sleeved clothing and socks in the evening, burning mosquito repelling incense coils, and using fans. If you would like us to spray the rooms with insecticide, please let us know and we can do so while you are out for at least an hour. Some insect bites are also caused by sand flies which are found more commonly on or near the beach and in large grassy and sandy areas.
As a general rule, lock your valuables in the rooms/closets provided or leave them with us for safekeeping. Each cottage has one lockable room or closet with a safe. It is strongly advised that you lock away your valuables and your room every time you leave your cottage. Our dogs do a good job of alerting us that someone is on the property, but please report any suspicious activity on or near our st lucia bed and breakfast.
Generally, you will find that most St. Lucian’s are open, hospitable and friendly. However, with the growth of tourism, along with poverty, high unemployment, income inequality, lack of education and other social problems, you may experience some hostility and harassment. In recent years, crime has also increased. Please do not invite anyone onto the property before checking with us. As a woman, especially when traveling alone, you will get some unwanted attention, which is mostly harmless, but always exercise caution. All travelers should take the normal precautions. Specifically, do not venture into remote areas alone (go in a group, or better yet, in a group with a local guide or taxi driver). If you go out at night, especially in the more populated northern past of the island, take extra precautions.