Health and Safety
Mosquitoes are always present to an extent, but they are not as bad here as in the summer months in the northern hemisphere. We have several ways of controlling mosquitoes, including mosquito eating fish and BT (Bacillus Thuringiensis, a naturally occurring bacteria which destroys the larvae). After you’ve lived on the island for a while, your body adjusts and mosquitoes don’t bother you much.
For our Balenbouche estate guests, the best defenses are: Sleeping under the mosquito nets, wearing repellent and light, long-sleeved clothing, burning citronella or incense, and using the standing fans. Some insect bites are caused by sand flies found on or near the beach and in large grassy or sandy areas. Mosquito borne viruses such as Dengue Fever, Chikungunya and Zika break out periodically, but the risk to visitors is very low and they rarely cause serious complications.
Yes, most definitely, since we are surrounded by nature and the buildings are open plan and not screened. However, there is nothing poisonous or really harmful! The insects you will typically encounter are mosquitoes, moths, spiders, beetles and roaches. We strongly advise that you put all food in the fridge or plastic containers, and the organic waste in the small buckets with lids. We do put out roach bait, but try to minimize the use of toxic chemicals. We live more or less in harmony with the ecosystem and encourage our visitors to try the same. So, if you are squeamish about bugs, Balenbouche Estate is not for you!
The most common wildlife are birds, lizards (anoles), geckos, the small coqui frogs and the large cane toads. These all help control the insect population. Apart from that, you might catch a glimpse of a possum, mongoose, tree rat or mouse. Rodents are kept in check by our cats, and occasional traps. Finally, we have 3 tortoises, a few cows, two horses, and 6 friendly dogs. The dogs serve as security, tour guides and companions. As much as we seek to co-exist with all life in and around our property, please do let us know if any of the large or small critters become a nuisance.
The crime rate on the island is fairly high, so we like to be cautious. As a general rule, lock your valuables in the rooms/closets provided or leave them with us for safekeeping. We also lock our bedrooms at night, and suggest you do the same. Our dogs do a good job of alerting us whenever someone enters the property, and our family and staff who live on property is always on alert. All st lucia beaches are public, so we cannot control access. Please do not take any valuables to the beach, and report any suspicious activity on or near the property.
The tap water is drinkable and comes from a nearby spring, after which it is treated and piped in by public works. Up until 1998, we used only rain and river water, and still have this as a back up and for watering plants etc. We filter the tap water with a simple Brita filter which takes out some of the chlorine and improves the taste. We discourage the use of single use plastic bottles. As you know, the quality of bottled water is often not even as good as tap water.
All our cottages are equipped with a fire extinguisher, and we have an extensive first aid kit at the main house. Your room keys have a small whistle or alarm which you can activate in an emergency. On occasion, we experience heavy storms or flooding. For this there will be adequate warning and we will take all necessary precautions. Earthquakes are rare but small tremors do occur.
Our liability policy currently only covers certain organized tours. We are not responsible for any injuries or lost and stolen items. Please take the necessary precautions such as reading the information and signage provided, keeping your valuable items in a safe place, and making responsible choices in keeping with your health and level of fitness. We encourage getting an individual travel insurance and/or checking with your credit card company what it covers.
The nearest ambulance is stationed 15 minutes away, the closest health center 10 minutes and the nearest hospital (St Judes) 20 minutes. Medical services on the island however are basic and serious injuries or special procedures are often done in Martinique. The private hospital up north (Tapion) probably offers the best care, but there is also a brand new hospital OKEU. The old Victoria Hospital has now become the designated respiratory clinic for Covid patients.
Activities and Events
Our certified yoga instructor is available several days a week, and can come by prior appointment to lead a class with a minimum of 4 people. For smaller groups, we sometimes offer an informal class led by a family member, and of course you are always free to use the yoga space for your personal practice. More about yoga and wellness…
Yoga classes and massages should be booked at least 48 hours in advance to ensure availability of the yoga instructor and massage therapist who will travel to Balenbouche by appointment. Yoga classes are US$ 20-30 per person, and massages are between US$ 60 and $100.
Balenbouche Estate is the ideal venue for retreats. On average, we host 3-4 international groups per year, as well as several local weekend or week-long retreats. Group sizes vary between 6 and 14 people. Retreats are usually advertised many months in advance, with an “early bird” option. More about our retreats…
Typically, our retreats are closed events and we do not take other bookings for rooms or meals during that time. However, if a retreats does not fill completely, we may open up one or two cottages 2-3 months before the retreat. Many retreats are open to local residents, who can purchase a day-package including lunch or dinner. More about our retreats…
Occasionally, on average once or twice a month, we have a wedding or other event at Balenbouche. Typically, all events must end by 10 pm, in consideration of Balenbouche guests and residents. The only exception is if a group books ALL of the accommodations for a private event, in which case there is no cut-off time. More about Balenbouche weddings…
Yes, on most occasions, it is possible to camp at Balenbouche Estate for US$15 – $20 per person per night. We do not provide tents or official camping facilities, but we do offer restrooms, an outdoor hot shower, a place for keeping valuables, wifi, breakfast (US$ 15) and a very private and beautiful natural environment. Please contact us for further details. More about camping in St Lucia…
Property and Owners
Balenbouche produced sugar and rum from the late 1700’s to the 1930’s. After sugar, the main crops were cotton, citrus, coffee, cocoa and coconuts (copra). Since the early 1990’s, we only keep some livestock and grow a small amount of organic vegetables and fruits largely for our own consumption. More about the history of Balenbouche…
Uta is originally from Germany but has lived abroad since her mid 20s (Europe, India, Thailand, Japan, USVI). Her ex-husband, whose parents originally purchased Balenbouche in 1964 is from St Croix, with a Danish West Indian ancestry. Roy and Uta moved to St Lucia in the early 1980’s in an attempt to save and revitalize the family estate. Verena and Anitanja have lived in St. Croix, St Lucia, the US, Germany, UK and the Dominican Republic. More about the Lawaetz family…
Uta and some of the staff live on the estate permanently. Our work team consists of 4-5 full time staff and occasional contractors and volunteers. Verena is there most of the year but sometimes leaves for a few months in the summer. Anitanja lives on island and visits frequently but currently works elsewhere.
English and German fluently, Conversational French and a little Italian and Spanish.
“Balenbouche is indeed a world within itself exuding a tranquil presence of warmth, hospitality and harmony.”
+ 1 (758) 455-1244
P.O. Box VF 707, LC12101, St Lucia
Copyright 2019 Balenbouche Estate