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St Lucia's warm welcome to paradise

"It's a place where you feel a million miles away from reality and routine is instantly forgotten," writes Chloe Brennan

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St Lucia's two famous volcanic mountainous peaks - Gros Piton and Petite Piton

St Lucia's two famous volcanic mountainous peaks - Gros Piton and Petite Piton

Chloe enjoying the tropical surrounds of beautiful Saint Lucia.

Chloe enjoying the tropical surrounds of beautiful Saint Lucia.

The 8m-high Toraille Waterfall

The 8m-high Toraille Waterfall

Enjoy rum and chocolate

Enjoy rum and chocolate

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St Lucia's two famous volcanic mountainous peaks - Gros Piton and Petite Piton

I couldn't help but feel smug as I announced to my family and friends that I was about to embark on a trip to the Caribbean.

It's a more exotic holiday destination than anywhere along the Mediterranean Sea or the Greek islands, it's a place where you feel a million miles away from reality and routine is instantly forgotten.

Getting there was a matter of two flights: to London, then to Grenada where we stayed on board while half of the passengers departed the plane. The it was a further approximately one-hour trip to St Lucia, which welcomes over 1.2 million tourists each year.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by Mia - a representative from Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa - who served us fresh coconuts as our luggage was loaded into the car. I knew there'd be no difficulty adjusting quickly to St Lucian life even before stepping foot in the water. A mere five-minute drive and we had arrived in paradise.

The resort boasts a unique landscape - a mixture of white sandy beaches and turquoise water to the east while a tropical rainforest full of coconut palm trees surrounds the back of the resort.

As I was checking-in, I found out that I was staying in Serenity at Coconut Bay - the luxurious, adults- only part of the resort.

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Just one of the pools and swim up bars the utterly sumptuous Coconut Bay Resort & Spa on the Caribbean island

Just one of the pools and swim up bars the utterly sumptuous Coconut Bay Resort & Spa on the Caribbean island

Just one of the pools and swim up bars the utterly sumptuous Coconut Bay Resort & Spa on the Caribbean island

"How much more luxurious can it get?" I thought to myself, as I looked around in awe at the perfectly aligned rainforest plants that towered over me, before my very own private butler whisked me away in a golf car to my 'plunge pool suite'.

The suite is more like a mini villa, complete with a plunge pool, an outdoor bar and a hammock that's suspended from the trees that surround the suite. Inside the suite, the bathroom is stocked with Molton Brown products, the bath is decorated with fresh rose petals, my towels are shaped like swans on my bed and the dark mahogany four-post bed leaves you feeling like royalty. As the butler showed me around the suite, I had to try to contain my excitement and giddiness at the thought that this was my 'home from home' for the next few days.

Our dinner was reserved for 7pm, meaning I could either relax for 30 minutes and stroll to dinner or do a test of all the amenities in the suite at lightening speed. I chose the latter. Straight into the plunge pool I went, then for a five-minute swing on the hammock, followed by a chilled glass of Champagne from my outdoor bar, then back to the plunge pool before 'hammocking' some more. I got lost in my adult playground and I was now officially late for dinner booked in The Greathouse at Serenity.

The whole resort is all-inclusive. The word 'all-inclusive' makes me shudder, as I know what to usually expect - a limited choice of food served with poorly-made sugary cocktails - but this is not the case at Coconut Bay, where you have a choice of nine restaurants to choose from and they serve you top-shelf liquor.

The atmosphere of the resort is relaxed and laid back. From the moment each guest enters the resort, full holiday mode is activated. Men are walking around in crisp, white, tan-enhancing shirts while women are flowing through the resort in their best summer maxi dresses. Even the way the guests walk speaks volumes - shoulders fallen back with their hands in their pockets as they leisurely stroll to and from dinner. Nobody is in a hurry to get anywhere. On my first morning waking up in this fairy-tale, I was treated to breakfast in bed - eggs Benedict, fresh fruit and coffee - that came with a greetings note from the chef.

I may have only been in St Lucia for 12 hours at this stage, and 6,000km across the Atlantic Ocean, but the staff were so accommodating that this little volcanic island already seemed home to me.

Our first activity of the day: board a catamaran. We set sail from Soufriere and headed south towards the 'most instagrammable' spot on the island which is a view of the island, from far out at sea, that captures the island's two famous volcanic mountainous peaks - Gros Piton and Petite Piton.

They are striking cone-shaped peaks that emerge above the surrounding terrain and stand over 750m tall. It's possible to climb them, and I can only try to imagine the magnificent panoramic view from the top, but I was satisfied viewing them as I soaked up the rays lying on the net at the front of our catamaran, sipping my Pina Colada.

We docked outside Marigot Bay and our captain provided us with giant flippers and snorkels. I crossed my arms over my shoulders, took a deep breath and graciously launched myself backwards off the boat and into the sea - or so I thought. As I resurfaced, with muffled hearing, foggy goggles and half of the Atlantic Ocean in my snorkel, I could hear my fellow sailors on-board laughing at my poor attempt of plunging into the great unknown in what I thought was a move that mirrored an Olympic diving champion.

It's a strange yet wonderful feeling when you first observe the whole other world that exists underwater. Watching iridescent multi-coloured fish swim among shimmering coral, I made my way, arms straight by my side trying to mimic the marine life gliding so speedily below.

Saint Lucia is still an active volcanic island and has the world's only drive-in volcano. Sulphur Springs is situated to the southwestern side of the island, near Soufriere (French for 'place from which sulphur is produced'). The water located at the centre of Sulphur Springs boils at 170°C, creating large plumes of steam.

We followed down the stream where the water is a little cooler and enjoyed sulphur mud baths. You become accustomed to the unfortunate egg-like smell that sulphur produces and after a 30-minute bath, you are guaranteed to have super-soft, silk-like skin.

Our second day was spent at the resort, testing all it has to offer. The private mile-long beach was lined with hammocks along the shoreline, volleyball nets and kayaks to rent. The beach bar kept me topped up with a newly-discovered love for rum cocktails. That afternoon I strolled up and down the beach, read my book in peace and made sure to stay cool with refreshing dips in the sea every 30 minutes.

As I lay in my hammock and watched the planes overhead departing from the nearby Hewanorra airport, I was dreading the thought of saying goodbye to this idyllic island.

Putting thoughts of my departure on hold it was time for another afternoon activity. Or maybe activity is the wrong word. The spa is tucked away in its own private retreat As a veteran spa guest I knew it was going to be a highlight for me. A full body massage was my treatment of choice and the masseuse struggled to wake me at the end of the hour - at this stage I had entered a fully transcendent state.

We celebrated the end of our trip with a special moonlit meal at La Luna restaurant. The restaurant sits on stilts suspended above the sea.

The waves lap against the shore below. Each table has its own enclosed dining area and is the most exquisite backdrop for a special newlywed's dinner.

Serenity at Coconut Bay is the perfect retreat for couples who enjoy five-star dining, the option of daytime adventures, both in the resort and out, and lounging in luxury. I'll spend the rest of my days dreaming of when I can return to this magical island.

Maybe next time with a significant other.

Take Two: Top attractions

Rum and chocolate

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Enjoy rum and chocolate

Enjoy rum and chocolate

Enjoy rum and chocolate

Indulge in Saint Lucia's finest chocolate and wash it down with spiced and coconut rum in Peter John's Lounge at Coconut Bay

Toraille Waterfall

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The 8m-high Toraille Waterfall

The 8m-high Toraille Waterfall

The 8m-high Toraille Waterfall

The secluded waterfall is situated down a passage blooming with greenery. Put your head under the 8m-high Toraille Waterfall and you will get a powerful natural head massage.

Getting there

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Chloe enjoying the tropical surrounds of beautiful Saint Lucia.

Chloe enjoying the tropical surrounds of beautiful Saint Lucia.

Chloe enjoying the tropical surrounds of beautiful Saint Lucia.

* Chloe stayed in Serenity at Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa, Saint Lucia's newest couples-only luxury all-suite resort which opened in autumn 2017. The hotel is the No.1 traveller-ranked St Lucia hotel on Trip Advisor and you can see much more at serenityatcoconutbay.com.

* British Airways flies daily from London Gatwick to Saint Lucia all year round.

* Thirty six suites with private plunge pool and 24-hour butler service.

* Five minutes from the airport.

* Hotel has won British Airways Customer Excellence Award.

* Saint Lucia has been voted as the leading No.1 honeymoon destination nine times.

* For bookings contact email: serenity@group-promotions.com or you can also call them on: +44 1582 792 260. serenityatcoconutbay.com

NB: This feature originally appeared in The Sunday Independent.

Sunday Indo Living