Fond Doux Plantation & Resort
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Fond Doux Plantation & Resort is a romantic getaway featuring 15 private authentic and comfortable cottages in a working plantation
Fond Doux Plantation & Resort is a 19th century eco-friendly colonial resort in the heart of St. Lucia, best known for romantic getaways. The resort is part of a unique paradise, in a working plantation and a natural escape from everyday life to encourage guests to reconnect with nature and invigorate. The plantation was originally owned by King Louis XIV and subsequently handed to the Devaux brothers in recognition of their service to ‘Crown and Country.” The Fond Doux Estate was purchased by its current owners, the Lamontagne family in 1980, and operated as a banana plantation throughout the 1990s. By 1999 the family decided to develop into heritage tourism and in 2006 the Fond Doux Plantation & Resort was born.
Today the resort consists of 15 unique cottages with three different categories, a triple tier swimming pool, wedding gazebo, spa, gift shop and hiking trails. The one bedroom accommodations are perfectly suited for couples looking to enjoy some peace and quiet in a romantic and secluded setting, the deluxe one bedroom is larger and set up for self-catering options, one bedroom cottage with its own plunge pool, honeymoon suite has its own outdoor rainforest shower and the two bedroom cottages are designed for groups and families. The resort has two restaurants, the newly named Bamboo Restaurant and Bar and the Cocoa Pod Restaurant. Both restaurants offer dishes with Caribbean and St. Lucian flair and are created with the freshest produce found in the resort’s gardens and river.
“As the resort is situated among lush cocoa groves, guests can not only smell chocolate wafting by on warm breezes, but they can also actively engage in the processing of chocolate if they wish, from cocoa harvesting and cocoa drying to cocoa dancing,” said the Managing Director of Fond Doux Plantation & Resort, Eroline Lamontage.
The Processing of the Cocoa Beans
Cocoa Fermentation House
The Cocoa Fermentation House consists of six cocoa fermentation boxes. Whenever the cocoa pods are ripe, the estate workers collect the pod and crack them in half. The beans inside are placed into the boxes and covered with some fresh banana leaves. The beans ferment for an average of ten days. During the fermentation process, the natural yeast and bacteria in the air causes the beans to release the pulp, this pulp is called the cocoa vinegar, which can be used as any other vinegar.
Cocoa Drying Trays
After the beans are fermented, they are placed on large drying trays in the sun for an average of two to three weeks. When it starts to rain, the trays are wheeled back in as it can cause fungus.
After the beans have fermented and dried, they are placed into a large pot. An estate worker takes a young cocoa pod, scrapes away the outer part and adds some water to form a mixture. He then sprinkles the mixture over the beans to preserve them and enters the pot barefooted and dances on the beans. The dance is called the Cocoarina dance. After the beans have been polished they are placed on drying trays for two weeks. “At the end of this process we have 100 per cent pure cocoa, nothing added or extracted from the beans,” explains Eroline.
FoodChain first featured the Fond Doux Plantation & Resort in April 2016. Since then the resort has gone through a number of changes and it is clear that innovation is key to the resort’s success in the hotel and leisure markets. The Jardin Cacao Restaurant has been replaced and renamed the Bamboo Restaurant and Bar. Eroline explains: “The surrounding bamboo walls make the name an obvious choice and with cacao being a predominant theme in other restaurants around St. Lucia, we wanted to standout from the crowd.” The Cocoa Pod Restaurant has also undergone transformation with an enhanced roof and a wall of fame, with the photographs of celebrities and public figures that have contributed to the resort’s success. In addition to the renovations a new executive chef joined the Fond Doux culinary team to improve the menus. Both menus feature Creole chicken and freshly caught fish and shrimp that are infused with locally grown seasonings, vegetables, salads, staples and traditional St. Lucian preparations, for healthy and culinary experiences.
Other improvements include new signage, two of the one-bedroom cottages have been redeveloped, the Eroline gift shop has had a makeover, and the resort has upgraded to three-phase electricity and improved Wi-Fi. “It’s been a busy time for us and we are very proud of our achievements, and awards,” Eroline commented.
The awards presented to Eroline and the team for 2016 stand out as a real testament to the innovation happening at the Fond Doux Plantation & Resort: “We are the winner of numerous awards including America’s 2016 Best Sustainable Boutique Hotel, TripAdvisor and Hotels.com Certificate of Excellence 2016 and the 2016 Trip Experts Choice Award for the Hotel and Heritage Tour. The resort has also been recertified as a Green Globe Member as we are dedicated to championing the protection of the environment.”
Vision for 2017
Further innovative developments have been put in place for 2017. Eroline is focusing on completing the resort’s gym, an extension of the spa to include anoutdoor treatment area and new hands on chocolate making lessons to enhance the cocoa and chocolate experiences in the area. Eroline was keen to mention that staff training will also be enhanced for the year ahead: “We will offer continuous staff training throughout 2017 to include on property coaching activities and training programmes as they become available to us.”
Eroline concludes: “The resort is looking to explore more sustainable measures with the vision to become the best sustainable hotel in the world within the next three to five years. Saint Lucia has continuously been awarded the best wedding and honeymoon destination and as a result of this, there has been an increasing demand for the honeymoon suites and so the resort will be constructing an additional ten cottages.”