As travel writers, we are occasionally invited to events promoting certain hotels or destinations but Hotel Chocolat and Cap Maison’s latest gathering was something different – tantalising the taste buds as well as capturing the imagination. This promotion boasted ‘rum and chocolate tasting’ to give guests a taste of their rum and cocoa indulgent holidays. Could this job get any better?
Hotel Chocolat and Cap Maison have joined forces in order to attract foodies from around the world to visit the jewel of the Caribbean – St Lucia. Choclatier, retailer, estate owner, restauranteur and hotelier, Angus Thirlwell explained the concept behind the holidays and how the hotel in the Hotel Chocolat family came into being.
He spoke with such passion about the Rabot estate where Hotel Chocolat’s cocoa is grown and the beautiful island of St Lucia and how a book from the 1920s inspired him to explore the idea of Hotel Chocolat growing their own cocoa – which no other chocolatiers seem to do any more – and then on to the development of the hotel. But being a passionate, driven entrepreneur, he didn’t stop there: Angus and co-founder Peter Harris also created spa and restaurant.
Being environmentally conscious, the Hotel Chocolat team likes to let nothing go to waste and they have created some innovative cocktails incorporating the pulp from between the pod and bean. Apparently, they make a mean Mojito: now that I would like to try! In the Boucan restaurant too, the chef uses the pulp, which reportedly tastes like lychees, in his exotic recipes. Cacao is featured as a seasoning throughout the menu in creative, innovative and subtle and subtle ways.
In the spa too, the theme continues with offers of ‘gentle cacao exfoliation, fresh local cacao and banana face mask and then cacao butter hydration’ and the bananas are also grown on the estate, naturally.
Guests interested in cocoa production are invited to chat with anyone who works on the estate at any time but a holiday to Hotel Chocolat would not be complete without the ‘Tree to bar experience’ – a guided tour which offers guests the unique opportunity to see the whole chocolate production from planting, propagating, growing, harvesting, roasting and blending. But, best of all, guests can roast their own beans and produce their very own chocolate bars and truffles. Now, what serious foodie could resist that? But, this special holiday is not just about chocolate: there’s also diving, sailing, hiking and of course – rum!
Cap Maison Director, Adam Gobat, explained his that his wish to tempt foodies to his native St Lucia stemmed from his desire to create something truly special for their guests. The Cliff at Cap restaurant , like the Buchan, is atypical because it is not a ‘hotel restaurant’, but a ‘stand alone’ restaurant, attracting locals and non-residents in addition to guests at Cap Maison and Hotel Chocolat.
Cap Maison is located in the north of St Lucia and boasts some of the best beaches on the island and some of the best views of those beaches are from the roof terraces on Cap Maison’s luxury villas. Cap Maison’s Rum and Cocoa holiday includes a rum appreciation evening at Cliff at Cap’s rum bar. And, having sampled both rum flavoured chocolates and four different pairings of chocolate and rum – under John West’s expert guidance – I can honestly say it’s a combination which really works. The twelve year old rum slips down like a good cognac and I can imagine easily slipping into the routine of drinking this as an after dinner digestif.
This year, Hotel Chocolat is bringing over some of the farmers to visit the flagship stores in the UK. We would love to be there to photograph that experience. And if the welcome we received from staff at the Manchester store was anything to go by, they can be sure of a warm welcome.
Listening to Angus and Adam speak so passionately about St Lucia was enough to make me want to visit – even before I’d seen the photographs of luxury lodges and villas or tasted the rum and chocolate combination. Now, I have to say, it’s top of my ‘must visit’ list. Rum and chocolate holiday anyone? Yes, please!