One of our most frequently asked questions is: How do we eat?
Whether you are new to renting a private villa, or have been doing it for years, the answer to this question is different for every rental and can significantly impact your enjoyment of your vacation. No one wants to show up to a beautiful home with a great view, then find out they have to drive an hour to get to a restaurant or find groceries. And most people don’t want to spend a large part of their vacation in the kitchen making meals.
Fortunately, at Villa Grand Piton, we have numerous options for your dining experiences. No one ever goes home hungry!
To get you started off right and make your first 24 hours stress-free, we supply a generous welcome basket of food and beverages that awaits you at the villa. Subject to availability, the welcome basket typically has: one roti per person (a roti is curried vegetables, with or without chicken, wrapped in a very thin wrapper – think an Indian burrito), beer, wine, homemade rum punch, crackers, cheese, Coke and Sprite, fruit juice, tea, coffee, milk, bacon, eggs, bread, butter, jam, cereal, and local fruit. The welcome basket has enough food and beverages for a “happy hour” upon arrival, a light dinner, then breakfast the next morning.
If you prefer to eat some meals away from the villa, we are only a short drive (10 – 20 minutes) to a good choice of restaurants (see our restaurant guide). From food trucks to crystal and white-tablecloth restaurants, you are sure to find something that meets your taste and your budget close by. The one thing you won’t find is a chain fast-food restaurant in Soufriere – no McDonald’s or Subway nearby.
If you prefer to eat at the villa, but have someone cook for you – our extraordinary property manager, housekeeper and cook, Doxie, can make something for you for a modest cooking fee. For instance, she cooks a multi-course dinner for only $20 US for your party if you provide the groceries. If you prefer that she provides the groceries for dinner, her price is $50 US for the first couple, then $25 per person above two people. Her meals are very generous – most people have leftovers. Ask her when you arrive if you are looking for a more complete meal plan – she is willing to provide other meals besides dinner, but will quote you the cost when you work out the menu for the other meals.
Doxie also makes the roti you get in the welcome basket, and sells those for $5 US each. One of our favorite lunches is one of her roti and a couple of ice-cold Piton beers. She has many other options, too, and makes delicious cakes (especially with the local chocolate or lemon).
We sometimes get asked why we don’t include the price of the cook in our nightly rate. Many of the other nearby villas have both a cook and a housekeeper on staff, included in their rate. That means you are paying for two people every single day. Most of our guests eat many of their meals away from the villa, and have Doxie cook for only a few meals. So it is more cost-effective for you to pay for only the cooking services you use instead of paying for them for every meal, no matter whether you eat at the villa or not.
If you want to cook some meals yourself at the villa, there is a grocery store in Soufriere, only a ten-minute drive away. You can also provide Doxie a shopping list, and she will do the shopping and bring it up to you for a small fee. Her fee depends on the amount of groceries you want her to source, but it is typically a few dollars for a couple of bags of groceries. The grocery store has a fairly decent selection, but will likely seem limited in comparison to your usual store. For instance, you won’t find 102 options for tea – 10 is closer to what you will find.
Grocery prices are most likely a little higher than you are used to paying. When you are shopping, do keep in mind the price shown includes tax. As long as you are willing to buy store brands (IGA is the brand for the stores in St Lucia), the prices won’t be too bad – we usually figure about 20% higher than in the US. But if you insist on a name brand (such as “Cheetos” instead of “IGA cheese curls”), you can pay almost twice what you usually do. Keep in mind pre-packaged food has to be brought in by boat or flown in, so anything imported from the US or UK will be expensive. We frequently buy boxes of our favorite breakfast muffin mix or brownie mix at our local grocery in Houston, and take those in our luggage.
Doxie is also your go-to person to source the protein for your meal – and she can get you fruits and vegetables, too. The grocery options for meat and fish is limited at best, and you’ll get far better quality and lower prices if you just ask Doxie to get it for you. Fresh fish is particularly wonderful – usually caught just that morning. The other local proteins include chicken, goat, lamb, and beef – although the beef is best for braising as it is free-range grass-fed and therefore isn’t a good choice for steaks or ground beef.
You may want to ask her help if you find the fruit varieties are a little unfamiliar. One of our guests bought a lot of what they thought were bananas, only to find out they were plantains! Plantains are delicious, but cooked and eaten very differently from bananas.
There is also a market down by the dock in Soufriere on Saturdays, and you can find vendors for fruits and vegetables around the square in Soufriere most days of the week.
We have a large stainless-steel propane grill on the deck overlooking the Pitons, and the kitchen is well-stocked with practically anything you need to make your meals. We even have an automatic ice-cream maker! The one limitation is our oven – there is no built-in oven, so we have a countertop convection oven, which works well for smaller items (muffins, a single cake layer, etc.)
So what foods do we miss when we are in St Lucia? Decaffeinated coffee, good cheese, and good beef (ground beef and steaks). Hot dogs can be hard to find, too.
The local coffee, “Green-Gold”, is smooth and delicious (there will be a half-pound in your welcome basket), but it does not come in a decaffeinated version. You might find Maxwell House and Sanka (or bring your own like I do).
You can get a few kinds of cheese, but if, for instance, you crave Stilton and Provolone Piccante and Parmigiano-Reggiano, you’ll have to bring your own.
An island in the middle of the Caribbean is not the best place for high-quality corn-fed beef. You can get a good burger at the restaurant on Anse Mamin beach (but bring a full piggy-bank – the price is $18US before taxes), and good steaks at some of the high-end restaurants. But we recommend you have your fill of beef before you arrive on the island, or bring it with you (ask us how if you are interested).
Hot dogs? We personally don’t miss hot dogs, but if you love hot dogs on the grill, it can be hard to find those, too. And you won’t find typical hot dog buns, either – you’ll have to use bread or rolls. So ask us how to bring your own, if you must.
We hope you’ve found all this information useful. But you may still be wondering what a good dining plan looks like. Here is what most of our guests do for a one-week stay (7 dinners): welcome basket food the first night; Doxie cooks two dinners; two dinners at “nice” restaurants; then leftovers or carryout pizza from Ruby’s – or cooking fresh fish themselves – for the other two dinners (or have Doxie cook another night). Some guests go on the sunset sail with Mystic Man, and they have hors d’oeuvres on the boat – then they come back for light leftovers if they did not have enough on the boat.