The Rex St. Lucian Hotel
by Emmanuel Petit-Déjeuner
The St. Lucian by Rex Resorts is the oldest swinger in town... Forty-odd years it's been snoozing amiably on one of the better beaches, as boutique upstarts wax and wane island-wide. Big or small though, pricey or not, they all fall prey to that charming yet notorious Lucian horizontality that sees swimming pools regularly built 'lickle but DEEP BWOY!' due to volume taking precedence over area at the planning stage.
Still, you can experience wonderful culinary excess in St. Lucia, as was the case with the job in hand – breakfast. Setting aside the quotidian hazards of the all-inclusive resort (pre-printed apology cards to cover a range of likely gripes arrived like clockwork, accompanied by mollifying Israeli cava faster than we could drink it) this was one arena in which our tired old maid of a hotel truly perked up.
The usual cornucopia of pastries, cereals and eye-wateringly fresh fruit (guava, paw-paw, soursop and green fig all delivered with alacrity by Crazy Laughing Machete Fruit Boat Guy) was augmented with above average scrambled eggs, admirably crisp bacon and the noble rot of the pancake and French Toast station. This last had Les Mini Petit-Déjeuners excitedly klanging an imaginary countertop bell and demanding "Breakfast number four pleeeeease!" in the manner of a particularly gluttonous bank cashier.
To one side, with the mercury hot enough even at 7am to make your own T-1000, the luckless omelette sous-chef stood sweating like John Leslie in full whites and a toque (vraiment de trop, non?). A more wan individual it was impossible to imagine, but despite his five vicious burners turning his kitchen corner into a close approximation of Tartarus, he could do things with a spatula that would embarrass many Michelin-botherers back home.
Add to this a surprising and delightful array of local specialities freshly made each day, from the lip smacking akkra fritters (black-eyed peas and saltfish flakes to you or I) to the primordially satisfying griddled plantain and cassava (plus a few curve-balls in the rather unedifying shape of deep-fried dumpling 'bakes', the terminally weird breadfruit – imagine making a salad with DHL foam packing pellets - and baked beans wearing their Sunday best Scotch Bonnets) and we could have lingered there for hours if it weren't for the lonely flagon of Piz Buin crying in Chalet No.4.
So would we go back to St. Lucia? For sure. Almost certainly not to that particular hotel, but did the breakfast linger in the memory? By jingo yes... and who knows, come Jazz Festival time, if you see a somewhat sun-kissed 'heavy fork' bogling under the palms with a stack of perilously teetering pancakes - say bonjour, do.