Bananaquit House, St.Lucia

In February, my husband and I along with our daughter went on a group trip, with 8 other friends, to the Bananaquit House in St. Lucia. You are probably wondering why our son didn’t come. Well, when the trip was originally booked it was supposed to be a kids free trip but knowing that we were expecting we couldn’t agree to go unless we brought baby girl along. Lucky for us, we have amazing friends and they all agreed to let us bring our 6-month-old (thank you guys xo). Don’t worry though. Our son was happy to spend the week with his Mimi and Papi (my in-laws) and have them all to himself.

I am usually much more humble than this but I think that we stayed in the most breathtaking accommodations with the most spectacular view of the island’s pitons. The Bananaquit House was the very definition of luxury. We owe our stay/accommodations to our friends George and Chelsea who, once again, made this trip possible for the group. The villa had 7 bedrooms, a panoramic view of the ocean and pitons, 4 full-time staff, and a 36-foot infinity pool. It was heaven on earth.

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At the time of our departure, my mom was still in the hospital since she had just had her debulking surgery (following her ovarian cancer diagnosis). I was going to cancel the trip but she and urged me to go, get some rest (since I had been spending my days with the kids and evenings/nights at the hospital) and come back re-energized and ready to tackle the rest of her recovery/treatments. My gut was telling me to stay but I listened to mom and, before leaving, made sure that there were flights home available while we were there just in case I needed to return home. The good news is that I was able to speak with mom daily, which eased my guilt about being away, and that she did ok while I was gone. Luckily she had my sister with her and she took amazing care of her.

So, we packed our things last minute, boarded the flight to St. Lucia and I’m happy that we did. Before leaving I was SO overwhelmed with fear, sadness, and anxiety. I literally felt as though I couldn’t breathe. People often talk about feeling anxious but I could never relate. Until now. I was running between home and the hospital and felt guilty when I wasn’t at one or the other and trying to understand and cope with mom’s diagnosis. I was literally working on fumes. This trip allowed me to slow down, breathe and return home better equipped to tackle the road ahead.

Looking back at the trip, I think that St. Lucia may be one of the most beautiful spots that I will ever see in my life. We spent a week in our beautiful villa and the staff were incredible! The women that worked there were unbelievably kind and made the most amazing meals. We happened to have been there on Valentine’s Day and they made a special meal for those of us who didn’t go out for dinner. They also made us awesome snacks for us when we had beach days. Their crab cakes were insane!

Our days were spent enjoying the beautiful views that our villa had to offer, going on walks, eating good food, sipping on cocktails and relaxing.

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Some other highlights of the trip are as follow:

  1. The “famous” Anse Chastenet beach: was about a 20-minute walk from our villa so we visited it on a few occasions. The walk to the beach was hilly but fun 🙂 and the beach was breathtaking and well worth the walk. There happened to be a fabulous restaurant on the beach that made the best hamburgers I have EVER eaten in my 32 years of existence. I believe the restaurant is owned by the Jade Mountain hotel. If you ever go to this beach, “you gotta eat here.”
  2. Jalousie beach: was is insane. We took a boat over to this beach and spent the afternoon and it was 100% worth it. The views were breath-taking and almost unbelievable. I am so grateful to have been able to spend just a few hours here. The beach was white as white (although we later found out that the sand is shipped in) and the water couldn’t have been clearer. There were a few stunning sailboats that were docked and it was a relatively quiet beach. It is also the location of the famous Sugar Beach resort. Once we arrived, we parked ourselves on the beach, enjoyed a couple cocktails and sucked in the views while we could.
  3. Dashene restaurant and bar: there were two dinners planned outside of the villa. I wasn’t able to make one of them, however, my daughter and I were able to make the first night out to the Dashene restaurant. The restaurant was part of the Ladera resort, a luxury resort in Soufriere, located on a volcano ridgeline which is also a UNESCO world heritage site. The evening views of the pitons were once again stunning. From what I understand, the restaurant’s chef used local ingredients to prepare his meals and his dishes were to die for. I highly recommend this restaurant if you’re looking to eat out while in Soufriere, Dashene is a must.

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Overall, this trip was stunning and exceptionally planned by our friends. A HUGE thank you to them for this trip and for making it possible for all of us. For those thinking about traveling to St. Lucia I say “just do it.” You only get to live once so take advantage of the opportunities that arise.

Bon voyage!

Love,

Ash xo

Madeira Beach, Florida

This past spring, we took our first family trip. We rented our friend’s condo in Madeira Beach, Florida and had an awesome time. I think that the kids were at a perfect age for this kind of trip. Our son was almost 3.5 and our daughter almost 8 months old. Lucky for us, my lovely in-laws (Mami and Papi) joined us for the first week and flew down with us as well. I have to say that before leaving I was nervous about how our son was going to behave at the airport and how the flight was going to go with both kids. The good news is that they surprised us both and did very well. I don’t know about you but I sometimes worry about what “could” happen before something even happens. It is as though I am always trying to prepare for the worst case scenario but 9 times of out 10 the kids surprise me and I don’t have to. I guess this is something I have to work on ;).

As a kid, I had never been to Florida and grew up never really having a desire to go until our friends brought us down for a week over four years ago. After that first trip to Madeira (pre-kids), we were hooked. Madeira Beach sucked us into its beautiful weather and beaches. It is also just a short flight away from Ottawa which makes it even more appealing with two little ones.

We spent the two weeks exploring the area around our condo. Each day, after breakfast, we would pack our things and spend our entire mornings by the beach and our afternoons by the pool. Beach time was amazing. We literally spent hours playing in the ocean and sand. I don’t think that there is anything better for the soul than plain old playing and laughter. We built castles, buried our son (as per his request of course ;)), ate picnics on the beach and swam for hours. By the end of the morning, we were all covered in sand and literally had it everywhere. It was amazing!

This trip also allowed us to break free of our regular routines. By routines I mean meal routines, nap routines, outings etc. Rather than having our daughter nap in her crib in the mornings, and being stuck in the condo, she napped on the beach in her stroller. If she didn’t fall asleep, it was ok. She just ended up sleeping more in the afternoon. Also, half of our meals and snacks were on the go, by the beach or by the pool. We also took the kids out to a few restaurants for lunch and once for dinner. Ok. I need to be honest here. The lunches were great but we had to pack up a dinner and rush the kids home one evening. It wasn’t their faults though. I think we were getting too used to our new go with the flow lifestyle and thought that a dinner reservation at 630pm would turn out ok. Well, things didn’t end disastrously but the kids weren’t too interested and that was ok. We tried giving our son his iPad and our daughter all the toys in the world to play with but they were spent. In the end, we ended up taking our food home, put the kids down and enjoyed our French meal by candlelight at the condo.

One of the most memorable days of this trip was when one of our condo neighbours, D and J took us out on their boat. They have two young kids as well which was great for ours. I have to say that they were incredibly kind and generous. They took time out of their weekend to bring us to a breathtaking sandbar close to John’s Pass and I mean breathtaking. It was one of the coolest things I had ever done. I couldn’t believe that there were so many people at the sand bar and how organised and prepared everyone was. People brought volleyball nets, floating tables for food and drinks, their dogs, chairs etc. We spent the afternoon at the sandbar listening to music, watching the kids have a blast, people watching and just taking in the amazing view that the sandbar had to offer.

Some of my other favourite things about this trip are as follows:

  • Seeing the kids so happy
  • Playing
  • Watching our son fill his buckets with sand and water for hours
  • Afternoon naps (these were fabulous and I didn’t feel guilty about them because I wasn’t home and didn’t feel compelled to keep busy)
  • Touring around with the kids
  • Enjoying relaxing evenings with Julien and some bubbly 😉
  • Going with the flow
  • Watching our daughter become more mobile – she started dragging herself around during this trip
  • Beach yoga (this was the specific moment I fell in love with yoga)

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Overall, this was an amazing trip. After spending two weeks on holiday, we were relaxed and ready to return home to enjoy spring in Ottawa. For those who haven’t been and who are considering going, I highly recommend a family trip to Madeira Beach, Florida.

Ash xo

Do you have any favourite spots in Florida? If so, I would love to hear about them!