They say that admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery. So, I admit it, I am addicted to mangos. The smooth skin, the fleshy fruit and yes, even the horrific mess they make as the juice drips onto my hands and dries creating a sticky masterpiece. For that reason, I made the quasi-religious pilgrimage to Nick Troubetzkoy and Karolin Guter Troubetzkoy's Jade Mountain Resort on the stunning Caribbean island of Saint Lucia. Hosted by award-winning Chef Allen Susser, an authority on all things mango, he was ever-present throughout the event to help educate and celebrate the many glories of the island's most versatile fruits one delicious dish at a time.
Owner/architect Nick Troubetzkoy has done a breathtaking job in creating an island sanctuary and it is easy to see why the accolades keep coming as the views of the Piti and Gros Piton Mountains offer a sense of serenity as they appear to gently float just above the crest of the ocean.
Accommodations aren't simply rooms, but aptly named "sanctuaries," with an open fourth wall providing an amazing view of the Pitons. Guests can choose from "Star," "Moon," "Sun" or "Galaxy" sanctuaries with infinity pools, 15-foot high ceilings and king size beds. There are also five two-level "SKY" Jacuzzi suites that offer a large living space, open bath design, and a raised Jacuzzi tub. Furniture, living areas, and flooring are derived from over 20 species of tropical hardwood harvested with a respect for the delicate surrounding ecosystem.
The Mango Madness festivities started with a "Cooking in Paradise" class on the beach where Chef Jonathan shared his favorite mango recipes. That evening I moved into the Jade Mountain Club for the Mad Mango Cocktail Party, enjoying a variety of tropical mango cocktails including a 30 pound infused mango, "Mangotini," as well as the "St. Lucian Rum Mango Mojito."
Day two was not to be outdone as I experienced a once-in-a-lifetime mango tour of the Emerald Gardens, hosted by Chef Allen, complete with a farm to table tasting. Chef took me back to the Jade Club Lounge for his "Mangos Rule!" interactive cooking demonstration and the evening concluded with "A Night of 1,000 Mangos Jade Mountain Original Dinner," a five-course spectacular.
On Sunday, I chose a leisurely mango inspired breakfast in the club overlooking the Pitons. Offerings included mangos, artisan cheese, and freshly baked breads. That afternoon I adjourned to the Tree House Restaurant for a Mango chutney workshop where I learned how to preserve the exotic flavor of the mangos with many of the spices indigenous to the island.
Monday kept me busy as I took a shuttle boat to lunch on the private beach at Jungle Grill at Anse Mamin, and toured its plantation to witness how mangos and other Caribbean delectables are grown. The day culminated with a cocktail party on the Celestial Terrace with hors d'oeuvres reflecting the wonderful flavors of the region.
Despite the beloved mango madness, I had ample time to enjoy the wonders of Jade Mountain, while not totally off the grid, as Wi-Fi is available in rooms and in many of the common spaces across the resort. They deliberately limit the intrusions of telephones, radios and televisions allowing guests to experience their Sanctuary with a sense of true serenity. Dining options included the Jade Mountain Club, complete with its own infinity pool, where Chef Allen celebrates the bold, yet simple, flavors of "Jade Cuisine."
Not a bad way to learn about the wonders of the mango. Needless to say, I am more than ready to return in October for their "Discover Chocolate Festival."
PHOTO CREDIT: Joshua Estrin