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One Man’s Tropical Empire

Exploring Sugar Beach, St. Lucia’s ultra-exclusive resort

I’m riding along the winding grounds of Sugar Beach, an opulent luxury hotel in St. Lucia, seated in the back of a glowing pink “Tuk-Tuk” when I happen upon the hotel’s owner. Since Roger Myers opened Sugar Beach, the 78-room resort has gained a word-of-mouth following among the cool cognoscenti—those who can afford to holiday wherever their hearts and black credit cards desire. Matt Damon took over the entire resort to renew his marriage vows; Gwenyth Paltrow and Chris Martin (pre-separation) laid claim to a couple of villas; and Robert De Niro anchored his boat there while enjoying private dinner parties on the beach organized by the hotel staff. At the time of this visit, the 150-foot yacht of your standard Russian oligarch is situated not far from Myers’ own 112-foot sailing yacht, Sunday Morning.

Myers originally set up house permanently in St. Lucia, intent on being “a good layabout” and befriending a local who could teach him how to sail. Although he’d been visiting the Caribbean for over thirty years, he chose St. Lucia because of the gentle charm of its people. “I said to my wife, ‘I’m not going to do anything to make money,’” Myers recalls, while sipping a cup of tea under a thatched umbrella at the resort’s idyllic beach cafe. Not that he necessarily needed to stoke his bank account any further.

Private residence pool

Private residence pool

The former accountant for The Rolling Stones, a then-unknown David Bowie and Black Sabbath, among others, Myers remembers Bowie sitting in his waiting room “wearing a dress, his legs spread apart, and perusing The Accounting Age.” The indigenously modest Myers refers to himself as merely “the adding machine” in his various business ventures, which have also included major stakes in Café Rouge, a British chain of 130 restaurants, as well as once owning a whopping ten percent of the 60,000 pubs in the United Kingdom, the latter of which he sold for a fortune. Between sailing jaunts to the South Pacific and the Panama Canal, the happily retired Myers heard that the Julasee Plantation, a hotel founded by Lord Glenconner (the mastermind behind Mustique, the Jet Set haven of the ‘60s and ‘70s) was for sale. “My wife said, ‘Don’t do it.’ So I did,” jokes Myers. “And I’m thrilled with it. It blows you away, this place.”

That it does. The former 19th-century sugar plantation is a series of 78 gingerbread-trim bungalows and villas, each with a swimming pool and decorated in an island chic white-on-white. Upon entering your cottage, a private butler utters, “Welcome to your home,” and he means it: Newly plucked ferns and bougainvilleas spell your name on the floor before a four-poster bed enveloped in mosquito netting. The sitting room, bathrooms (with free standing tub and twin overhead showers) and private porches are ample in size—and nicely hidden among the verdure of lush banana trees. You experience the sort of sublime privacy—a world of one’s own—which exquisitely defines an exclusive holiday.

Beach bungalow

 If you seek St. Barths—with its legions of New Yorkers exercising the Caribbean version of the Hamptons on holiday—then Saint Lucia, a former French island with rolling hills and rainforests, isn’t for you. Come here for the lush scenery—not the scene.

 Following Myers’ acquisition of the former sugar plantation, he put a halt to his “liming about” and judiciously started to re-fashion what Lord Glenconner could never quite pull off. Myers built Sugar Beach in stages over the past three years (he eventually plans on a total of 110 rooms), which in many ways accounts for its astonishing attention to detail. “This wasn’t to make money,” he emphasizes. “This was something for me to do that I enjoy.” Myers keeps a keen eye on everything from the well-stocked wine selection to the music played throughout the resort. Some of the art from Myers’ private collection in the “Big House” hangs on the property, including pieces by Jonathan Gladding, Lucy Loveheart and Michelle Elliot. Not to mention a Matisse and a piece by John Lennon.

Sugar Beach is not for the faint hearted when it comes to cost. Cottages, depending on size, can run from $1,100 to $2,915 during high season. But in return, you will quite literally find yourself renting an environment that feels like a home. As Myers would say: “If you’re going to do it, do it right.”