As the first British swimmer to win three gold medals at a single World Championship, 20-year-old Adam Peaty looks set to be one of our big hopes in Rio. With these recent successes behind him after a grueling training schedule, and his training now focusing on 2016, Adam and his girlfriend Anna Zair chose St James Club Morgan Bay Saint Lucia for a week of well earned post-win R&R. "I really needed some R&R and we were both keen to pick a location where we felt we could really relax and feel that we'd properly got away from everything for a break," says Adam, who is not only the first British man since David Wilkie in 1975 to win two titles at a single world Championship but also the first man in world championship history to clinch the 50m and 100m breaststroke double. Here he shares his travel diary exclusively with HELLO! Online...
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Tuesday – Arrive – 25th August: We've arrived on the island of Saint Lucia! The drive from the airport to St James's Club Morgan Bay takes us from South to North, and we get a preview of just how much there is to explore beyond the incredible beaches and turquoise waters during our stay: rainforest, sulphur springs, volcanoes…I'm also looking forward to exploring some of the island's old Cocoa plantations and towns, as the history of Saint Lucia is incredibly rich and I'd done a little research before we travelled.
We received such a warm welcome from the resort team, who've really made us feel right at home, and we love the location, it's somehow right in the thick of things in terms of things to do but also it feels as if you've arrived in the middle of a lush quiet rain forest. From our spacious room right on the top of a hill the views aren't just stunning but varied – we can see over the whole resort, the beaches AND the forests. Needless to say we relaxed quickly and settled right in!
After a long trip, it's a first dusk beach walk, dinner and then sleep for us. Our first sunset was pretty spectacular, we definitely adjusted to Caribbean time and the sounds of the waves. We strolled right onwards for a delicious casual buffet-style dinner at the resort's Bambou restaurant, saving the other a la carte dining options for later in the week when we'll be refreshed and can dress up a little. St James's Club Morgan Bay has six distinct restaurants, each serving up a great mix of Caribbean and international dishes, and also vibe-wise they offer a great choice of casual beachfront to smart/sophisticated. We really liked being all-inclusive but with so much choice in dining.
Our first morning waking up on Saint Lucia and THAT view set the tone for the rest of our week-long stay – beautiful and relaxed. We woke earlier than usual due to the time difference and a little jet lag, so it was brilliant to pop into the Choc Bay Café for a cappuccino even before heading for breakfast, as it's open from 6.30am until 10.30pm daily (we popped back for afternoon tea a lot too!). We found it was a really peaceful time of the day to watch the sun rise, enjoy a cuppa and plan the week ahead.
And what an incredible week we had! Here's our top 5 highlights...
1. OUR DAY ON ST JAMES'S CLUB MORGAN BAY "CALYPSO CAT" CATAMARAN
This was such an amazing way to see the island, and a great contrast to our explorations by land later in the week. The team were so keen to book us on to the Catamaran and we soon understood why: we got to lap up the sea breeze, incredible vistas and brilliant stops along the way. There really is nothing more "get away from it all" than sitting back and sailing the waves this way. We sailed the west coast of the island, taking in the rugged beauty along the way, to the historic town of Soufriere with the majestic Pitons (volcanic spires) towering above us – a wow moment! After lunch at a local restaurant it was time to visit Saint Lucia's volcano and sulphur springs for a completely unique experience – bathing (or splashing about and selfie-taking as we did!) in hot, healing natural waters and muds. We also stopped at picturesque tropical botanical gardens and the famous Diamond Waterfall, before cruising through Marigot Bay where the movie Dr. Doolittle was filmed, where we stopped off for a quick for a swim and snorkelling before heading back to the resort.
2. A SAINT LUCIAN ISLAND HISTORY LESSON
One of the reasons we chose the Caribbean and Saint Lucia in particular was because I'd read a little about the island's history and I was keen to explore it further as part of a holiday. Alongside the natural wonders the island boasts, we explored historical and cultural highlights all along the coast from north to south. The British, French and Dutch influences from the island's history can be seen everywhere, and we loved the cultural variety and mix it makes in the vibe when you're out and about. We loved the warmth of the St Lucians also, who make visitors feel very welcome and have great stories too! From the Cocoa plantations to the heritage trails, we both really enjoyed getting under the skin of the island's history and culture while we were there.
3. GO PROS AND SHIPWRECKS
Without a doubt one of the best things I’ve done – scary and awesome all at once! Sailing out, exploring the ocean and getting to take pictures whilst swimming with the fish and sea life was a truly unforgettable experience. Discovering the shipwreck was something I'd never done before and it was spooky, peaceful and just fascinating – I'd definitely recommend doing this while on Saint Lucia.
4. GYM AND SWIM CARIBBEAN-STYLE
While I needed a post-championship break, it's always important to find a location where some elements of my physical routine can be continued, and I'm used to adapting to whatever equipment is available in a gym in a holiday location. What was brilliant for me at St James's Club Morgan Bay was the standard of the gym and the equipment available. General Manager Mark Grebby, keen to ensure those guests used to a frequent fitness regime can continue if they wish, has invested a lot in the fitness centre and I was really pleased to be able to work out pretty much as I'd usually do – not something I assume when travelling, so this was a big bonus. Obviously it was also fantastic to use both the pools and the sea for non-race swimming too! We both also added tennis to our daily activity, always good to mix it up! For down-time, the choice of pools from lively to quiet was also something we enjoyed. We mostly chilled by the adults-only pool located right on the top of a hill, peaceful and stunning views – we definitely managed to switch off.
5. BBQS, BEACHES AND BONFIRES
We were lucky enough to be staying at the resort on the evening when the chef's team took dining down to the beach, and it was one of our favourite nights. Fete Bon Mer as its named, offered a huge selection of dishes, freshly BBQ'd all with the sand between your toes, a big bonfire and a brilliant atmosphere with all the guests and the resort team, just the right amount of eating, mingling and enjoying the sound of the waves in the background.
What we loved most about St James's Club Morgan Bay was that its location gave us the peace and space we wanted but with plenty to do on our own holiday schedule. I only wish I could've stayed longer…but training and Rio call!
St James Club Morgan Bay factbox: 7 nights all inclusive: DialAFlight are offering savings of up to 35% at St James’s Club Morgan Bay, St Lucia. Stay 7 nights (AI) flying with British Airways from just £999pp. Call an expert today on 0844 556 6060. Valid for departures from 7 Apr- 14 May 2016
Book by 31 Oct.