Rendezvous is a family business and always has been.
The values that underpin what we do at our St Lucia couples resort and why we do it, come from the fact that my family has been in the Caribbean since 1652. We love St. Lucia and it's people, and we want to share our island home with you, our guests.
My name is Andrew Barnard and I am a 6th generation Barnard on the island. I am also a Director at Rendezvous. We have a lot of history and a lot of stories to tell about the island and our time on it, and I thought that you may be interested to hear a little about what makes us believe so passionately about our hotel.
Our family story begins in Plymouth, England on September 6th 1620, when my ancestors set sail on The Mayflower to start a new life in America. They settled in Carolina and indeed today we still have family connections with the USA. The family prospered, and in 1652 John Barnard left the UK to take up the position of Accountant General in the colony of Jamaica for the British Government.
St. Lucia Beckons
Samuel Barnard Jr moved to St. Lucia in 1833 as a missionary to set up a school in St.Lucia former capital, Vieux Fort. Again the family prospered and the family business became quite diverse having a hand in many businesses. If you go to the island's museum you can see tokens minted by the family to hand to the employees when they had worked loading coal onto boats in the harbour, they handed them in for cash. These Barnard and Company coins ended up being used as currency around the island.
The Estate and Distilleries
Sugar and rum is very important in our family history, and our estate up in the mountains was known as La Kaye (Creole for The House). Even today the area is still called La Kaye. Denis Barnard, my grandfather, built up the estate and was the most successful planter on the island in the pre-war era. Laurie, my late uncle, carried on that tradition, but instead of growing sugar cane he used it to distil rum and over the last forty years the family has built a reputation as being excellent rum distillers. The World International Rum Conference has ranked our best rum, Admiral Rodney, in the top three rums in the world.
Sugar to Hotels
The story goes that one day in 1948, Denis Barnard bought a plot of land on Malabar beach to build a small getaway, as he spent a lot of time up on the sugar estate in the country in isolation. The house he built had a large tiled bar that opened up onto the beach and many people thought that it was a public bar and used to walk in and order drinks. Denis was quite a character and his fondness for company meant that he even invited many of these guests for lunch or dinner, served by Lionel his butler. Imagine their surprise when they asked for the bill only to be told that they were actually in someone's house!
Then in 1966 Denis built a series of small cottages to rent out to the ever-increasing amount of people who had begun to visit St. Lucia and first boutique hotel of St Lucia was born. However this did not stop him using his home as a social club and as he was such a great storyteller and raconteur, people would still flock to have a drink on the beach with him. Indeed there have been many famous guests wandering in and out of his house and the hotel over the years. Led Zeppelin stayed with him, 10cc and the crew of the Royal Yacht Britannia were so impressed with the toasted coconut desert that they took the recipe back on board. We never heard whether the Queen liked it!
Since those early days with a handful of cottages and a bar, Rendezvous developed, adding new rooms and finally becoming beautiful resort that it is today.
I think that Denis would be proud of what we have achieved over the years and I think that his spirit lives on in our guests as they too enjoy the beauty of Malabar beach, the evenings spent with a drink in their hand watching the sun set, listening to the breeze and swapping stories and telling jokes. He would be most proud of the fact that over the years we have never lost sight of what made it such a magical hotel; personal service, a passion for looking after people and enjoying time together.