This week we are celebrating World Chocolate week, and there is no better place than at Boucan By Hotel Chocolat We decided to find out more about our favourite British chocolatier and asked its founder, Angus Thirlwell, a few questions.
Angus founded Hotel Chocolat in 2004 together with his business partner Peter Harris. After being sent a 1920 edition of the book Cocoa & Chocolate, Their History from Plantation to Consumer by one of his customers, Angus found inspiration to guide the company towards growing its own cocoa. An intensive search across several islands finally led Angus to buy The Rabot State in Saint Lucia in 2008.
The beautiful setting of the plantation inspired the opening of Boucan Hotel 4 years later. The hotel is 1,000 feet above the Caribbean Sea and its 14 stylish rooms offer views of Saint Lucia’s stunning Piton Mountains.
Here at Turquoise, we’re proud to offer Boucan Hotel as one of the accommodation choices to our customers travelling to Saint Lucia.
How did you come across Rabot Estate?
We started looking for a cocoa plantation after being inspired by an old book sent to me by one of my customers.
Were you looking for a cocoa plantation in St Lucia specifically?
I grew up in Barbados so was looking for somewhere in the Caribbean as I love the culture and the cocoa is the best in the world. Barbados is too dry for cocoa but Saint Lucia is like the Garden of Eden for cocoa.
What is special about that spot in particular?
The twin Piton sea-mountains ahead of you, a lush rainforest behind you it is jaw-droppingly beautiful. A natural paradise.
Is St Lucia well known for cocoa growing?
It is now! We have won awards for the quality of our Saint Lucian estate chocolate, having made the first ever bar in 2009. Prior to that all the cocoa from the island was blended as bulk cocoa, which was a crying shame for a cocoa aficionado.
How does Rabot Estate compare with other cocoa plantations on the island and elsewhere in terms of size and production?
It is the centre of cocoa expertise on the island, with 155 independent cocoa growers members of our Engaged Ethics sustainable cocoa program. The vast majority of Saint Lucian cocoa goes into Hotel Chocolat creations.
Where did the name Hotel Chocolat come from originally?
We created the name to capture the escapist feeling we wanted people to have when they savoured our chocolate.
Was it always your intention to add a hotel like Boucan to the Hotel Chocolat collection?
No, when we bought the estate in 2008 we only had the intention to try and become good cocoa farmers. One night, after we had achieved this goal, we had too much rum and drew a business plan on a napkin!
Where does the name Boucan from?
It is the local name for a cocoa drying shed, as well as the root word of buccaneer (boucaneer) which captures the adventurous concept we have.
What can a guest expect when visiting the hotel?
The experience can be customised to the guest’s desires – a sanctuary, a wellness nature experience, a hedonistic sun worshipping break and any combination of these! We have our own boats and beach excursions as well as a spa, pool club, nature trails, dining and drinking and of course, the whole cocoa plantation experience.
When is the best time to visit to see the cocoa being harvested?
There is always something happening but the very best time to see the most plentiful cocoa is October to May.
How much chocolate is produced at the resort?
We have 140 lush acres at the estate, so plenty of organic, top quality cocoa is grown all around the hotel grounds.
Thanks Angus for taking the time to answer our questions!