THE sweet-scented breeze, the tropical beaches, the nights spent chilling around a jerk chicken barbecue sinking my fifth rum punch. . .
And on top of that, I'd found the perfect souvenir to remind me of my sunshine holiday in St Lucia to take back with me to Britain - banana ketchup.
This genius foodstuff is made from an age-old recipe and sold by the squeezy bottle at Castries' market, where you can also choose from fine jewels and handmade crafts that capture the island spirit.
And believe me, when the friendly market traders give you a sample of this dreamy yellow delight, you'll want to ship it back by the bucket-load. It really is the perfect keepsake to give your BBQ back home that tropical taste.
There are plenty of things on the Caribbean paradise island of St Lucia (pronounced "loo-sha") to make you smile.
Arriving at the Almond Smugglers Cove all-inclusive resort, I was greeted with a big, warm welcome and an even bigger glass of rum punch. It seems this is common practice in St Lucia, where chatty locals and topped-up glasses are always guaranteed.
Through the open-air lobby, I caught a glimpse of a secluded bay overlooked by dangling coconut palm trees. A steel band played quietly in the distance.
Armed with my factor 50, I did what most guests do and headed straight to the nearest sun lounger.
Laying back and sipping my rum punch, I peered through my shades at my fellow sunseekers.
Across the beach was a mix of couples, families and groups of all ages - but with more than 60 acres, the Smugglers Cove has plenty of space without feeling crowded.
The resort provides rest and relaxation but there's lots of outdoor fun and excitement for those who want that little extra.
The relaxed tropical setting boasts a choice of four bars - including a swim-up pool bar - all serving premium brand drinks and cocktails. And the Almond Kids' Club caters for children of all ages, from newborns to teenagers.
Activities include a kids' pool complete with slides, tie-dying and craft classes, while parents can relax and enjoy themselves knowing their little angels are having fun and are being well looked after.
And there are plenty of ways to enjoy your time here. Any cricket fan will know that pedalos are one of the attractions in St Lucia.
Freddie Flintoff liked them so much when here, he just couldn't wait until the sun came up for a ride on them. Kids, eh?
But if you don't fancy doing a Freddie, the resort itself has all-inclusive watersports including snorkelling, windsurfing, sailing, kayaking, banana boat rides and waterskiing.
I also got to see the island from new heights at the International Pony Club, situated just 10 minutes from the hotel.
My noble steed - aptly named Rocky - and I set off on the dusty trail with the warm sun beaming down on my shoulders.
The guided ride takes you on a tranquil journey through the glorious virgin rainforest.
Although the last few years have seen the construction of many big resorts to cater for the 350,000 tourists a year, St Lucia is essentially unspoit. In fact the mountainous island of some 243 square miles remains virtually untouched from the days when smugglers really did swash-buckle their way onto dry land.
So riding in only a bikini, sarong and flip-flops, I felt like I was cast away on the island and was living a scene from a romance novel.
The horse knew the trail well and, like all the locals, was relaxed and laid-back. As we rounded the top of the hill, the glistening ocean burst into view.
An exhilarating gallop down the beach (for experienced riders only) was completed with a satisfying dip in the ocean - and yes, the horse came in too.
Much like the island itself, Rocky was a unique character. Other horses in our party were happy to teeter cautiously along the shoreline.
Rocky, however, had other plans for his unsuspecting rider and plunged enthusiastically into the deep, warm water.
Soaked - but thoroughly happy - I was grateful for the afternoon sunshine. The weather here usually stays above 70infinityF all year round.
All that was enough to work up my appetite and back at the resort there are four restaurants serving a choice of delicious cuisine.
Guests can choose from The Cove's continental-style buffet, Enid's traditional St Lucian restaurant, an Italian cafe and my personal favourite the Waterside Grill - a seafood restaurant with gorgeous views across the tropical lagoon.
And if you are far too relaxed (or merry) to make it to dinner, there is even a beach barbecue so you can scoff burgers under the evening sun. Don't forget to wash the whole lot down with a rum punch or a local Piton Beer.
As the sun set into the turquoise sea, I knew the fun was only just beginning.
The hotel has nightly cabaret with performances of Phantom Of The Opera and other West End musicals while the house band will have you up and dancing in no time.
Meanwhile, karaoke at Tommy's Rum Shop Bar was in full swing.
Local celebrity Basil was on hand to accompany the aspiring Frank Sinatras on the piano.
Several cocktails later, I was ready to belt out my favourite tunes to a rapturous - and perhaps rum-induced applause.
As far as holidays go, going all-inclusive in St Lucia is a way of holidaying like a celeb.
You can get up when you want, go to bed when you want and eat and drink all day - if that's what you fancy. For a laidback break in the sun, this is the perfect setting.
As I stood in the shade of a tall coconut palm, I looked around at the glow of smiling faces.
St Lucia is much like the famous rum punch itself - delicious and utterly intoxicating.