Ever wondered if you could purchase anything decent for under a pound in the UK? Do you think that we are rip off Britain,  well we have sent two researchers of around the world to see what they can buy for 80 Pence.  Conclusion?  There's nothing quite like playing FTSE underneath the table.

AROUND THE WORLD ON 80P – St Lúcia

Eastern Caribbean Dollar (XCD) $3.45 = 80P
 
With its white sandy, palm fringed beaches, lush green backdrop, iconic Piton Mountains and it's obvious warm tropical climate, not only does St Lúcia exude romance it's been awarded 'The Worlds Leading Honeymoon Destination' at The Worlds Travel Awards.
 
Like most Caribbean islands, it thrives on tourism, on which its revenue is primarily dependent, along with banana production and with such apparent appeal, St Lúcia used to be a regular getaway spot for me, at least every couple of months.  It's been almost one year since my last visit, I was very surprised, to say the least, and here's why......
 
Whilst I still enjoyed the amazing, beautiful and idyllic backdrops the economy seems very hard hit.  The Royal St Lucian, my hotel of choice and at one time my favourite hotel destination in the world, was 'veery' deserted.  Some of the rooms, in this 4 star hotel were refurbished but most were 'under construction'! Although the complete refurbished rooms were bigger and somewhat better (the six wall shower outlets and 20" square overhead shower head was the biggest improvement).  The rooms we're still only on par with a room at a UK's Premier Inn.  
 
The hotel staff were personable, friendly, chatty, incredibly accommodating but the hotel was in trouble! There appeared to be a lot more workers than guests and the few that were there complained significantly about the noise around their room.
 
Questioning the staff, I was informed there is much work to be done at the hotel but there is a lack of finance, generally in St Lúcia. The outcome...  Hiked prices -everywhere!
 
Three years ago, the local bar restaurant scene was buzzing with salsa nights, karaoke bars and street barbecues yet that same tourist stretch is only marginally littered with visitors.  Many of those once vibrant bars have been forced to close including the controversial bar 'Rehab', which locals debate whether it was named after or owned and named by the late Amy Winehouse? 
 
X Factor’s judge Tulisa used the setting of St Lúcia to narrow down her choice of finalists.
 
Has the islands attraction of a spluttering of British 'celebrities' hiked the prices too? 
 
What I do know is, 500ml bottle three years ago cost around $4-6 (£1-2) now its closer to $17 (£4).
 
Have you ever gone on holiday and put the decimal point in the wrong place? Got the exchange rate completely wrong in your head?
 
My colleagues went for an Indian meal (I know, in the Caribbean, I personally fancied some jerk/creole chicken or fried fish but each to their own!) Anyhow they decided to go for a Buy One Get One Free curry – sounds like a cheap night out right? Imagine their disbelief when the bill was £25 a head.  It was an embarrassing scene of arguments, accusations of varying exchange rates and trying to count shrapnel to pay the bill.  But how could a curry of around £10-15 per dish with a BOGOF offer...  The punch line or rip off, each person had 2 poppadoms each at the cost of £4 each!!
 
Extortionate right!?! Watch out for the small print! The BOGOF was only on main curry dishes!!!
 
I have to say, this is the first place I've visited where the prices were comparable to the high streets in London.  Very expensive even canned drinks in hotels or supermarkets were closer to £1.50 than 80p.  Perhaps if I'd searched I may have found them but there wasn't a dollar store, or 'cheap shops' to be found.
 
St Lucia is one of the most picturesque Caribbean islands excluding romance, which certainly isn't dead – but it'll cost ya (or more to the point, him)!!
 
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Article by Dawne B / 24th October 2012

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Around the World on 80p