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Spice Island Beach Resort, a portrait of luxury travel
By Barbara Kingstone
The Spice Island Beach Resort located on Grand Anse Beach in Grenada , West Indies is an oasis of luxury, light years away from any of the other hotels on the island. With a 2 mile unobstructed fine sand white ( 3.5 km) stretch of beach it gives luxury travel a new dimension. What remains a mystery is why this exclusive hideaway on this Windward Island in the Caribbean, isn’t more known in North America .
Over 65 percent of the chic clientele come from the United Kingdom and most are repeat visitors. Perhaps it’s air accessibility from Canada which was difficult. However, recently Air Canada Vacations has started seasonal flights on Saturdays and Sundays from September to April, directly from various major Canadian getaways.
No matter the time it takes, this resort is worthy of the extra hours to get to The Spice Island Beach Resort where landed gentry meets Grenadian rhythm and where the beat is reggae, calypso, rap and Zouk but somehow still so soothing. That may be because just staring at the horizon where blue skies meet azure waters, this music mix makes it a scenic visual and audio experience.
Butterfly shaped swimming pool
The owner, entrepreneur, Sir Royston Hopkin, K.C.M.G., is a distinguished local who is the recipient the Knight Commander of the most distinguished order of St Michael and St George (K.C.M.G.) bestowed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. And the elegant hotelier makes no bones about how he wants and expects the property to run. In one word…perfectly
When Sir Royston purchased the existing hotel in 1987, he had a vision of having nothing but the best and spent US$6 million in 2000. But in 2004 when Hurricane Ivan devastated the small island with a population of 100,000, The Spice Island Beach Resort was severely damaged and the doors were tightly closed. The rebuild took just over one year (fifteen months) and various new additions were added. It’s a geological and perfect gem again. Yes, good things do come in small packages. There are only 64 suites.
What is always an enigma is the hotel rating on Caribbean islands. A near-by four star resort hotel with motel-sized and dreary decorated rooms- shabby, with gaudy unpleasant hues of bold, unmatched colourations, topped by uneven housekeeping service, several pools and noisy children, enveloped in a dank odour, serving soggy buffet meals with a constant queue of people grabbing plates, unfriendly mediocre staffing and still has the same rating as this truly luxurious, refined hotel Quite a puzzle!. Go figure!
At Spice Island Beach Resort, children are most welcome. The difference is that there’s a Kids’ Club with supervised activities and games and where the children are divided into two age groups. If you’re not their parent or grandparent, the noise, pool splashing and their energetic antics aren’t seen nor heard.
Then there’s the stunning, open sided, sea facing, Oliver’s, a restaurant with a well trained and travelled chef who uses local produce.
The entrance to the elite hotel has a one dimensional façade structure in front of the porte cochere that is shaped like a cathedral and somewhat of a signature of the hotel. But when this ‘structure’ was originally designed, it was to resemble the Taj Mahal. To me it t looks more Moorish but a nice touch nevertheless.
The newly redone public areas, arched arcades and courtyards which lead to the sunny terraces are filled with a barrage of colourful flowers and tropical plants. And from the entrance, a visitor’s first sighting is the great vista blue crystal clear Caribbean Sea . Not bad for first impressions!!. It’s been rated as one of the best honeymoon resorts in the world and without doubt, it oozes romantic venues.
Sophisticated elegance teamed with powder white sandy beaches, no noise except for the whoosh of the waves, a light breeze which wafts through the archways and very chirpy crickets, are the perfect volume since guests think of The Spice Island Resort as a private club. The newly installed pool which gently curves, is surrounded by softly swaying palm trees. Comfortable chaise longes under large umbrellas seem to seduce even the most beach-loving guests since most of the seating is taken early in the day. And of course, there are beach lounges under shaded thatched umbrellas too.
An interesting fact is that Spice Island Beach Resort’s occupancy has increased, even in these difficult times, since their clientele is “recession proof”. “These guests still want to travel to warm climates in luxury environment and be in a safe destinations,” says assistant manager Ryan Hopkin, Sir Royston’s son. The age range is getting lower too, since parents now want to include their children on their vacations away from home. So from Baby Boomers to seniors, this nifty establishment suits everyone’s idea of a story book establishment. And it’s all inclusive so who could ask for more?
Royal Sage villa at Spice Island Beach Resort
All the 64 private suites have access to the sea without any barriers or fences and most face the sea, ocean or gardens.
Villa Sage’s bathroom
Terrace of Royal Sage Villa
Some of the airy rooms decorated in Caribbean hot colours are located on the beach so guests can go from bed to beach, is one giant step. With meaningful islands names like Oleander Rooms, Almond Suites, Cinnamon, Saffron, Sea Grape, Sage Ginger, Mace and Cloves suites, they are all exquisite and different but one thing in common, the air is wonderfully spice scented. A few have wonderful plunge pools, while others are fairytales walled -in villas with a 16’ X 20’ private pool, and a cedar scented sauna just outside the seating area, large bedroom and large marble or porcelain bathroom, most with huge, airy skylights.
Certainly ,if your dream is a romantic getaway, look no further.
And to go with this luxurious property, there are Molton Brown amenities. All rooms are non smoking, as are the public areas..
It’s little wonder that Spice Island Resort earned international recognition in 1994 as one of the Caribbean ’s 100 best resorts.
THE HOUSE RULES, RULE
The “House Rules” for the staff include no smoking and chewing gum on the property, no unauthorized personnel is allowed to go into guests rooms, either occupied or un-occupied, loitering when off duty is a no-no. And there’s a battalion of security guards in mufti that make sure these and other rules are not abused and guests have complete safety.
Seating area in the villas
THINGS TO DO
Besides having snorkeling, scuba and diving among the coral, there’s fishing, bird watching, golfing at a near-by club, on premises tennis courts, a well -equipped fitness centre and the newly expanded Janissa’s Spa. I know I’m being tough, but if there are any points to be lost, at The Spice Island Beach Resort, it’s in the spa area where even though there is a full, innovative menu of pricey treatments, the aestheticians aren’t up to par for such a celebrated resort.
However, all can be forgiven since the boutiques, Gatsby, one for men, the other for women is overseen by (Lady Hopkin), Sir Royston’s wife, and filled with chic, stylish, imported resort wear including a terrific selection of bathing suits
The hotel’s staff concierges can arrange tours and trips around the island. St. George’s , the capital with a busy market, is about 7kms (4.2 miles) from the hotel and just minutes above the city centre are a few forts overlooking the harbor and the bustling city. Visit Grand Etang Forest Reserve, Concord Waterfalls where you can swim at the base of the falls. Since this island has more spices per square mile than anywhere else on the planet, it’s a natural that there would be many working spice estates. Douglaston Estate the oldest spice plantation on The Spice Island and also Gouyave Nutmeg Processing Station are a must see. (Every week in Gouyave there’s Fish Friday where music blasts, as everyone gets into dancing mode and it seems like an eating carnival). Belmont Estate was originally a sugar refinery but with time and the decline in the demand, it now produces nutmeg and cocoa. It’s also the perfect place to plan to have lunch. All the ingredients are organic and usually from the agriculture on the property. Although not primarily a restaurant stop, the food can compare with the top eateries on the island. The renowned Grenada Chocolate Company, which sells to the top chocolate companies worldwide is located here and it’s an opportunity to taste and even buy the famous dark chocolate. It is so tasty that it’s difficult to leave without buying several types and it doesn’t melt. Certainly you can’t leave the island without visiting one of the three rum distilleries, one being River Antoine Rum Distillery where there is a really informative tour with a tasting at the end. Although not a rum lover, there is one out of the three offered, that is less than the 75% that they drink on the island but can’t export. Only 65% is permissible.
Breakfast table at Oliver’s
With a predilection for the best, Sir Royston went in search and found Chef Phillip Reid, who has worked around the world in some of the best restaurants. The chic open-sided Oliver’s, serves Creole specialties made with local produce along with choices of international favourites flavoured with local spices for which the island is known. I still salivate over the local soup made from Callaloo leaves, when served looks like spinach but is more tangy. And an aside, I love the fact that if you happen to be wearing a dark colour, the napkin is black and if you’re wearing lighter tones, then a white napkin is set on your lap. No lint problems here but thoughtful and useful ideas.
Spice Island takes being ‘Green’ very seriously and operates at the world’s highest environmental standards even receiving a Green Globe Certification Award. They include use of solar rooftop heaters for all hot water, tuning off air conditioners when rooms aren’t occupied, utilizing water from the sea through an on -property desalinization plant, purification of the main swimming pool and the private pools in the various villas with a salt water system using ionization technology instead of chlorine , water and electricity meter reading daily, reusing office paper for internal printing, using old kitchen towels as housekeeping rags, purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables grown locally and organically, use of energy efficient electrical appliances, water conservation devices and more.
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|Print article||This entry was posted by Barbara Kingstone on January 20, 2011 at 9:46 pm, and is filed under Hotel, The Caribbean. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|