Skinny dipping? Here? How is that possible? When one checks into the Spice Island Beach Resort in Grenada a staff member will show you to your room (ok, villa). Using a key, she opens the first of two doors and you’ll find yourself in a mini courtyard with a shimmering turquoise pool, a patio, a shaded sitting area, and steps leading up to your lodgings. Private, concealed, a Caribbean Secret Garden – and for the duration of the stay – all yours. In this sunny, clandestine enclave, with or sans suit, pool, dive right in!
Put Some Spice in your Life
Some islands, like people, luxuriate in their privacy. They lack no social graces and enjoy playing host to visitors but they’re also comfortable being left alone. This, in many ways, is Grenada and the island’s character results, in part, from being a land of plenty: fishing nets heavy with tuna, mackerel and grouper and volcanic soil so rich that crops seem to spring from the soil as if by magic. Grenada’s interior is lush and mountainous, waterfalls cascade into sparkling swim-holes and monkeys gorge on papaya and bananas. Spices? oh yes. The Island is chock-a-block with nutmeg, ginger, vanilla, saffron, cinnamon, clove and allspice growing wild on verdant hillsides. All this has resulted in Grenada remaining unchanged for centuries.
Because Grenada lies just below the southern edge of the hurricane belt, it had not experienced a major storm in more than half a century. Then, on September 7, 2004, all that changed. Hurricane Ivan touched down here with such strength and intensity that, within a day, thirty-seven people were dead and almost all of the country lay in shambles. Today, when one visits, there’s virtually nothing to suggest that Grenada is still struggling; in fact, it looks relatively unaffected – homes are once more intact, hotels are repaired and those towering twin palms that covered the island are still there – having bowed to the hurricane’s force, they survived.
And the Spice Island Beach Resort? Seventy-five percent of it was destroyed. However, Sir Royston O. Hopkin, the resort’s owner, was undaunted. He embarked on a most ambitious project – to oversee the rebirth of his property and make this once outstanding hideaway even more splendid than before. Paradise re-found. The US $12 million dollar rebuilding project opened again in 2005 with accommodations consisting of 64 luxury suites and 34 beachfront units. Janissa’s Spa and Fitness Center has a new 5,600 square foot home and there’s the Nutmeg Pod, an activity center for kids. Conde Nast named the resort the best in the Caribbean and it is considered one of the supreme honeymoon resorts in the world. Not to put too fine a point on it, Sir Royston himself has received numerous awards including his first accolade (CMG) from Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, and more recently the knighthood (KCMG) in 2005. Never content to rest on his laurels, this fall will see, once more, a grand refurbishment of the resort’s rooms and public spaces. Sir Royston explains his mission: “…to meld poetry and modernity into a resort that perfectly blends into its environment whilst offering all the luxuries of one of the world’s finest resorts.” The man has succeeded royally!
Grenada is a superior Caribbean islands for snorkeling - and one particular reason sets it apart from all others: The Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park. This is a collection of contemporary art created by British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor. It opened in 2006, the very first of its kind in the world. The artist’s aim was to engage local people with the underwater environment that surrounds them using his works which are derived from life casts of the local community. He installed his cement figures onto the ocean floor, mainly consisting of human forms, from solitary individuals to a ring of children holding hands, facing into the oceanic currents. Needless to say, viewing this sculpture whilst snorkeling is one of the highlights of your visit. Aquanauts is the dive company that makes this adventure possible with knowledgeable, caring instructors that love explaining the ocean’s fragile ecosystem.an y, an
Rain, Rain, Don’t Go Away
A visit to the Grand Etang Lake and Forest Reserve was spectacular. This is a popular area in Grenada for hiking and trekking in the rainforest high up in the mountains of the island's interior. Consisting of elfin woodlands on the slopes of the reserve's central mountains, the focal point is Grand Etang Lake, which fills the crater of one of the island's extinct volcanoes. You’ll wander around Concord Waterfall as it cascades into the azure pools below. The landscape is lush, luxuriant and fertile, so considering that the almost daily deluge which lasts just a short time is largely responsible for this jungley beauty, guaranteed, you’ll now think of these showers with an open and welcoming heart.
For the Birds
A hop, skip and a jump across the road from the Spice Island Resort is the Blue Horizons Garden Resort owned by Arnold Hopkin, Sir Royston’s brother, who manages his property with equal skilled stewardship. This is a family-friendly resort providing free babysitting and a very compelling attraction: kids eat free! This is a Green Globe benchmarked property that has an aviary for tropical birds including the Violet-Eared Dove, Grenada’s national bird. This tiny creature was almost brought to extinction during the ravages of the 2004 hurricane but thanks to a protection program that the resort has in place, it’s making a comeback.
It’s not well-known but each and every Friday, Grenada hosts a traditional fish fry in the small town of Gouyave (Fish Town). There are row upon row of vendors offering all sorts of fish delights – a dream for seafood lovers. This is a great way to get familiar with the island’s food – and to meet the locals.
Grenada is a land of plenty and its very self-sufficiency has kept it largely untouched, hurricanes or no. Its endless views of the sea, the lone fisherman walking along, swinging his catch, the smell of chicken sizzling on barbecues – it’s all still here. Residents say that Grenada is Caribbean’s best kept secret. Perhaps that explains why this island’s unchanged melody continues.
In NYC, there’s Grenada Tourist Information at 317 Madison Avenue; Tel: 212 687 9554 or 800 927 9554 and email @ email@example.com.
If You Go:
Spice Island Beach Resort
Grenada Tourist Board