Spice Island perfection in Grenada
On a to-visit list longer than my iPhone screen – it’s saved in iPhone notes, so I can verify its length – Grenada doesn’t appear at all. But even unmade plans are made to be broken.
We ended up on the island due to the simple fact it was the only place our air miles would take us on dates that fitted around work commitments and a can’t-wait-any-longer-for-sun, self-imposed deadline.
And it was bliss.
When Europeans think about the Caribbean, they usually think St Lucia, Barbados and the Bahamas. Grenada isn’t exactly undiscovered, but it’s not top of the list. The result means a little less glitz than the other islands, and a whole heap more authenticity.
You’re not off the beaten track here. The daily cruise ships coming into the capital St Georges see to that – but it lacks the commercial perfection of a St Lucia or Bahamas – and is so much the better for it.
From the UK, you have to fly via St Lucia, which means staying put on the plane while, in our case, most of the plane unloads, and then it’s a quick hop-skip over to Grenada. Get the day flight out and that’s no problem. On the overnight flight back it’s not quite so much fun.
As we left the airport, scrambling around for seat belts in the back of the car, our driver laughed and promised he wouldn’t be going fast enough for us to need seat belts. He lied. We hared through the little market towns on our way to the north of the island, Grenada’s distinctive red, yellow and green flags fluttering in our wake, along with children, chickens and the waves that lap against the island’s ‘main’ western road.
And then we arrived at our hotel and discovered I’d booked it for April not February.
Still, a room was found, and for three days we holed up at Petite Anse where the rooms aren’t anything to write home about but the blustery windswept beach, brilliant sunshine and amazing, crazy hosts, more than compensated.
And then we went south, down to Spice Island Beach Resort. The world’s most perfect holiday destination. And I promise, I don’t state that lightly.
Here is a world of fabulous, organic and, more importantly, locally grown produce; of everyone member of staff knowing your name and, more importantly, what you like (yes, I would love another sorrel champagne cocktail, please!); of hot games of tennis in the afternoon and, more importantly, someone bringing you towels and chilled water when you lose another set; and interior-designed rooms spilling out onto the sandy beach, where, most importantly, it never seems to rain.
Do I sound like a Spice Island groupie? I’m seeking help, I promise.
The trip wasn’t all about lazing around in the sun. There is plenty of history on Grenada. The long abandoned airport – discarded for a newer, longer runway elsewhere in the island – is now used for drag racing, but its past isn’t forgotten, with two rusting planes, one with a faded ‘cubanair’ logo still just distinguishable, and cows and goats grazing in its shadow.
There are rum distilleries to visit. And they’re not Disneyland distilleries either – we picked our way round one, pink-cheeked from the furnaces and high as kites thanks to the fumes in the air. The rum they produced there so potent it can’t be exported, we didn’t even bother with a tasting, although the water wheel made for great Instagram photos.
But what you’re really there for is the beach. It’s the Caribbean, so no prizes for white sand, palm trees and crystal clear blue water, but Grande Anse – the island’s most beautiful beach and the location for Spice Island Beach Resort – was genuinely beautiful. The waves, if you could call them that, barely clocked 4cm high, and the peppering of plants and trees on the shore made it almost better than the private pools next to the villas. Except, I’ve never had a private pool next to a villa, and the novelty of jumping in, cooling down, jumping out, raiding the minibar, lying down, heating up, and repeating until the sun went down, didn’t really tire.
Here’s a confession. We left Spice Island after a couple of nights to try one of the other hotels on the island… and checked back in again less than 24 hours later. It wasn’t that the other hotel wasn’t great. It was. It just wasn’t Spice Island.