Hideaway Report Editor
Soaking Up the Sun at Grenada's Blissful Beach Resorts
By Hideaway Report Editor
July 22, 2019
The word “Caribbean” evokes an idealized travel poster, complete with palm-shaded beaches and aquamarine seas dotted with gleaming-white yachts. Unfortunately, much of the Caribbean is still recovering from the devastating hurricanes of 2017: Irma and Maria. Many of our recommended resorts have since reopened. But others, such as the Rosewood Little Dix Bay and Eden Rock on St. Barths, are still undergoing repairs. And a few, like Peter Island Resort & Spa in the British Virgin Islands, may sadly never be rebuilt.
Some places in the Caribbean escaped the hurricanes unscathed, however. Grenada, in the far south of the region, sees fewer catastrophic storms. Lately, the island nation has become a focus of resort development, and not just because of its privileged location.
Grenada has the requisite palm-fringed beaches, as well as a dramatic interior of emerald mountains laced with hiking trails and waterfalls.
Grenada has the requisite palm-fringed beaches, as well as a dramatic interior of emerald mountains laced with hiking trails and waterfalls. Its colorful capital, St. George’s, has a picturesque location straddling a ridge, sloping down to a natural harbor. Small manufacturers make fine artisanal chocolate, rum and nutmeg-based products — Grenada calls itself the “Spice Island” — often on former plantations dating back a century or three. And enigmatic petroglyphs decorating boulders and rock faces around the island remain as a testament to Grenada’s deeper history. Perhaps most important, Grenada’s inhabitants welcome visitors with warmth, and the island feels safe.
During my research, I discovered four small properties that looked appealing. I eliminated Mount Cinnamon because of reports of major construction work adjacent to the hotel. That left Silversands, Spice Island Beach Resort and Calabash Luxury Boutique Hotel. The first two are set on Grenada’s largest and most popular beach, the Grand Anse, a two-mile-long curve of soft sand between the airport and St. George’s along the southwestern coast of the island.
Although Silversands and Spice Island face the same beach, the sections they occupy have their own personalities. People stroll past Silversands to access the Grand Anse — the beach is public, like all beaches on Grenada — but more people tend to install themselves in front of Spice Island. The hotels also have contrasting styles. Spice Island Beach Resort has traditional Caribbean/colonial décor, whereas Silversands is resolutely contemporary, with something of an Asian sensibility.
The latter’s up-to-the-minute character became evident before we even reached the hotel. After a representative whisked us through the airport’s immigration hall, she introduced us to our driver, who opened the falcon-wing doors of a Tesla Model X SUV. As we disembarked our futuristic transport, senior management greeted us cheerfully. Beyond the wide doorway leading into the airy lobby, a 330-foot infinity pool extended to the sea, the longest pool in the Caribbean, apparently. Such a dramatic entrance, enhanced by chilled towels and welcome drinks of coconut water and Prosecco, made for an extremely favorable first impression.
Rather than checking in at the front desk, we were escorted straight to our room. We had been upgraded from a second-floor Ocean View King to a Penthouse Level King, located on the third, and top, floor. This extra height makes a difference, because the resort’s two buildings, comprising 43 guest rooms, stand behind one-story villas. (Avoid Garden View King rooms, which lack water views and privacy.) “I really want you to download the app that controls the curtains, the lighting and the mosquito netting around the bed,” our escort told us, “because you can also use it to unlock the room or to order room service.” But I found it simpler to use the control panels by the bed and the room key, a black ring attached to a bracelet. “The key is almost indestructible,” our escort said. “It is impervious to water or radiation.” How reassuring!
The décor lacked the bright colors I associate with Caribbean style, but I didn’t miss them. Vertical wood slats added height to the room. A rectangle of faux blond-wood tile contained the bed, a wicker chair and a daybed, as well as a black-marble table. A sweep of glass doors led to the Caribbean-view terrace, furnished with another daybed. The spacious bath afforded similarly splendid views from its floor-to-ceiling window, against which was set an inviting soaking tub.
We headed straight for the pool, eschewing the many loungers in favor of one of the beds, hung with breezy white curtains. In spite of being in the direct line of sight of nine waitstaff in the empty bar and restaurant, it took about 20 minutes for anyone to come over to see if we might like a drink. Fortunately, this was the only time service stumbled during our stay. A frosty Writer’s Block cocktail of gin, guava and orange liqueur helped put me in a forgiving mood. I decided to do a few laps, but considering the extraordinary length of the pool, one round-trip felt like plenty of exercise for the afternoon.
The next day, in addition to a stroll on the beach, I worked up an appetite by taking out a clear plastic kayak from the water sports center on the beach. (All nonmotorized equipment is complimentary for guests.) It was great fun paddling along the beach, watching seagrass, sea urchins and the occasional lump of brain coral pass beneath. Otherwise, aside from a short excursion to some nearby gardens, we spent our time at Silversands in blissful indolence. When I tired of reclining by the pool or on the beach, I decamped to the tranquil and stylish spa, centerpieced by a heated lap pool surrounded by daybeds. The spa’s ice room felt delicious after a day spent outdoors, as did the refreshing “experiential shower.” I couldn’t muster any enthusiasm for the sauna, steam room or fitness room, though a private trainer would have been happy to help me work out.
On our first night, we dined at Asiatique, the resort’s Thai-Japanese restaurant. It had a soaring interior, with a striking swirl of wood ribbon hanging from the ceiling, but I always felt drawn to the patio, which overlooks the pool, tidy tropical gardens and a snippet of sea. I very much enjoyed my moist mahi-mahi grilled with lemongrass, Thai basil, pickled onion and tomato, all wrapped in a banana leaf. And breakfast on Asiatique’s terrace was an unfailing delight. Service was very attentive: A waitperson insisted on carrying our plates from the buffet back to our table, and we never had to pull our own chairs out in order to sit down.
Our meals at the informal Grenadian Grill were more mixed in quality. My lunch of slow-roasted pork belly with a rum-and-nutmeg demi-glace was delicious — rich and sweet but not too fatty. But at dinner, my salad of poached lobster, tabbouleh, watercress, pea shoots and grapefruit was underseasoned, and my pan-seared lionfish in a chocolate-Port wine sauce was a bit chewy. After dinner, a bartender took time to show us the Puro lounge, with its impressive selection of rum, whiskey and cognac, including a Hennessy at $6,000 per glass!
Considering the short time that Silversands has been operational — the resort opened in December — the staff works with impressive organization and efficiency. It didn’t take long for employees to greet us by name, and everyone was eminently friendly and helpful. If you prefer your resorts to have a more contemporary, internationally chic style, Silversands should be your choice in Grenada.
The chic contemporary décor; the warm and welcoming staff; the extraordinary swimming pool; our room’s memorable view; the tranquil and inviting spa; the clear-bottomed kayaks at the beach club; the location at a relatively quieter end of the Grand Anse.
The occasional culinary disappointments; the air-conditioning couldn’t get the room below 73 degrees.
Good to Know
There is a $20 fee for room service in addition to a 10% gratuity; Silversands’ complimentary transfer from the airport to the hotel includes access to a shorter immigration line.
Rates: Lowest Rate: Garden View King, $960; Editor’s Choice: Penthouse Level King, $1,200
Address: Grand Anse Main Road, St. George’s
Telephone: (833) 594-3230
Spice Island Beach Resort
If, on the other hand, you prefer somewhere that offers more of a sense of place, consider instead Spice Island Beach Resort. This 64-room hotel divides its accommodations among suites fronting the Grand Anse and, behind them, suites that compensate for their lack of views with private pools. (The viewless and poolless Oleander suites should be ignored.) We booked the former, a Seagrape Beach Suite, and had no regrets.
After management had welcomed us to the hotel, we were led to a building containing four suites. Inside, we discovered a space of white, beige and chocolate accented with splashes of turquoise and sea-foam green. The bedroom came with dark wood furnishings and a king bed with a bamboo headboard. An arch divided it from the living room, which had a small armchair and a daybed upholstered in synthetic fabric chosen for durability more than anything else. Glass doors led to a lovely patio, with two umbrella-shaded loungers and a hammock. Low tropical shrubs helped demarcate the patio from the beach.
All the contents of our suite’s amply stocked minibar were included in the rate, as were all meals and house beverages at the resort. Spice Island is “all-inclusive,” a phrase that sounds fine on safari but unsettling in the Caribbean or Mexico. I worried we might be in store for inebriated guests and unimpressive food. Fortunately, my fears were unfounded.
I was amazed to see an entirely different five-course dinner menu served each night in the colonial-style open-air restaurant. Each included two appetizer options, two soup selections, a salad or sorbet course, six main-course choices (including two vegetarian dishes) and five desserts. Favorite dishes included taro soup with garlic oil, pan-seared grouper with a passion fruit sauce and chard, and a “trio of wild apple” dessert of wax apple sorbet, supple apple mousse and apple bread pudding with caramel sauce. You can order wines by the bottle for an extra charge, but I kept to the by-the-glass list, which offered inexpensive but perfectly acceptable wines, including South African Pinot Grigio and a Chilean Merlot.
Service proved very attentive in the restaurant, and everywhere else in the hotel, for that matter. Little touches made a difference. For example, a bartender took our welcome drinks to our suite on a tray, since we had small bags with us. At the Sunday seafood barbecue, the waitstaff insisted on carrying our plates from the excellent buffet or grill station back to our table. The free-form main pool lacked a view, but bartenders ensured that guests lounging beside it were well-watered. And one afternoon, we reclined in loungers at the far end of the beach, with no expectation of service, but a waiter approached within minutes to offer us a drink, returning a little later with chilled towels. I left Spice Island Beach Resort with regret.
Spice Island Beach Resort 93
The Alexa device in our room; the direct access to the beach from our well-furnished patio; the unfailingly friendly and highly attentive staff; the surprisingly good and varied food selection; my excellent massage in the spa.
The free-form swimming pool lacked a view; at busier times, our room felt a little overexposed to people on the beach.
Good to Know
Saturday is a particularly busy day on the Grand Anse; transfers to and from the airport are not included in the rate, in contrast to Silversands and the Calabash hotel.
Rates: Lowest Rate: Oleander Gardenview Suite, $1,150. Editor’s Choice: Seagrape Beach Suite, $1,390. All meals and house beverages included.
Address: Grand Anse Beach, St. George’s
Telephone: (473) 444-4258
Calabash Luxury Boutique Hotel
After time on the popular Grand Anse, I was interested to try a resort on a different beach. The 30-room Calabash Luxury Boutique Hotel stands on a stretch of the Lance aux Epines, just south of the Grand Anse. Flanked by two mansion-dotted peninsulas, the bay in front of the beach is calm and serves as a yacht harbor. Because it is smaller and harder to access, the beach is much quieter than the Grand Anse.
Aside from a handful of hillside villas, accommodations occupy two-story buildings arrayed in a semicircle around a lawn, punctuated with palms, crotons and hibiscus hedges. Most rooms offer at least some sort of water view, but the sea is partially obscured by the Beach Club and trees. Nevertheless, our ground-floor Pool Suite proved very appealing in most respects. We could see the Caribbean from our front patio, and our living room had an attractive color scheme of white, navy and gray. Coral on the coffee table and framed black-and-white photos of sailboats added some sense of place. The bed came with an aqua-painted wicker headboard, and an attractive bath provided dual vessel sinks and a spacious walk-in shower. However, I preferred to shower outside on our back patio, which also had a small private pool and a freestanding tub on a wooden platform. One morning, a brief burst of rain came down as I rinsed off. Having a warm shower in a cool rainstorm is a sensation everyone should experience at least once.
Calabash’s Rhodes restaurant did not disappoint. Above the tables was a thick canopy of Thunbergia vines, from which dangled purple and white flowers. When candlelit at night, Rhodes was a sublime setting for dinner. I loved my pillowy gnocchi with lobster, turmeric and Parmesan, while my delectable mahi-mahi main course came topped with flavorful shrimp-ginger butter. I also appreciated the interesting wines by the glass, including a classy Chardonnay from Gascony. We also had a fine small-plate lunch at the Beach Club adjacent to the lounger-lined sand, dining on shrimp ravioli in rich shellfish bisque, and fritters of callaloo and feta. And the full breakfast, served each morning on our front patio at the time of our choosing, was invariably a pleasure.
I enjoyed most aspects of our stay at Calabash, but problematic details began to add up. For example, the afternoon tea, while admittedly complimentary, included just one choice of tea: Lipton. I couldn’t help but compare the unimpressive experience to the tea at Spice Island Beach Resort, where I had a pot of soursop leaf infusion and an extravagant selection of baked goods. We sent some clothes to be laundered the first afternoon of our stay, but two days later, they still had not been returned, finally appearing only a couple of hours before our departure. In our private pool, the tile needed some maintenance. And I was glad we reconfirmed the IAM Jet Centre expedited access at the airport that we’d we requested on our pre-arrival form, because the staff had failed to arrange it. Most important, many of the staff didn’t exhibit the consistent level of warm hospitality that we’d experienced at the other two resorts.
If the Calabash hotel were the only choice on Grenada, I would recommend it. It’s a beautiful property with an excellent restaurant. But Silversands and Spice Island Beach Resort set high standards, and they currently provide the best hospitality on one of the friendliest islands in the Caribbean.
Calabash Luxury Boutique Hotel 89
The infinity pool, set on a lounger-filled terrace overlooking the grounds; the sunny fitness center; the romantic restaurant and excellent cuisine; breakfasting on our patio each morning; the quiet beach; the friendly staff.
Having to chase down our laundry; the old tile in our suite’s pool; the occasionally perfunctory service.
Good to Know
The hotel attracts a largely British clientele; on Tuesdays, dinner at the Beach Club is preceded by a cocktail party hosted by management.
Rates: Lowest Rate: Junior Suite, $680; Editor’s Choice, $920
Address: Beach Lane, Lance aux Epines, St. George’s
Telephone: (473) 444-4334