Avoid the crowds at these first-class, tropical hotels in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
The 32 islands and cays that make up Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are almost too good to be true. These naturally beautiful isles offer coral halos, white sands, some of the best snorkeling and diving in the Caribbean, and a warm culture that embraces visitors. It is, nonetheless, free from excessive tourism – but with hotels for every budget, we recommend paying a visit.
This resort has a private jet. Let that sink in. Canouan – the thatched airport of which is a 30-40-minute hop from Barbados – has fast become a destination for the wealthy in recent years, with much of the island now belonging to some of the world’s biggest luxury hotel brands. As is fitting of the all-suite, all-villa Mandarin Oriental brand, a personal butler is yours upon arrival. There’s a championship golf course, tennis courts, of course a spa, and staff with an uncanny ability to pre-empt cocktail orders and needs you didn’t even know you had. Take a short boat ride to Tobago Cays where, protected by Marine Park, turtles thrive. But whatever you do, don’t rush. The hummingbirds darting from flower to tree are the fastest moving things around here.
Sugar Reef has a checklist to see if it, and the island of Bequia, are for you. It’s a no, if you like direct flights, guests-only nightlife, duty-free shopping and full air conditioning. But it’s yes if you enjoy taxi rides in the back of a converted pick-up truck, dancing with locals and barefoot yachties, hiking volcanoes, a break from commercialism and, very specifically, the Caribbean episode of Animal Planet. There are just eight guest rooms on the 65-acre (26ha) estate that fronts a quarter-mile-long beach protected by a reef. Individually designed stone-built rooms with cathedral ceilings have British Caribbean antique furniture, each with a four-poster bed. Hike through 600 acres (243ha) of virgin forest, and you may just get a bay all to yourself.
Ease into the relaxed vibe by the water in Port Elizabeth, and grab some shade, if you can, under the almond tree that yawns above the tables at the cafe. Why Gingerbread? The name refers to the wonderfully ornate Caribbean style of architecture where fretted woodwork, hung from steeply pitched roofs and verandas, resembles spun lace. Each of the six self-contained suites look onto Admiralty Bay, which is often so full of sailing yachts, they look like seagulls bobbing on the water.
Explore the island chain by boat, and sail into the hotel’s marina, to be greeted by the dock master with a rum punch. Skippered day charters to Bequia are available, or use the hotel as the starting point to sail the Grenadines in full. While you’re on land, make use of two clothing boutiques, beach bar, dive shops, pool, bakery, restaurant and bar, water sports rental and supermarket. The rooms in bright shades of pink and blue are spacious. If you want to cook for yourself, make sure to book one of the rooms with its own kitchenette.
Get away from it all, when you’ve got away from it all. This new hotel is in a lesser-developed part of Bequia. The location combined with its poised contemporary design – earth tones, natural fibre, white, splashes of aqua – add to the sense of quiet. There are only 11 villas or suites, which all have their own freshwater infinity pool or hot tub with sea views; the most impressive of which is Gingerlily, which has five ensuite bedrooms. Finish the day on the jetty, home to the hotel’s dining room and a larger shared pool, and enjoy the view towards Mustique and Saint Vincent, or the occasional yacht taking shelter in the bay.
Fronting Friendship Beach, if you’re looking for a waterfront villa but with the services of a hotel – laundry, housekeeping, a concierge who can organize a car, driver or captained boat – you may have found it. Spread across four buildings, there are nine bedrooms that sleep up to 18 people, which can be booked as a whole or individually. Relax in the two acres (0.8ha) of gardens, under the gazebo, upon the hammocks or on the yoga deck.
The sound of the sea always adds a dimension of focus and Zen to a yoga session. A platform behind the beach, beneath the palms and among the seagrapes, is the venue for free classes three times a week, so there’s no excuse not to unwind and workout while on Bequia. The island itself is a place for taking things slow; you’ll have no choice, that’s the vibe here. Apart from when Jack’s Beach Bar puts on live music, then the locals come too for a dance. The style of the hotel is somewhere between vintage LA and traditional Caribbean, with ice-cream-hued beach huts by the pool and jolly beach umbrellas. With seafood caught just a few steps from your table, you should get the lobster roll.
This gingerbread mansion built in 1765 was originally known as the Great House, and was home to the British Administrator. Today, it’s one of the most straightforward hotels in Saint Vincent. Located in a residential part of Kingstown, it still has a grand ambience with its broad verandas, high ceilings and hilltop spot, overlooking the colorful buildings of town and tends to attract a business crowd. There is a gym, spa, restaurant and a large pool. If you don’t need the beach, activities or the trappings of a resort, then it’s a good option.
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