The Mail follows in Prince Harry’s footsteps with a stay at a breathtaking resort on the isle of Grenada that the royal stayed at pre-Megxit. And our room? The ‘Ginger Suite’, of course…
- Ian Walker checked into the Spice Island Beach Resort on Grand Anse Beach
- He says the staff have ‘an openness and genuine warmth that is hard to fake’
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Grenada is a small island that packs a big punch, in part thanks to knock-out places to stay such as the Spice Island Beach Resort.
This luxury award-winning all-inclusive hotel has pole position on the pale cream sand at the quieter southern side of the world-famous Grand Anse Beach.
Family owned and family run, it features a total of 64 suites – some with private pools, and some beachside – and a charming low-rise whitewashed central building with two beach-view restaurants, boutiques, a showpiece marble-topped bar and immaculate eight-acre grounds.
It has one of those understated entrances through a pretty courtyard that leads up to a jaw-dropping view of the azure ocean.
After an 11-hour flight, my wife and I were delighted to sink into a soft cream sofa by reception and just stare – the genuine warm welcome, cool towels, signature cocktail of sorrel with chilled sparkling wine and efficient staff combined to make it the most relaxing hotel check-in I have had in years.
Ian Walker checked into the Spice Island Beach Resort, set on the southern side of the world-famous Grand Anse Beach in Grenada
We were escorted past what was to become our favourite late lunchtime spot at the informal Sea and Surf Terrace restaurant, with a very cool bar on one side and a stunning beach view on the other. At the end of the bar was the main hotel pool, with a swim-up whirlpool, and a few metres further was the entrance to our Royal Ginger suite.
A snapshot of Prince Harry grinning while pointing at the nameplate on a visit in 2016, pre-Megxit, featured in his recent Netflix documentary. He actually stayed in a different suite, but this one proved more than grand enough for us. A door in the white-washed wall opened out onto a patio, plunge pool, terrace and amazingly a cedarwood sauna cabin.
Grenada gained its ‘Spice Island’ moniker due to its nutmeg industry. It is the world’s second-largest exporter of nutmeg, behind Indonesia, and also grows cloves, cinnamon, citrus fruits, bananas and cocoa. There is a long tradition of rum production on the island dating back to the 1700s and there are still three distilleries on the island, a fact we were reminded of when we entered the suite.
The sitting room’s mini bar included miniatures of every type of rum imaginable – rum with sorrel, (made from the red sepals of Hibiscus plants), mojito rum, passion fruit rum, white rum, dark rum, plus full-size bottles.
Prince Harry – pictured on Grand Anse Beach – stayed at Spice Island Beach Resort in 2016, Ian reveals
‘Spice Island Beach Resort has one of those understated entrances through a pretty courtyard that leads up to a jaw-dropping view of the azure ocean,’ writes Ian
Some Grenadian rum is over 70 per cent alcohol, but nothing quite that powerful was in our room. However, a rum punch we tried as a sundowner was so strong it left us speechless. The waitress found it hilarious and told us there was a regular group of visitors who liked to have a few rounds of them at 11am!
Room facilities included a flat-screen TV, coffee machine, tea-making facilities, a toaster, an Alexa device – my wife ensured her playlist was on constant repeat – and a mobile phone pre-programmed with the hotel number for guests to make local calls while on the island.
The bedroom had an even larger flat-screen TV, a superbly comfortable, hardwood, king-size bed and a beautiful marble bathroom – with two basins, a large bathtub/shower and a dressing area – containing every conceivable Molton Brown amenity.
The level of care and attention to detail we received in the first 20 minutes of our arrival proved to be far from a one-off. When we emerged after the excitement of trying the bath, sauna and plunge pool, the staff greeted us by name and had an openness and genuine warmth that is hard to fake. It was the small kindnesses and the manner of service that set this place apart and is no doubt the reason it wins a clutch of industry awards every year and is a firm Tripadvisor favourite.
We mentioned to a waiter who brought daily hors d’oeuvres before dinner that we drank tea and coffee with milk and every day a fresh jug of milk was delivered. Breakfast cappuccinos were poured into compostable paper cups for us to take onto the beach and a cheery waitress realised what table we liked for late lunches on the terrace and always had it ready for us.
In the evening, Oliver’s restaurant served ambitious five-course dinners with spicy plantain or chilled mango soup, fresh fish, white wine sorbet palate cleansers and an exquisite Grenadian chocolate tart. But you could also go off-menu and request something less fancy. There was a dress code for dinner, elegant for ladies, long trousers for men, no under fives and definitely no bare feet in either restaurant, although the vibe was always very relaxed.
The resort features a total of 64 suites, some with private pools and some beachside
Breakfast was a lavish buffet and an a la carte menu, and as with dinner featured lots of local produce, often from the hotel’s own well-tended kitchen garden.
This feasting made my wife determined to try the 7am pre-breakfast yoga sessions on the stunning beach pavilion, worth a visit just for the views. She returned full of vim and vigour, while I had a more relaxing time working out the coffee machine.
Other activities on offer include tennis and cycling, while green fees are included at the nine-hole Grenada Golf Club. And the Nutmeg Pod kids club offers frazzled parents a break.
There is also the lure of the Janissa Spa, a graceful and calming oasis where we indulged in a ‘signature massage’ courtesy of Rosetta and Rosa, who were masters of their craft. The stylish Gatsby Boutique, meanwhile, offers a fine collection of resort wear and despite the resort’s beachside location, just five minutes’ stroll away is the island’s biggest shopping mall.
President and Managing Director of Spice Island Beach Resort, Janelle Hopkin, credits much of the hotel’s success to the vision of her late father, legendary Caribbean hotelier Sir Royston Hopkin.
He created a luxury beachside hotel in the perfect location.
In 1969, Sir Royston and a group of investors bought the 20-room Spice Island Inn. They renovated and expanded and in 1989 Sir Royston bought the property outright and began its transformation into the stunning beach resort he always envisaged.
Pictured above is the Ginger Suite that Ian and his wife stayed in
The Ginger Suite (above) features a patio, plunge pool, terrace and a cedarwood sauna cabin
Ms Hopkin took the helm after her father died during the pandemic in 2020 and admits it was a rough journey. The hotel had to close and staff were laid off. There were even offers to buy the hotel, but she explains she never considered selling because the business is in her blood.
While they were closed she took the bold decision to embark on a multi-million-dollar renovation project resulting in 34 stunning ocean view suites with blonde wood, cream and aqua interiors, flexible sleeping arrangements, large showers and beachside patios and hammocks. She greets staff by name and continually pays tribute to their contribution in maintaining the resort’s high standards.
Having just completed her first full year with the hotel open, the impressive Ms Hopkin is optimistic for the future, commenting that ‘2022 was our first full year of operation after what seemed like an eternity’.
She added: ‘I believe 2023 will present more opportunities for growth for us and everyone else.’
There was certainly a buzz to the island when we were there in December, with a busy airport and cruise ships regularly docking in the harbour.
Most visitors only see the beachside hotels, shops and restaurants, but as we discovered, it is worth making time to see a side of the island that rarely makes the holiday brochures.
At just 21 miles (34km) long and with a population of around 100,000, Grenada has lush rainforests, dramatic waterfalls and fertile soil.
We were able to see the dramatic landscape first-hand on a half-day tour with professional guide Mandoo, a man with such an infinite knowledge of the island that he must be older than he looks.
He guides his white minibus expertly through the narrow streets where market vendors and tourists in the capital, St George’s, throng the winding lanes of brightly painted houses and then takes us up into the rainforest regions towards the dramatic Concord Falls.
The main waterfall plummets 65ft (20m) into a pool below where you can take a refreshing dip. And local men often jump from the falls for a small tip from tourists.
Ian’s tour of the island includes a drive through the winding streets of the capital, St. George’s (above)
Abercrombie & Kent (www.abercrombiekent.co.uk; 03301 734 712) offers a seven-night stay at Spice Island Beach Resort from £4,999pp based on two people sharing an Anthurium Pool Suite. The offer includes international flights, private transfers and accommodation on an all-inclusive basis (www.spiceislandbeachresort.com).
The surrounding area is typical of the lush island interior.
Small farms are dotted all over the steep hillsides on land seemingly impossible to work, but somehow the rows of fruit and spice trees grow and are harvested.
We stop at regular intervals while Mandoo breaks off a bunch of tiny sweet bananas here, a nutmeg there and several times points out farmers’ signs issuing dire warnings of dismemberment and worse to folks who pick their fruit!
‘It’s fine,’ smiles Mandoo. ‘I have their permission.’
Hurricane Ivan in 2004, followed by Hurricane Emily the following year, decimated crops and infrastructure. There are still roads waiting to be rebuilt, and there are areas of poverty, but the resilience of the farmers is humbling and the islanders’ natural optimism and determination has seen the slow recovery of nutmeg production.
Next stop is the Grand Etang National Park, established in 1992 and consisting of over 3,800 acres, it includes the Grand Etang Forest Reserve, which was created in 1906.
The park’s name is French for ‘large lake’ and refers to the beautiful 20ft (6m) deep, 36-acre lake formed in the crater of an extinct volcano that lies at the heart of the national park.
The summits of Mount Qua Qua, Mount Granby and Morne Fédon can be found here along with waterfalls, hiking trails and many more unusual species of flora and fauna. There is a small charge to enter the quaint visitor centre, which has a great veranda for viewing the mesmerising sapphire waters of the lake.
We drove back via the picturesque St George’s Harbour to the welcome embrace of the resort, but grateful to have seen the hidden beauty of the island and shared in Mandoos pride and hopes for its future.
A small souvenir basket of Grenada’s finest spices is given to every departing Spice Island Resort guest. I view the contents of mine with renewed respect and appreciation.
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