DREAMSCAPES SPRING 2019
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CARIBBEAN BEAUTIES
 
(2019 - Winter/Spring Issue)

Writer: JULIE REKAI RICKERD



Although I have visited most of the Caribbean islands, I somehow missed St. Vincent and the Grenadines.  

I therefore grabbed the opportunity to take a trip to tour St. Vincent and five of the 32 Grenadine islands and cays to explore their ultra-luxurious resorts.

YOUNG ISLAND

My first stop was at the Young Island Resort, a two-minute private ferry ride from St. Vincent. My personal cottage, one of 29 set on five hectares of lush, tropical vegetation, hills and beaches, was well worth the 100-step climb to the luxurious sitting room, bedroom and private plunge pool.

Breakfast selections consisted of fresh juices, which included passion fruit and soursop; plain, ginger- and cinnamon-flavoured yogurt; an assortment of the resort’s famous breads (coconut, banana, cinnamon, raisin, multigrain and white); fried jackfish; and “bakes” or savoury doughnut balls.

Later, I hiked to the top of the island that overlooked Fort Duvernette, built by the British in the 1790s as protection against their enemies. Accessible by kayak and a steep set of steps, the summit offered superb views of St. Vincent and some of the Grenadines. Thick tropical vegetation covers the island and much larger versions of many household plants we grow in flowerpots back home flourished naturally everywhere. Overhead, butterflies and birds flew about while agouti, large hamster-like creatures, scurried to their underground homes.

ST. VINCENT

The island of St. Vincent was originally inhabited by Carib Indians until Europeans arrived following Columbus’s discovery of the Caribbean in 1492. French and, eventually, the British governed St. Vincent and the Grenadines until they declared independence in 1979.  

The British parliamentary system was retained with two political parties and elections are held every five years. Political stability is the norm, confirmed by the fact that the same prime minister has been in power for 17 years and the nation’s diverse communities live in harmony. Since everyone gets along, the island is often referred to as “the land of no strangers.” The economy relies primarily on agriculture: bananas, pineapples, avocados, mangos and breadfruit. The first breadfruit tree is said to have been planted on the island in 1793 by Captain Bligh of Mutiny on the Bounty fame. Yams and cassava grow wild. Sea salt, often flavoured with rum, is another popular product.

Colourful pastel houses scattered throug-hout the hills and along the shore in small fishing villages accommodate St. Vincent’s population of 110,000. After a tour of the 18th-century Parliament, Supreme Court and Administration Buildings and the 19th-century Central Police Station in Kingstown, I was driven to Dark View Falls, rare multi-layered twin waterfalls. I then stopped at Wallilabou Bay where Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean series was filmed, a perfect venue for the 17th-century adventures.

BEQUIA

The next morning, I left on the Bequia Express Ferry for an hour-long trip to Bequia Island, the largest of the Grenadines. Its history of boatbuilding, whaling and fishing is prevalent to this day although, today, whaling means watching, not harpooning. The 100-year-old Friendship Rose still operates as a charter.

My stay at the Bequia Beach Hotel was a journey back to the elegance of the past. Its panelled library was reminiscent of renowned designer Oliver Messel’s colonial Caribbean architectural designs. Messel created many villas on Mustique, Princess Margaret’s favourite playground.

My oceanview suite featured a large balcony, a living area, an enormous four-poster bed complete with mosquito netting, and every amenity imaginable, including two umbrellas. The resort pool was a perfect size and the restaurant had exquisite views of the beach and the hotel’s 35-metre super-yacht, which is available for three-day all-inclusive cruises among the Grenadines for up to 12 guests. A superb red snapper dinner capped a perfect day of relaxation.

PETIT ST. VINCENT

I boarded the Spirit of the Sea powerboat for Petit St. Vincent making an incredible stop at the Tobago Cays Marine Park en route. It’s a protected wildlife reserve teeming with giant starfish and hundreds of rescued turtles being nursed back to health by the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary. Swimming among these creatures was an unforgettable experience.

I arrived at Petit St. Vincent Resort just in time for a late lunch consisting of the best tuna ceviche and virgin piña colada I have ever tasted. The all-inclusive resort has one-bedroom cottages and two-bedroom villas of blue bitch stone scattered on 46 hectares of tropical paradise. My hillside cottage had a huge patio with lounge chairs and a console with a fully stocked fridge and a cookie jar that was always full. Outdoor flags indicated my wish for privacy (red) or room service (yellow).

Although there was no television or Wi-Fi anywhere except in the reception office, there was never a dull moment. I walked the beaches, swam, took a yoga class, attended classes at Jean-Michel Cousteau’s diving school and indulged in a heavenly massage at the Balinese-run spa. A highlight of the gargantuan weekly beach barbeque was corn-on-the-cob boiled in coconut-cream-infused water.

PALM ISLAND

Palm Island’s launch picked me up and took me to my next stunning 55-hectare all-inclusive resort. Geared to adults and children, 12 and up, off-season and 16 and up at other times, the resort boasts 41 rooms and two luxury beach villas. Facilities include a satellite TV lounge, a library and a large freshwater pool.

Following a magnificent lunch highlighted by incredible tuna sashimi and virgin mojitos, I rode my complimentary bicycle around the island, cycling past the beachfront spa that faces one of the resort’s five spectacular white-sand beaches and a turtle pen protecting young turtles from their predators until they mature enough to roam the island. Above, dozens of species of exotic birds flew about.

CANOUAN

A very short flight on SVG Air brought me to Canouan to experience the exquisite Canouan Estate and Mandarin Oriental Canouan hotel. This spectacular 485-hectare island boasts an 18-hole Jim Fazio-designed golf course where I attended a 150-metre-high cocktail reception at the 13th hole. Its incredible Kids’ Club organizes brilliant programs and has equipment for children, ages three to 12, and teenagers. 

The hotel features every luxurious high- and low-tech amenity imaginable and its staff members are superbly trained to fulfill every possible desire. The vast beach is protected from rough waters by a 1.6-kilometre barrier reef, which allowed me to swim to one of the hotel’s glass-bottomed spa treatment huts. Meals were superb, complemented by a most impressive wine cellar.

Nearby Glossy Bay Marina featured 120 berths, 24 of them for superyachts. It will eventually include a botanical garden, over 6,500 square metres of retail space and apartments, a bar, a restaurant and a yacht club.

Every one of the five islands I visited is exquisite and unique and I will return whenever possible.

Travel Planner

Sunwing Airlines (sunwing.ca) offers weekly non-stop service from Toronto to St. Vincent during the summer months while Air Canada (aircanada.com) operates non-stop service year-round between Toronto and St. Vincent. It is illegal to wear camouflage clothing anywhere on the islands.

For more information on St. Vincent and the Grenadines, visit:

SVG Tourism Authority: discoversvg.com

Bequia Beach Hotel: bequiabeach.com

Fantasea Tours: fantaseatours.com

Mandarin Oriental, Canouan: mandarinoriental.com

Palm Island: palmislandresortgrenadines.com

Petit St. Vincent: petitstvincent.com

Young Island: youngisland.com

 
 
 
 
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