A seamless journey to paradise
How do you like the sound of white powdered beaches, personalised luxury service, amazing food and a secluded Caribbean island surrounded by amazing marine life? I was lucky enough to experience all of this and more on my recent trip to Canouan, a tiny sought-after island (measuring just five-square-miles!) that is part of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Located on the Atlantic coast, the island enjoys a breeze, meaning I never felt too hot during my time here. Ultra-exclusive and elegant, the gorgeous Mandarin Oriental, Canouan is the only hotel on the island, joined by several privately-owned villas, restaurants and an amazing golf course.
Don’t let this remoteness and exclusivity fool you though, Canouan is super easy to get to! After a flight straight from Manchester to Barbados, we were met at the airport and whisked away from the crowds (BGI is a very busy airport!) for our flight to Canouan. Mandarin Oriental have a friendly representative based at the airport, so the transfer was seamless, and we were soon in the air and on our way over to paradise to begin our adventure. We were in a group of eight (including my colleague Jackie and other industry specialists) so we couldn’t make use of the hotel’s very own six-seater private jet, though this is a great option if you wanted to arrive in style!
Touching down in around half an hour, we were met with a wonderfully warm Caribbean welcome – and a refreshing fruit punch too. Every room includes the friendly services of a private butler and mine was the lovely Kristal, who showed me to my suite. Well, I say suite, it was more like my very own house… truly huge! Kristal was amazing throughout the entire stay, as was the whole team of staff here. Honestly, I experienced some of the best service I’ve ever had. As well as my suite, the whole hotel had the ‘wow-factor’. Perfectly polished marble runs throughout the whole place, as well as the bright pink colour that the hotel has become renowned for. Although it was glamorous and gorgeous, it never once felt stuffy or uncomfortable and perfectly balanced island relaxation with Mandarin Oriental luxury.
Incredible island dining
For me, the food is a huge part of any trip I take, and I can confirm that everything I was served at the Mandarin Oriental, Canouan completely blew me away every time, in both how tasty and wonderfully fresh it was. On the first evening, we dined in a la carte restaurant Tides, where I enjoyed sensational beef tartare to start, followed by a hot seafood platter. Heaven. I didn’t go for a dessert that evening but only because I knew there were freshly baked scones waiting for me in my room – certainly more exciting than a welcome fruit platter and simply delicious. During our stay, I also tried out tasty ceviche and the signature pineapple crush cocktail at the Pool Bar Grill, as well as a private group dinner in a shiny new four-bedroom Patio Villa one evening. This was a great alternative to dinner at a restaurant and offered a wonderfully laid-back and personalised experience… with more great food, of course!
As well as five restaurants and bars that are part of the Mandarin Oriental, the wider Canouan Estate is home to four more which can be easily reached by golf buggy. Built by the hotel owner, we visited one named L’Ance Guyac Beach Club, a gorgeous and relaxed spot – you guessed it – on the beachfront where you literally dine with your toes in the sand. Here, I had scallops and mahi mahi that, once more, were delicious.
Exploring captivating Canouan
Although it’s only little, there is plenty to do on Canouan – from a great children’s club (my little boy would have loved it!) to the only 18-hole championship golf course in The Grenadines... where we enjoyed lovely sundowner cocktails and canapes overlooking the 13th hole. One morning, we set off at 7am with our friendly guide on a hike up Mount Royal, the highest peak on the island at 240-metres tall. It was quite strenuous, but the views were seriously incredible, and we could see 360-degrees over the islands of the Grenadines – including Mustique, Union Island and more. It’s safe to say, that day, I certainly worked up an appetite for my delicious smashed avocado on sourdough toast for breakfast.
Just being on the island allowed me to relax and unwind, but nothing compared to the serenity I felt when I was treated to a signature massage at the spa. I was shown to my individual spa suite (nestled in the hillside) which was Asian in style with dark wood and gorgeous sea views. Here, I enjoyed, sincerely, one of the best massages I’ve ever had, backed by sounds of the waves… incredible!
Another day, we were treated to a private catamaran trip towards the Tobago Cays, an archipelago of five teeny islands surrounded by coral reefs. The boat ride takes around an hour but, sipping on chilled champagne while enjoying views I’ve only ever seen on a postcard, I could have stayed there all day. The water is ridiculously clean and clear, making snorkelling here some of the best in the world. To top off an amazing experience, a group of turtles started swimming alongside us!!
All that snorkelling made us hungry, so we were delighted to see our super cute Mandarin Oriental lunchboxes, wrapped in ribbons of the hotel’s signature pink. It felt like I was being handed a present (well, I suppose I was). Prepared by the resort chefs, we enjoyed a delicious gourmet picnic lunch from the comfort of our luxury boat, looking out over the turquoise waters… the perfect end to the perfect day in paradise.
If you want to experience the true magic of Mandarin Oriental, Canouan, give a Luxury Travel Specialist a call today!