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Grenadines Barefoot Luxury

Stylish Small Island Escapes

By Hal Peat

Each distinct in character, possessing their own landscape, history and points of both human and natural interest, the Grenadine islands offer both a fine range of guest accommodation and local experience. If it's solitude or seclusion near a rainforest or on a hillside that you dream of, you can have that here. If it's an urban location with lots of choice to shop or enjoy dining and entertainment, or a beachside access with available water sport, then you can also find that here too. Local proprietors take a huge interest in their guests' comfort, and that's reflected in both the attention to detail around their property and the personal attention to each guest. Among those that excel in these aspects on each island, consider any of the following around the Grenadines.

Bequia Island

Its name derives from a Carib Indian word meaning "Island of the Clouds", and nowadays Bequia's strong seafaring tradition shows up in its continued popularity with the yachting crowd. Thanks to an equally fine choice of entertainment, dining and shopping, little Bequia has also become a major draw for other travelers exploring the Grenadines chain. Add to that its natural assets of beaches and wonderful small harbors, and Bequia is really on anyone's list for possible idyllic getaways.

Firefly Hotel Bequia comes with all the small size charm of an historic small inn property set in hillside overlooking the beach at Spring Bay. Its recently renovated rooms are in three buildings, and some have a private courtyard and swimming pool. The onsite Great House restaurant is an island fine dining favorite.

Gingerbread Hotel has just nine rooms and is more like staying in a private period-style Caribbean greathouse with its namesake gingerbread exterior woodwork trimmings. Some suites feature four-poster beds, their own kitchen, and an outside terrace overlooking Admiralty Bay. The hotel arranges nearby activities and excursions.

Bequia Beach Hotel & Villas is the recent merging of two oceanfront properties along Friendship Bay that were brought together by current proprietor Bengt Morstedt, whose creative planning for the reinvented resort includes a three-story boutique hotel and adjacent building housing guest rooms in contemporary Caribbean chic style, some with private plunge pools, an outdoor swimming pool, a casual cafe and Med-cuisine restaurant, a gym and spa, tennis court, and a beach with a grill and water sports.

Canouan Island

It's both an interesting mid-way point along the Grenadines chain for any continuing traveler to pause and explore, but a first-class destination itself for its breathtaking scenery and two noteworthy luxury properties. The principal settlement of Charlestown retains a sleepy small town flavor, while the coast has wonderful sites for adventure at Windward Bay, a reef-protected lagoon with excellent snorkelling, along with superb beaches at Maho Bay in the north and Friendship Bay in the south.

Raffles Resort Canouan Island is grand class presence in the eastern Caribbean â€" villa units one some 300 acres of a 1,200 acre resort, and with rooms and suites all providing spectacular interior décor, guest amenities and ocean views. Beyond your personal domain, you get around the property on your own golf cart to the two world-class restaurants, boutique shopping, health spa, and Trump International Golf Club. Along the way, you take away memories of the many amazing vistas of the bay this resort is nestled around one of the most awesome being from the 18th hole of the golf course at a high point on the island.

Tamarind Beach Hotel & Yacht Club is one of those small resorts at the end of the world that you always knew existed in books but find the reality to be even something better once you arrive. Facing expansive Grand Bay, guest suite accommodations are in long, low single-story wood structures where guest rooms feature chic Med-Caribbean design accents and a private verandah facing toward the water. Suites include a sitting room, kitchen and extra bath. Just yards away, the Palapa Restaurant offers a menu of Italian and Caribbean creativity, while the casual Pirate Cove bar is the place for weekly barbecues and themed dinners. Water sport options here include day sails on a catamaran, kayaking, sailing and diving.

Union Island

A crossroads of the Grenadines and situated just 40 miles south of St. Vincent, Union Island is resplendent with vertical mountain peaks and an inviting main harbor with its own marina. The main town of Clifton bustles with some fine dining at good value, along with authentic local shopping and a friendly local population. A small airport that handles scheduled inter-island connections and regular ferry connections makes getting here quite easy.

Anchorage Yacht Club, as its name suggests, is a popular port of call for the elite yacht crowd but with its waterfront locale, restaurant featuring fresh seafood fare and comfortable guest rooms with seaview patios is also a favored stopover for other island-hopping travelers. Rooms and cottages are decorated in a contemporary Caribbean style, and there is also an onsite boutique shop and a bar.

Amerindi is a very new boutique hotel officially launched in late 2010. Located right in the beach, once you arrive at Amerindi everything is included from food, beverages and snack as well as unlimited massages and certain excursions. The hotel's nine suites feature large private suite balconies that provide striking views of the bay, the mountains rising above it, and the pelicans diving into the crystal clear water. Each suite is individually designed and decorated with a mix of local and Scandinavian furniture giving it a clean cut feel. Thanks to the small property size, they are able to offer guests a completely bespoke service from arranging trips to the Tobago Cays to fishing trips with local fisherman or even simple picnics on the beach.

Mustique

Although it's garnered notice as a playground for Euro royalty and international society, this small private island also boasts some of the best beaches in the Grenadines. Its interior is hilly and most visitors get around on a golf cart, while its coastline has a fine yacht harbor at Brittania Bay, which is also the main focus of daily activity and annual events. To get an idea of who else may be visiting, stop in at legendary Bail's Bar and Restaurant for drink or lunch.

Cotton House is a longtime standard bearer of grand colonial-style luxury in the Grenadines. Located between Endeavour and L'Ansecoy Bays, this property is named for the original 18th century cotton warehouse it was structured around. Nowadays, guests enjoy oceanfront rooms and suites or poolside cottages with luxe features such as sunken baths and marble-fitted bathrooms, and private terraces and walkways. There is a beachfront spa and fitness center, and for dining guests repair to the Veranda Restaurant for Italian gourmet or more casual refreshment at the Beach Terrace. Other outdoor active options include tennis courts, bicycles, diving and water sports.

Firefly Mustique has its own legendary charm among connoisseurs of the best in Caribbean barefoot elegance. Overlooking Brittania Bay, guest accommodation is housed in a three-story inn set amongst dense foliage, and the five rooms come with such features as plunge pool, private deck, and hi-tech entertainment and wi-fi ensuite. Meals are inclusive with stay, and take place at the Firefly restaurant serving Caribbean and European gourmet fare. There are two pools for swimming, but the beach is just a short walk down a garden path. For waer sport, a Sunfish can get you out into the bay, or just enjoy the snorkeling. Firefly is ideal for honeymooning couples or anyone in search of a total retreat.

Mustique Villas are the collection of 74 decadent villas now available for rent through the Mustique Company and for anyone who wants complete villa seclusion with your own choice of experience from Classic Caribbean Houses to Contemporary Villas, Hilltop Villas to Villas on the Beach. Along with onsite villa staff, guests at any villa also have access to the island's land and water sport activities and locally arranged excursions.

Mayreau

It measures around just one and a half square miles and is home to some 300 residents, but tiny Mayreau is a powerful draw to lovers of its pristine beaches of Saline Bay and Salt Whistle Bay, to small boat sailors and anyone else enjoying the snorkeling and diving at this far end of the Grenadines. Points of interest on the island itself to visit include the tiny village of Sal Whistle with its small stone church affording awesome ocean vistas, and the village's bars and restaurants.

Saltwhistle Bay Club is the obvious choice for anyone wanting to enjoy an overnight stay on Mayreau. This peaceful beachside hideaway features airy bungalow style rooms made of local stone and with its own private verandah, all set amidst 22 acres of palm and sea grape. At the open-air restaurant, dine at individual thatched-roof cabanas were you are treated to lobster and other local fresh seafood creations. The main water sport activity here is the excellent diving and snorkeling, Guests are picked up in Union Island and brought over by boat to Mayreau.

Petit St. Vincent

As the southernmost point of the Grenadines chain, Petit St. Vincent's geographic remoteness and tiny size (just 113 acres) all position it as a standout for anyone valuing seclusion. PSV, as this private islet is casually known, is fringed with white powder sand beaches and its landscape dense with palm and foliage. Guests or day visitors can come in from Union Island on the resort's own private launch.

Petit St. Vincent is the only man-made structure standing and serenity is the theme here with no phones or TV, but plenty of privacy and solitude on-hand. Each of the large stone-and-timber guest cottages feature separate bedroom, living, bath and outdoor patio areas. Ceiling fans and hardwood louvers keep the trade winds gently flowing. Frills include teak loungers with pullout ledges for drinks or paperbacks, and well-stocked bar carts,. You communicate your needs to staff by way of an outdoor flag system. For water sport, choose from sailboat, windsurf or kayaking equipment, or have the resort arrange you a fishing trip or sail from the dock.




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