Ultra-Luxury in the Grenadines | TravelPulse

Theresa Norton

The beautiful Mandarin Oriental, Canouan.

The beautiful Mandarin Oriental, Canouan. (Photo Credit: Mandarin Oriental Media)

This article originally
appeared in the May issue of AGENTatHOME magazine. 
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If your affluent clients are looking for a spectacular place
for a milestone trip or an ultra-luxury vacation for several generations,
consider the Mandarin Oriental, Canouan, located on one of the uncrowded and
untrampled Grenadine islands.

Small and Secluded

Canouan is a narrow island – just 3.5 by 1.2 miles in size –
about 25 miles south of St. Vincent. It’s the kind of place travelers want to
visit when they tire of overdeveloped high-rise resort areas or overly trendy

“You are in a destination which is inhabited by 1,500
people, but 10,000 turtles. The only traffic jams are with turtles.”

Mandarin Oriental, Canouan has just 26 suites and nine
lagoon and patio villas. “And there are also other villas, which are
individually owned,” said Hemal Jain, general manager of the property. “Some of
them come on the rental pool of Mandarin and some do not.”

It’s all part of the 1,200- acre Canouan Estate – owned by
Italian billionaire Andrea Pignataro – which also includes a number of villas,
an 18-hole Jim Fazio-designed golf course, tennis courts, and a kids’ club.
Canouan Estate is a member of Leading Hotels of the World.

During my March stay at the Mandarin Oriental, Jain said the
property was 85 to 90 percent booked, yet it felt completely uncrowded.

“The only time you see people is when you’re having
breakfast or maybe on the beach,” he said. “Even if we’re fully booked between
the two entities, we can take up to about 300 guests. And the island and the
estate will never feel that they are fully booked. That’s the beauty of Canouan
Estate and Canouan as an island.”

Beachfront Location

Mandarin Oriental, Canouan is located along an uncrowded
stretch of Godahl Beach on the Atlantic side, set with loungers and umbrellas.
During my March visit, it could be windy and the water sometimes choppy – still
fine for a ride on a small Hobie – while the beach on the Caribbean side of the
island felt calmer.

Your clients can take a small, motorized raft over to Shell
Beach, part of the Canouan Estate property. Shell Beach is more sheltered from
the wind and has lounge chairs, umbrellas and a snack bar. This is also the
spot for snorkeling to explore coral reefs teeming with fish.

Getting to Canouan Island

One of the first questions many ask about Mandarin Oriental,
Canouan is: How do you get there?

It’s not as difficult as it seemed when I first began
researching flights to Canouan through St. Vincent or other nearby islands.
Turns out, Mandarin Oriental and Canouan Estate make it fairly simple to get
there – just travel to Barbados and Canouan’s concierge service will handle
immigration and security while guests relax in the VIP lounge. Visitors are
then escorted to a six-passenger Cessna Citation private jet or a Grenadines
Air Alliance 19-seat DHC-6 Twin Otter Classic 300-G for the short flights over.

The Twin Otter operates scheduled shuttle service that drops
passengers off at other islands, Bequia and Union Island, for example, along
the way.

The entire private jet costs $6,300 to $7,000 nonstop
roundtrip or $1,600 roundtrip per seat. Or, clients can book the “Jet Set Villa
Escape” for at least five nights, which includes private jet transfers.

Myriad Dining Options

With several restaurants at our disposal, we enjoyed a
tasting menu at Tides Bar + Grill, which included pasta fagiolo, duck
tortellini and surf-and-turf – veal tenderloin and jumbo scallops.

Lagoon Café serves lunch and dinner, with many
Mediterranean-influenced seafood and tapas dishes. Asianne is the breakfast
spot for eggs Benedict, avocado-and-prawn toast and fresh juices, including
local favorite soursop. There was also a barbeque on the beach one night.

Island Activities 

Guests here can relax around the infinity pool or on the
beach, take an island tour or try their hands at archery.

Another option is hiking up the island’s highest peak at 877
feet – the steep, narrow trail goes straight up, but the views from the top are

The resort also offers a fun experience called 13th Golden
Hour Sparkles and Bubbles, when guests watch the sunset from the 13th hole of
the golf course with canapés and sparkling wine.

Red-footed tortoises – each with 13 spots on their shells –
emerge as the day ends and congregate on the greens. “You are in a destination
which is inhabited by 1,500 people, but 10,000 turtles,” Jain said. “The only
traffic jams are with turtles.”

An Ultra-Luxury Price Tag

All this space and seclusion at this ultra-luxury EP resort
comes at a price, of course. “For a one-bedroom ocean-view suite, we are about
$2,500 a night,” Jain said. “That’s for a beautifully designed suite with a lot
of space [about 1,226 square feet], great double vanities for him and her, a
beautiful living room and an outdoor balcony. We also have beachfront suites,
where the balcony opens up to the beach.”

Reaching Out to Agents

Jain said he’s working hard to raise the profile of Mandarin
Oriental, Canouan with luxury travel advisors in the U.S. “Big time,” he said.
“Since the time I have taken over, I have literally traveled every month to the
U.S., whether it be Miami, New York, Nashville, Austin or Chicago.” And more
cities are on his schedule.

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