Escape to St. Vincent and The Grenadines
“In the cottages, there’s no WiFi, there’s no TV. There’s minimal technology – only a Bose sound dock for music and a Nespresso coffee machine. That’s it,” General Manager Matthew Semark explains upon arrival at Petit St. Vincent Private Island, a 115-acre tropical oasis in the southern tip of The Grenadines.
Free of telephones and room keys, each of the 22 one-bedroom cottages and two-bedroom beach villas rely instead on a flag pole system to communicate with staff.
“When guests are relaxing inside the cottage they raise up the red flag, that signals do not disturb, so nobody comes to the cottage. Whenever they head out for any meals and activities, they lower it back down and the housekeeping team will pop in and tidy up,” he says. “Need anything else, breakfast, lunch, dinner, more rosé, they raise up the yellow flag and that signals the butler team that is circling the island all day from about 6:00 a.m. in the morning until the last guest is in bed.”
Early the next morning after catching the sunrise, it’s time to put the system to the test. I fill out the room service form, place it in the pigeon hole and hoist up the yellow flag. Some thirty minutes later I’m devouring Eggs Benedict from a secluded cliffside patio to the sound of crashing waves with a few hungry onlookers – birds, that is, there’s truly not a soul in sight.
“This is paradise,” I think, telling myself in all likelihood there wasn’t an earth-shatteringly important email waiting in my inbox.
The allure of being disconnected and getting away from it all is what draws in celebrities and repeat customers alike to the boutique beach resort. This digital detox feels miles away from the modern amenities at the Mandarin Oriental on Canouan, another of the 32 islands and cays that make up St. Vincent and The Grenadines (SVG).
Here an iPad controls the drapes and light settings in the room, and with the push of a button, a wall with a built-in TV recedes to make way for an unobstructed view of the beach.
As Shelley John, director of Sales, Canada for the St. Vincent and The Grenadines Tourism Office, puts it, there’s something for every type of traveller and budget in the archipelago.
“SVG is most known as a luxurious getaway for the rich, famous and even Royals with the likes of Princess Margaret bringing global attention to the destination,” she tells Travel Courier. “However today, thanks to low-cost carriers, value accommodation options and friendly locals, this destination is anything but exclusive. It’s a place for anyone looking to escape and just enjoy the simple things with stunning surroundings and it can be attainable for travellers at many price points; from entry to mid-range and high-end luxury.”
As an authentic, accessible yet relatively undiscovered option in the Caribbean, John says the destination is seeing strong growth out of Canada with a 16% increase in visitors over 2018 from January to April this year.
“SVG stands out because it is one of the best places to have an authentically Caribbean experience safe from mass tourism with the possibility of visiting several islands on one trip,” she says. “SVG has taken great care to preserve its authentic culture and way of life for visitors to enjoy for years to come.”
Here’s a look at some of the accommodation options for clients interested in St. Vincent and The Grenadines’ nine inhabited islands.
Palm Island Resort & Spa
Located on a private island, Palm Island Resort & Spa is an all-inclusive adults-only (16 plus) getaway featuring five white-sand beaches. Complimentary bikes make it easy to explore the 135 acre property. Although the resort used to be WiFi free aside from the library and lobby, general manager Katie Rosiak notes all 43 rooms, suites and villas will soon be connected “because it’s 2019,” and they will leave it up to guests to decide how much they want to unplug.
Be sure to: take a day trip to nearby Mopion Island, a tiny white sandbar with a single umbrella in the Caribbean Sea.
Instagrammable moment: From the hammocks spread around the island to a set of wooden swings in a shallow body of water at a secluded beach, there are many photo opportunities throughout, but it doesn’t get much cuter than the on-site turtle sanctuary. www.palmislandresortgrenadines.com
Mandarin Oriental Canouan
Offering 26 suites and 13 villas, Mandarin Oriental Canouan is an all-ocean view hideaway. Originally opened as the Pink Sands Club, the luxury hotel marks the first Mandarin Oriental in the Caribbean. Flight options include inter-island charter flights from St. Vincent or Barbados, as well as the resort’s private jet or personal private jets.
Be sure to: head off the resort and grab a drink at Shenanigans Beach Club and Scruffys Canouan. Golfers can hit the greens at the Jim Fazio designed 18 hole championship golf course.
Instagrammable moment: the show-stopper is the infinity pool with touches of hot pink.
Young Island Resort
Featuring 29 villas, Young Island Resort is located directly off St. Vincent, accessible by a private 24-hour water ferry. The 13-acre island is full of tropical gardens and has plenty of beachfront. Its convenient location a mere 200 meters from the mainland makes it an excellent base to explore attractions like Dark View Falls, La Soufriere volcano and Wallilabou Bay, where Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed.
Claim to fame: some of the cast and crew stayed at the resort during the filming of Pirates of the Caribbean.
Instagrammable moment: swim over to the Coconut Bar directly off the shore or head to the infinity pool in Villa 26 overlooking Fort Duvernette.
Petit St. Vincent Private Island
A member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the world and National Geographic Unique Lodges of the world, Petit St. Vincent Private Island is where celebrities, including a notable Canadian musician, go to get off the grid. According to GM Matt Semark, the Kardashians have tried multiple times to make a booking at the hotel, but they’re not the right fit for the low-key crowd.
Be sure to: visit the spa for a signature Balinese massage or get certified at the Jean Michel Cousteau Dive Centre.
Day tripping: take a day trip the nearby Tobago Cays Marine Park for some spectacular snorkelling.
Instagrammable moment: hit the beach with views of Petite Martinique and Carriacou, Grenada.