Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Live like the 1% in St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Maryam Siddiqi  Nov 12, 2012 

  • In St. Vincent and the Grenadines, there are a lot of decisions to be made. Of all the islands on which to stay, do you opt for rustic Canouan, exclusive Mustique or bustling St. Vincent? If you’re lunching at Young Island, do you go with the coconut bread, banana or cinnamon? When touring the Tobago Cays by catamaran, at which island do you snorkle, and on which do you lounge on the beach? When trying to work off the week’s indulgences (cinnamon bread!) at Buccament Bay, do you play tennis, stand-up paddleboard or hop on a bike and tour the resort?
    It’s enough to stress a vacationer out. Fortunately, St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) has a cure for that — namely, the Caribbean Sea, electric blues and greens the likes of which could only be duplicated by the most comprehensive Crayola set. And plunge pools. So many plunge pools.
    Of the 32 islands nestled between St. Lucia and Barbados that make up SVG, only nine are inhabited, some by only 100 people or so. But even St. Vincent, home to about 90% of the country’s 110,000 people, is a lush tropical landscape. There are no direct flights from Canada or any international destination, but it won’t be this way for long. The country is building an international airport that’s due to open in 2013. In the meantime, visitors can indulge in the exclusivity of the place, an ideal stress release.
    Still, there are decisions to be made. Take Cotton House, for example, one of the very few hotels on Mustique. The 17-suite hotel hosts a weekly cocktail party for the entire island, residents and guests alike, in The Great Room, a shabby chic (heavy on the chic) space that provides ample sea views. Attending it doesn’t feel too far off from crashing a stranger’s wedding reception. So should you go?
    Of course, and it doesn’t matter what you wear — paparazzi are banned from the island (you may not be particularly rich or famous, but there’s a good chance the person in the neighbouring villa is). Drink from the endless supply of Champagne, take note that children of the 1% seem to be the only people who can pull off salmon-coloured khakis, and smile. Because you’re going to see these people again at Basil’s Bar, a rustic joint that hosts a weekly dance party. Can’t dance? Don’t worry, no one else here can, except for the titular Basil. (It’s not an unspoken rule, just reality.)
    Or let’s say you’re launching off of Canouan for a day among the Tobago Cays, an archipelago of five uninhabited islands. Do you snorkel at every stop or save yourself for a swim with the turtles in the waters of Baradal island? Aside from turtles, there are starfish, sea urchins and many, many fish to see. So don the mask, or at least always leave the boat with it in hand. You’ll regret doing otherwise.

    Then there’s Buccament Bay on St. Vincent, a new resort nestled in gorgeous hills that wouldn’t look out of place in Jurassic Park. Diversion is the prime objective here, but which one? The options can be overwhelming: soccer, dramatic arts, diving and yoga are just a few of the activities available. If you’ve ever had any desire to improve your tennis game, put everything else on hold for a session at the Pat Cash Tennis Academy here. The pros here are, well, pros — instruction is precise, effective and encouraging. Consider it the working part of your holiday.
    Still, after all of that you’re going to need to decompress, and so there’s one last choice to be made: sea or plunge pool? This one’s easy: Both.
    Travel support provided by Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
    If You Go
    Getting there
    • There are no direct flights to SVG yet (an international airport is expected to be up and running in 2013), so most people come in from Barbados, which both Air Canada and WestJet serve.
    • Regional airlines for interisland transport include Liat, SVG Air and Mustique Airways.
    • Buccament Bay resort: buccamentbay.com
    • Tamarind Beach Hotel: tamarindbeachhotel.com
    • Cotton House: cottonhouse.net
    For all things SVG