Known as the new St. Barths, Canouan is beloved by Globetrotters seeking privacy
It’s rare to reinvent oneself in style, but the fancy label Mandarin Oriental has done so masterfully. The group has been awarded an impressive star in Canouan, a small Caribbean island only 8 km long, surrounded by a large coral reef. Located in the archipelago of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the island stands out as an escape for the few, known as a new destination where billionaires seek refuge from millionaires. Chic, no? Despite having a smaller portfolio than it’s competition, the Mandarin Oriental has already won the title for most Michelin stars. After opening two locations in Doha and Dubai, the company has taken another step forward with its most recent success.
It takes a mere 30 minutes to fly to Canouan from Barbados or St. Lucia. Upon arriving at the hotel, guests encounter decorations that are somewhere between beachy-sophisticated and tranquil paradise. Rosy shades are present in each detail, from the pillows at reception to the lounge chairs by the seashore. The contrast between the marble furnishings and the crystal-chandeliers gives the hotel a distinctive luster. The imposing resort contains 40 accommodations, a combination of villas and suites. The colonial style suites come equipped with a double shower and sink, a bath, amenities from Acqua di Parma, and a personal butler. The villas, which have between two and three rooms, offer a discreet and modern style.
Ideal for families, the villas come equipped with kitchens and well-stocked laundry-rooms, a jacuzzi, a private infinity pool, and golf-cars for traveling across the hotel grounds. If you want to do more than dip your toes, for about $10 million (USD) it’s possible to buy one of these properties – which, it’s worth remembering, all have a view of Goldhal beach. Guests are also given tablets that allow them to order room service and allow them to control the lights, thermostats, and windows.
Using the tablet, one can also make spa reservations. In the seven treatment rooms available, the hotel offers yoga classes along with unique treatments made from Caribbean ingredients. Exfoliation with mango, rice, and ginger are all available. The featured treatment is a massage titled “digital wellness,” the point being to achieve a state of relaxation so profound as to forget one’s cell phone. Against the backdrop of lush sea views, this task is none too difficult.
Renting paddle boats is another option, in order to get to know the coral on Shell Beach. For those who’d rather walk, follow the Mont-Royal path to see a colorful sunset.
In Canouan, your greatest quandary will be to choose between relaxing in sun chairs on the beach or exploring the paths offered by the hotel. Fish on the high seas, snorkel and visit the turtles. There’s no lack of options for anyone who wants to brave the island’s entire 600 hectares since 400 of them are occupied by the Mandarin Oriental. Are you a fan of Pirates of The Caribbean? Take advantage of the Catamaran route to Tobago Cays, where scenes of the film were shot.
The vast course, built by Jim Fazio, has 18 holes and offers daily lessons. The location of the Mandarin Oriental, hidden behind the island’s lush vegetation, allows travelers to discover the little pearls the island has to offer, like the 17th-century Anglican church. The church was built brick by brick, transported painstakingly one by one centuries ago, and is available for wedding ceremonies.
Known globally for its refined restaurants, the hotel has bet big on the gastronomical quality of its new venture. The Mandarin took chef Nonky Tejapermana directly from London to Canouan. Her Japanese heritage is on display at Asian, a Pan-Asian restaurant that serves dishes like fish cooked in vapor alongside Indian butter chicken. Overall, the restaurant offers 5 bars and restaurants, with eating options for all hours of the day.
The Tides Bar + Grill offers classic seafood dishes. With decorations inspired by Sardinia and Santorini, the Lagoon Cafe is an informal place that serves tapas and other Mediterranean delicacies.
If hunger strikes while you’re on the beach or at the pool, there’s no need to interrupt your day. The pool bar serves sophisticated plates with Peruvian and Japanese inspirations as their stand out tuna tartar. Prefer to dine with your feet in the sand? Enjoy the Shell Beach Bar and Grill, which serves heaping portions of fish and shrimp every day.
The Turtle’s bar possesses a more relaxed atmosphere, with marine decorations inspired by the Hamptons. Live music completes a perfect beachy climate. There’s no doubt that the new Canouan oasis has made the lives of its competitors more difficult, announcing itself as the undisputed top destination for the summer.
Photos: Courtesy Mandarin Oriental