Blank, baffled stares. It is what I was satisfied with when I informed individuals I was heading to Canouan, a petite, three-square-mile island — just a person of 32 inside the string of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. “Where’s that?” my pals, even the most well-traveled kinds, would request. I pulled up a map on my mobile phone, dragging my finger together the Caribbean Sea, pinching the display in and out, finally pointing to a query-mark-formed speck surrounded by Barbados, St. Lucia, and Grenada. I waited for a glimmer of detection. “In no way listened to of it,” they’d say. The truth is, I hadn’t both.
Canouan is one thing of an enigma in the Caribbean: Just a 45-minute flight from beloved Barbados, it has managed to keep on being a key, save for a privy few — an in-the-know crowd who comes to moor their million-greenback yachts (Robert Downey, Jr.) or dodge the paparazzi (George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio). It is even been touted as a “place the place billionaires go to escape millionaires.”
Not extended in the past, even though, the island was with out working h2o or paved roadways, and it tallied extra turtles than human inhabitants. Now, there’s a runway for non-public jets, a flurry of new luxurious lodges and villas, and a multimillion-greenback marina for mega yachts. Still, arriving listed here nonetheless feels like unearthing a thing new.
Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental, Canouan
From the aircraft, Canouan mimics numerous other Caribbean islands: turquoise waters, interrupted only by emerald-environmentally friendly hills and slick, masted sailboats — every single tropical destination cliché is on full display screen from above. Up near, as the island quietly unfurls, roads reveal locals accumulating on the streets of a smaller, energetic village and unfettered ocean views at every bend. There are no packs of cruise travellers, no tawdry tchotchke retailers, no overdeveloped swathes crammed with resorts and eating places. In its place, listed here, targeted traffic suggests breaking to allow turtles pass (Canouan is the Carib word for “island of turtles”), and the nature is so unspoiled you sense as if you might be 1 of the initially to visit. Even improved, it all sits just down below the hurricane belt, steering crystal clear of storms that traditionally hammer the location, so you can find no terrible time to check out.
The attract is apparent, so its pleasantly hushed profile is, then, perhaps thanks to its fairly remote tackle, a single that can be reached via private charter, however ferry and industrial flight service — the latter halting on numerous other islands — are also alternatives. (Mandarin Oriental’s personal jet also makes the 20- to 25-moment leap from hubs like St. Lucia, Barbados, St. Vincent, and Grenada.)
We flew from New York to Barbados, where a committed group whisked us to our private constitution on SVG Air, searching soon after our luggage and pandemic paperwork. Twenty minutes immediately after touching the tarmac, we arrived at the Mandarin Oriental, a stunning, ga
ted resort that rebooted the Pink Sands Club in 2018.
Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental, Canouan
Sitting on a 1,200-acre estate, the beachfront property won’t need to advertise by itself as a luxe hideout: The 26 suites and 13 villas, all of which experience the beach and have private butlers, are proof sufficient. Suites are more than spacious, starting up at 1,300 square ft, with marble loos and a terrace or backyard garden mere ways from the sand — a look at only manufactured improved with a glass of refreshing watermelon juice in hand. And while chic, eliminated-from-the-environment accommodations are customary in the Caribbean, the Mandarin’s multistory hillside villas are in a league of their have: Private infinity swimming pools, out of doors patios, elevators (in some), and a lot more than 5,000 square toes of space are regular in each individual plush perch.
Irrespective of this currently being the Mandarin’s initially Caribbean outpost, the hotel acknowledges its origins with signature bursts of pink, from the umbrellas dotting the beach to the loungers by the spectacular infinity pool that seemingly drops into the ocean.
The resort’s luxurious qualifications rely toward its food stuff, way too, irrespective of whether you choose to gasoline up at one of the great-eating institutions, in your suite, or immediately on the beach for a private torchlit food, toes in the sand and all. (Get the saltfish and coconut dough boy for breakfast.) The hotel can even prepare a castaway-style picnic on a secluded seaside for a very Robinson Crusoe-esque encounter.
Canouan Estate (a shorty dinghy ride absent) also has two delicious places to eat — L’Ance Guyac and Shell Beach — and Soho Seashore Dwelling, also new on the island, and Shenanigans are wonderful for individuals who want to enterprise off the estate. No make a difference exactly where you try to eat, although, kick off the evening with a sundowner at Turtles, a cocktail bar that seems like it was yanked from the Hamptons.
Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental, Canouan
And then there is the spa: Not succumbing to environmental limits, the cure cabanas are all tucked right against a mountain overseeing the drinking water. The home also not long ago debuted two overwater villas with an outside balcony, steam shower, and glass flooring so guests can gaze at the cerulean waters as they drift off in the course of a therapeutic massage, facial, or overall body scrub.
You can find loads to interact energetic vacationers, too, like a round of golf at the Jim Fazio–designed training course followed by sunset cocktails on the 13th hole, or having out a catamaran, stand-up paddleboard, or kayak.
A single morning, I opted for the quick — albeit deceivingly steep — climb up Mount Royal with Kezzy, the Mandarin’s mother nature guide. Pumping my arms and hoisting my knees higher to hold the momentum likely, I pulled my way to the 877-foot summit — the maximum stage on the island — pausing to value the tortoises and soldier crabs with whom we shared the path, until a hummingbird flitting concerning branches commandeered my gaze down. Reaching the peak promptly erased my memory of the energy it took to get there: Spectacular sights, together with neighboring Mustique, Union Island, and Petit St. V
incent, unravel in each way. I questioned Kezzy, who tackles the path virtually just about every working day, whether he tires of the see. “Hardly ever,” he stated.
This seems to be a concept on the island. One more morning, we sailed out to Tobago Cays, cradling 5 uninhabited islands and a protected coral reef with some of the greatest snorkeling in the Caribbean. Somewhere between swimming together with a trio of environmentally friendly turtles and recognizing a faculty of stingrays and sea urchin, I considered to myself, this is as well very good to be real. Afterwards that afternoon, as we bobbed again towards the resort on our catamaran, our guideline, unprompted, shared: “I adore the h2o. Each individual day is different — it won’t get old.”
Even though couple routines exist past the gates of the Mandarin, you can find no have to have for a jammed itinerary. Most days, I found myself moseying to the sand in entrance of my suite much more than a dozen instances a working day, dipping my toes in for a instant, observing the waves gradual dance in the evening breeze. In the afternoon, I’d linger on a lounger with a e-book, ending every single chapter with a dip in the ocean.
On my last day, I snapped a single past image of the ocean, translucent underneath the midday sunshine, and texted it to a friend with the caption, “We have to appear back.” Immediately after all, I’m not one to hold a mystery.