Canouan is a small island in the St. Vincent and the Grenadines archipelago, and with just five square miles of land it’s home to more turtles than people. Its hilly interior boasts the 700-foot Mt. Royal—a volcanic remnant—which towers over the island’s sinuous shoreline, a shore that offers both Caribbean and Atlantic exposures. The appeal of this remote island, where many well-heeled bigwigs come seeking privacy, is undeniable. Home to just a few hotels and one very small town (Charleston), this is not the place you visit to hit the bars, or wear out the credit card on a shopping spree. You come to Canouan to escape into a cocoon of uninterrupted, well-fed, luxurious time with each other.
In keeping with the island’s private idyllic vibe, The Mandarin Oriental Canouan—part of Canouan Estates—is an ultra-luxury offering that delivers access to an entire country club’s worth of activities. Golf, tennis, hiking are always on tap. This is a Mandarin Oriental, so of course the hospitality is extraordinary. Indeed, a quick scan of the hotel reviews reveals three universal truths: the staff is spectacular, the amenities are top notch and the setting is tranquil.
Days can be filled any number of ways—golf, reading by the pool, spa, or a more involved excursion to Tobago Cay (where they filmed Pirates of the Caribbean) for a full day snorkeling experience. You’ll see sea turtles, starfish and busy coral reefs populated with tropical fish. In between snorkels, refresh yourself with the chef-prepared lunch and a glass of Champagne.
The pampering keeps on coming upon your return, where you’ll discover your butler has drawn a hot bath embellished with tropical flowers and accompanied by a bowl of freshly picked agave –perfect to soothe that skin after a full day in the ocean. This is exactly the thing you need but you didn’t even know you needed, but your butler anticipated on your behalf—the very definition of vacation.
Arrange for a private chef-prepared meal in one of the resort’s new Patio Villas. Designed by a team of Italian architects, the villas have a natural aesthetic that blends with the local surroundings. Each one has an infinity pool and sweeping Atlantic views— a nice setting for a private meal.
Yes, the best sunset experience in Canouan is not in a villa, but on the golf course’s 13th green—with majestic views of both the Caribbean and Atlantic oceans, it’s a panoramic sunset experience unlike any other. The Mandarin Oriental butler will squire you up to the green via golf cart where two plush lounge chairs await along with a small table set with champagne and snacks. Watch the sun rest in the west while its rays cast a pink glow on the east. Roll back down the hillside for a dinner of dry-aged steaks, octopus or barracuda at Tides Bar and Grill and finish the night with a glass of premium rum. That’s one more day, done and dusted.
Canouan is a destination for intimate relaxation with the people you care about—you’ll not suffer the throngs of cruise ship tourists, or those coming to gamble and party. It’s a five star enclave rimmed by cerulean seas—a truly happy place with lots of space.
How to get to Canouan:
The Mandarin Oriental offers a nonstop private jet service to and from St. Lucia and Barbados, which is timed to the arrival and departure times of commercial jets into these islands.
Take Note: Sargassum seaweed is an issue throughout the Caribbean these days and, unfortunately, on the beaches of Canouan. There are plans to install a net to capture the seaweed nuisance, but until that time early morning beach cleanup will be a regular feature here, and at most resorts throughout the Caribbean.