“The airline brings humanity back to air travel,” announced Dave Clark, VP Network Planning at JetBlue. The seats are designed to maximize comfort and add more legroom, while reducing weight to help improve fuel consumption. Personal screens with a new in-flight entertainment system offer films and Direct TV. During the inaugural flight, passengers won great prizes in a bingo game, setting the atmosphere of more fun to come.
Four hours later at the Maurice Bishop International Airport, passengers disembarked to warm breezes and island smiles, a cool jazz band and an abundance of Caribbean cuisine specialties. After addresses from the Airport Director, Mr. Christopher Husbands; Mr. Rudy Grant, CEO Grenada Tourism Authority; Mr. Dave Clark, at JetBlue; and The Hon. Yolande Bain-Horsford, Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation, our press group was transferred to Sandals La Source Grenada Resort & Spa, located five minutes away www.sandals.com/main/grenada
The 225-room all-inclusive resort incorporates top-shelf-brand drinks and unlimited land and water activities, (snorkeling and scuba diving as well) into price packages. Time didn’t permit a dive, but the snorkel trip to view the Underwater Sculpture Park was one of the many enjoyable highlights of our stay. Sandals La Source Grenada Resort & Spa boasts three villages situated on 17 acres of land: the South Seas Village, the Italian Village and the Pink Gin Village. With the long, wide Pink Gin Beach, three large swimming pools and a swim-up bar, the resort never appears crowded, even when at 100% occupancy.
Since our group was scheduled to stay for four days, we weren’t able to sample the ten restaurants at Sandals La Source, however, Butch’s Chophouse serves delicious, imaginative appetizers in addition to their notable tender, juicy steak or fish entrees. Le Jardinier is known for it’s haute cuisine and its reputation is well earned. The escargots bourguignon are sautéed in onions and a healthy helping of garlic and the tender braised lamb shank is served with haricots verts, caramelized pearl onions, roasted pumpkin and Cabernet jus. Neptunes and Spices are favorites for any meal, while Café de Paris serves delicious coffee, cappuccino and pastries throughout the day. (Rather than make coffee in the room, your clients can join the early morning “take-out” stream of guests.) After taking advantage of the activities, great spa treatments at the Red Lane Spa and dining, “liming” (island speak for hanging out) is easy to do here.
Withal, experiencing Grenada was our goal, which included driving through the picturesque capital city and natural harbor of St. George. First under French control in the 17th century, the island was captured a century later by the British. Four forts were built ultimately by both countries, “back to front” (facing away from the sea), to protect the town from Amerindians, the Spanish and Dutch invaders who had established settlements inland. In 1983 under President Reagan, U.S. troops intervened in a left-wing coup and bombarded Fort George. At Richmond Hill, we climbed the highest battlement of Fort Frederick for a stunning view of Grenada’s towns, hills and valleys, and delighted in the refreshing, strong breezes of this windward island.
A favorite adventure among visitors is river tubing down Balthazar River, an estuary of Grand Etang Lake. Giggles, whoops and belly laughs from our group mingled with burbling water as we bumped, rode and splashed into, over and around boulders. The activity is, as the brochure describes, “a thrill of a lifetime!”
Having dried off and changed, we visited the 400-acre Belmont Estate for a superb Creole buffet lunch, replete with island songs. The estate is a 300-year old working plantation, which offers a museum, a gift shop, craft co-op and delicious organic chocolate. Our tour included learning about Grenada’s plantation history of harvesting and processing raw cocoa into chocolate, and, at the insistence of our attractive guide, two from our group joined her to demonstrate how women once crushed dried cocoa beans by dancing on them in a cauldron.
A short distance away, we visited the privately owned Antoine Rum distillery and the oldest functioning water-propelled distillery in the Caribbean. With the intoxicating aroma of molasses and rum fermenting in gigantic vats, the tastings at the conclusion of the tour left all but the hearty souls a wee tipsy.
Our final afternoon in Grenada was spent at the luxurious Spice Island Beach Resort. The all-inclusive boutique resort is the epitome of Grenadian luxury. There are 64 suites, with garden views, plunge pool suites, beachside and oceanview suites. The resort has a large pool near the bar and the powder-soft gorgeous beach opposite. The menus created by head chef Jesson Church change daily so there’s never duplication of meals, and the five-course dinners are nothing less than exquisitely prepared and delicious. The resort is family owned and managed. Their personalized attention, in addition to Janissa’s Spa and Fitness Center, ensures guests - a favorite of 30s and above - of Grenadian quality and typical gentility.
Although our days at Sandals La Source and a lovely afternoon and evening at the Spice Island Beach Resort were brief, we agreed: they were only the beginning of a wonderful relationship with Grenada. Visit www.puregrenada.com