With only 26 suites and 14 villas it’s easy to see how Mandarin Oriental, Canouan has maintained its under-the-radar status. Yes they have broken new ground stylistically, but the luxury group’s first venture into the Caribbean doesn’t disappoint. This is a place where everything comes together in true M.O. fashion: airy ocean facing suites, a little known yet vibrant destination and a signature service rooted in warmth and authenticity. The combination results in a feeling of revelation upon arrival, like discovering a new-age Eden.
Once a destination of escape for rock and roll hedonists, especially on neighbouring Mustique, this hilly fleck on the St Vincent and the Grenadines archipelago is quickly becoming the Caribbean’s next hotspot. In recent years, rock stars have been replaced by super yachts, regularly docking into the Sandy Lane Yacht Club marina – the only way of reaching the island aside from charter or private jet – they ensure the island’s exclusive panache still thrives.
…unhurried, slow living with the very best creature comforts. Mandarin Oriental knows that luxury lies in simplicity, and Canouan is a diligent exercise in this. Yes the suites are elegant and the architecture striking, yet a day here unearths a team that have an intuitive ability to sense needs before they are even voiced – a no-fuss service to rival the one-on-one attention often found at boutique hotels. With just 40 keys, this is the most intimate property that the Mandarin Oriental group operates, a peace of mind which offers a pace of living as slow as the island’s tortoise namesake.
While swashbuckling adventures on pirate ship climbing frames and cookery classes at the kids’ club are entertainment guaranteed, the truly enriching experience is found at Cargo 4 Kids – a charity initiative where guests can donate much-needed supplies to local schools. This tiny island is home to just 1,700 residents; the hotel owner already has plans to build a new school and centre for the community.
Much of Mandarin Oriental, Canouan is what you’d expect from a world-renowned institution, pink parasols pepper the beachfront, the hillside spa’s treatment rooms offer cutting edge therapies and dramatic ocean views, and the 18-hole championship golf course has friendly tortoises for an audience. Yet hidden in its lush greenery a 17th century Anglican church is totally unexpected; used for the occasional marriage ceremony it was transported and reconstructed stone by stone.
From the elegant and traditional-style suites, to the chic and Italian-designed villas (pictured left), all rooms are spacious and considered. Angled towards the Atlantic, they ensure Godahl beach is never far from view. Don’t be fooled by the rustic, tropical surroundings however, these rooms are feats of technological advancement; from discreet TV screens in a mirrored wall that moves aside to reveal sea views, to being equipped with no fewer than three tablets so everything can be customised or requested at the tap of a screen.
Tobago Cays is too much of a temptation not to explore – a bio-diverse marine park and backdrop to parts of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, this cluster of five uninhabited islets is the best way to experience the natural beauty of St Vincent and the Grenadines. Don’t forget to dock the catamaran and snorkel around Horseshoe Reef which surrounds four of the islands with vibrant sea life and curious coral formations.
The winter months from January to April are generally the best months to visit, with temperatures averaging 24°C. Between the months of June to November, expect higher humidity and more tropical rainfall.
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