In one of the most talked about takeovers of 2018, the renowned Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group has finally taken up permanent residence in an iconic estate on the paradisaical island of Canouan.
Perched above the coral blushed sands of Godahl Beach, from which the eponymous Pink Sands Club once took its name, this is the first Mandarin Oriental property in the Caribbean, and marks what looks to be a new era of luxury for the previously off-the-radar island.
Situated 120 miles to the west of Barbados and reachable in 25 minutes by private jet, the appeal of this tiny, secluded island is undeniable. A verdant 5-square-mile speck of green amid the vast turquoise, Canouan's untouched sandy beaches, clear waters, and one of the world’s largest living coral reefs make it a pristine natural playground.
Unlike many Caribbean islands, where space to oneself may come at a premium, Mandarin Oriental Canouan's estate occupies almost two-thirds of the island. At just five square miles, exploring its uninhabited grounds requires minimum effort, while providing many a delight to discover - including copious turtle spotting, an old Anglican church, and an expansive 18-hole golf course.
While it remains relatively under the radar, a trip to Canouan combines castaway island escapism with a renowned level of luxury reserved only for the truly elite.
Allow us to introduce Canouan courtesy of the legendary Mandarin Oriental...
The elegant, impeccably designed accommodation offerings are nothing short of the impeccable standard travelers have come to expect from the Mandarin Oriental brand.
Eight new villas, designed by a leading team of Italian architects, have been decked out in the most relaxing neutral tones and earthen hues to reflect the natural environment – using wood and stone sourced locally on the island. Nestled into the hillside above sparkling sands, the villas are stylish, spacious and come with their own private infinity pools – for that extra slice of paradise.
They join the resort’s 26 spacious colonial-style suites, all of which feature ocean views, furnished terraces and Italian-designed touches that instill the sense of staying in a lavish home from home. Beachfront suites all have private gardens and provide unparalleled access to the beach, with pathways that lead directly to the sand, while Ocean View suites all boast postcard-perfect panoramic sea views.
Lost are some – but not all – of the signature pink accents, both respecting the importance of familiarity and reflecting the property’s past, while allowing it to continue to grow as an instantly recognisable icon.Read More
What better luxury than to be able to explore the resort's 1,200 acres on a whim? Each room comes with its own golf cart for its guests' personal use. Whether using it to relax on the beach or play a round of golf, guests have the ultimate freedom to do as much or as little they please.
One for those dazzled by digital gadgetry, a simple, user-friendly tablet in each room operates everything from the in-built speakers and discreet-as-anything TV to the air conditioning and the strength of the ceiling fans, making the optimum levels of comfort less than a touch of a button away.
Everything in the Italian-designed Patio villas has been considered with both style and substance in mind. The ultra-spacious bathrooms crafted from sleek, white marble, include both a bath and a shower, while expansive balconies merge seamlessly into the vast ocean blues beyond.
Explore the island
Tempting as it may be to recline and simply soak up the sun and positively postcard-worthy vistas, Canouan offers a veritable array of activities for the adventure minded to make the most of. Whether pootling around on a personal golf cart, or arranging private led tours, MO Canouan can ensure guests experience the very best that the island has to offer.
If golf is your bag, we can't imagine it could get much better than playing a round on the residential golf course. With wandering turtles and Caribbean sunsets for a backdrop, the 18-hole Jim Fazio designed championship course is the only one of its kind in the Grenadines.
The par-72 course is played over two nine-hole loops, with the front nine meandering around the bay over beach views, and the second nine climbing the hillside, looking out over Canouan and the surrounding islands. It also has one of the world's longest par-3s at 305 yards.
Whether you’re a beginner or pro, take your golf buggy for a tour of the 18-hole golf course to take in the spectacular setting – a sun downer at the 13th hole is an unmissable delight.
Guests can join guided hikes up the nearby 240m (787ft) Mount Royal, the highest peak on Canouan island. Renowned for its wonderful panorama, looking out over the glistening blues of the Caribbean sea towards the islands of Mustique, Bequia and Tobago Cays, it's worth charging the camera batteries for.
With a name that means “Island of the Turtles” in the Carib Indian language, it is no surprise that Canouan is teeming with sea turtles. Spot them nesting nearby, or take a trip to the Tobago Cays, (past Pirates of the Caribbean filming spots) and snorkel or dive to spot turtles in the warm waters. Basking in the sun on deck is, of course, also an option.
After racking up laps around the large infinity pool, the powder soft sands of Godahl Beach or Shell Beach and their twinkling open waters await. An onsite watersports centre has hobie cats, windsurfing equipment and kayaks all available for use for those guests wishing to make more of a splash.
Indulge & feed the senses
We go on holiday to unwind after all. And what better way than in a peaceful, uninterrupted and totally off the radar location, where spa treatments soothe the body, and culinary offerings nourish the soul.
Ten tranquil treatment suites, nestled in the lush hillside and overlooking the ocean make the ESPA spa a total retreat from reality.
Reached either by funicular or wooden walkway along the beach, it's hard to imagine having any worries by the time your feet step back on the sand.
Breathe in the peaceful surrounds from the open air yoga deck, or receive a massage as the gentle waves lap the wooden walkway below.Read More
And now for the biggest daily dilemma there is on this carefree island: what's for dinner?
With five restaurants within the Mandarin Oriental Canouan resort, and access to four more bars and restaurants within the 1,200-acre Grenadines Estates community, there is enough familiarity to guarantee restaurateurs remember your face, yet enough choice to be spoilt with. Head to Juliet for elegant, European inspired fine dining, while Romeo, equipped with a tandoor, brick oven and Molteni stove, serves imaginative pan-Asian dishes.
Produce is always fresh, locations utterly enviable and menus nothing short of mouthwatering.
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