Calabash Boutique Hotel Grenada:
Arrive at the Calabash Boutique Hotel Grenada and you are greeted by a bevvy of immaculately dressed ladies who know your name and introduce themselves, hand you cool towels and whisk away your luggage so seamlessly that you still feel as if you’ve turned up at your rather posh, distant cousin’s country home to stay for the weekend. It’s a smart way to greet your guests, something that gives the effect of a home from home. And, that ‘home from home’ feeling continues when you reach your suite, decorated Homes and Garden style with the kind of furnishings I aspire to in my own house but never quite manage to pull off completely successfully.The collection of small villas which make up the 30 room luxury hotel are arranged in a semi-circle around the lawns and garden, leading down to the beach. Manicured lawns are interrupted by colour pops of tropical flowers and stunning trees, including a beautifully maintained calabash tree complete with fruit (they look like VERY large apples).
With two suites per villa, at the Calabash guests are guaranteed privacy, peace and quiet. And there’s a choice of different styles of rooms – more of that later. Further up the hill, there are another set of larger villas – just five in total, with between two and five bedrooms, which are suitable for small groups or families
By choice, I would always stay in a luxury boutique hotel like Calabash over a resort. For the most part, I travel alone and prefer the intimacy of somewhere with less than a hundred rooms – that level of service that comes from every member of the team knowing me and looking out for me. And, by choice, I would never pick an all-inclusive deal. That isn’t to belittle the wonderful luxury resorts on St Lucia I’ve visited recently, where everything I could have imagined I’d need and more is on hand, rather an observation that if I am staying in a smaller hotel I’ll generally make a real effort to explore more of the area outside the hotel. And, that as a single person, I feel more comfortable when I don’t get lost in a sea of families or cosy couples.
The Calabash style then, suites me perfectly. Guests enjoy an a la carte breakfast in their suite, cooked for them in a tiny kitchen to the back of each villa by their maid. Or if you prefer, there’s the beach club where you can enjoy a spectacular sea view while you feast on fresh Caribbean fruits, eggs cooked in any style you might like or a full cooked breakfast. With your food, The Calabash Times, which tells you everything you need to know for the day…a little bit of history about the island, menu tips, activities to keep you busy and even recommendations for where else you might like to explore outside the hotel.
Lunch at the hotel is served at the beach club too, while for dinner you can indulge in fine dining at Rhodes – apparently, Gary Rhodes first foray outside the UK and still under his guidance with Mark Banthorp as executive chef. There’s a complimentary afternoon tea every day, served English style on pretty tea towers. And, whether or not you order a sundowner cocktail in your suite, you will be offered complimentary canapes.
Once a week, you’ll find the owners host an evening drinks party, with canapes and cocktails. I went along to meet owner Leo Garbutt, his charming wife and two daughters who are now in charge of much of the running of the hotel.
As he explained, he’d gone to Grenada with the intention of buying a rum distillery – but then met a cousin of the distillery owner, who was selling the Calabash in 1987. I’d have been sold too, the hotel is set in the most perfect location looking out onto the pretty secluded beach of Anse Aux Epines, it must have been the stuff dreams were made of. What we now know as Calabash Boutique Hotel is a slightly larger (30 rooms rather than 22) and completely refurbished proposition.
I spent some time in two styles of rooms at the Calabash boutique hotel – first a Junior Suite and then a Superior Suite, both on the first floor and both with their own balcony. Junior Suites are slightly smaller, though the open plan design and 560 square feet of space mean you are unlikely to feel cramped. The bathroom comes with a tub and walk-in shower and with twin wash basins.
Superior Suites have a separate living room, complete with mini bar, pod coffee machine and kettle. The spacious bathrooms have walk-in showers that are large enough that you don’t miss the tub. Mine had a small dressing area too, perfect for getting dolled up for that cocktail party.
What I particularly liked in both styles of room was the careful attention to design – pretty, comfortable and in a palette of soft blues with a nautical theme fitting of the island location. Soft pure cotton bed linen was complemented by piped edges to the Oxford style pillowcases and hand embroidered bed cushions which were carefully removed and stored each evening for turndown. Nothing here had the feel of coming from a ‘hotel supplier’, rather it had been picked by someone with a real interest in the unique personality of the hotel.
In the bathroom, white cotton waffle robes, plenty of fluffy white towels and luxurious Elemis toiletries.
A hairdryer, a safe, ironing board and iron, plenty of hangers in the wardrobe and drawer space for everything you might want to unpack.
In the living room, the coffee pod machine was easy to use and the kettle came with instant coffee and an assortment of herbal and fruit teas, English teas and Lipton yellow label. And, in the minibar a tiny jug of fresh milk which was refilled twice daily. Large bottles of complimentary mineral water were also restocked without asking. The soft drinks in the mini bar could be supplemented by cocktails or wine brought to your room and there was a little order form for your sunset drink delivered to your suite at around 6 pm.
There were magazines to read, but for me, I was happy enough to just sit on the balcony and enjoy my welcome Rum punch.
If I’d been staying for a little longer I’d love to have tried the restaurants. I know from regulars to the island and also from some of the residents we met that both the beach club and grill and Rhodes are destination restaurants in their own right. Breakfast was always good, though I had to place a special order to be served salt cod and bakes, the traditional breakfast of the Caribbean.
I learnt that most of the guests at Calabash are from the UK and, remarkably, at certain times of the year they are almost entirely returning visitors. It’s like a very exclusive, Caribbean country club…a boutique hotel in Grenada.
With more time I’d also have been able to make use of the hotel’s spa with a range of Elemis treatments, played croquet on the lawn, learnt how to sail a Hobie Cat, to paddleboard or gone Kayaking and Snorkelling around the bay. There’s a timetable of activities too – from yoga to beach barbeques and sunset cruises.
As it was, I did just have time to jump in the pool and swim for half an hour or so – with views out across the gardens to the bluest of seas.
If you happen to want more space or your own private plunge pool there are three other room options. Deluxe suites are larger still, again with separate living room and bedroom and with a dressing room area. Pool Suites, on the ground floor of some of the villas, have their own plunge pool and outdoor shower, together with a private walled courtyard to complement the sea view terrace to the front of the villas. And the Penthouse is a massive 2000 square foot space with its own pool, kitchen and dining table and a spiral staircase that can connect it to the suite below via internal spiral staircase making it a 2 bedroom suite. If by any chance, I finally meet Mr ‘Just-About-Right-Enough’, the penthouse suite at Calabash is currently topping the list for my own honeymoon.
In any case, I can happily recommend the Calabash Hotel. It’s a member of the Relais and Chateaux and was voted the number 1 hotel in the Caribbean by Trip Advisor recently.
Apart from the facilities at Calabash itself, the hotel is well located for the airport (about 15 minutes by cab) and is close enough to walk to some of the local bars, We spent our first evening at West Indies Brewery enjoying chocolate beer, listening and dancing to a live band. Grenada is safe to walk around at night and it’s a place where I felt immediately comfortable being there alone. More on what we DID manage to pack into our short trip to Grenada and about the Chocolate Festival coming soon.
Looking for a Luxurious Boutique Hotel in Grenada or the Caribbean? Why not pin this post for later
I travelled to Grenada and stayed as a guest of the Grenada Tourism Authority. For more information about the island please check their website
I was visiting to attend the Grenada Chocolate Festival. More about that to come!
I stayed at Calabash Hotel a five-star luxury boutique hotel on Grenada
There are direct flights to Grenada from London with British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. For more information see the airline websites.