I’ve been very lucky to have had the opportunity to visit many of the Caribbean islands but Grenada had always remained on my bucket list, so I couldn’t wait to write my name in the sand when I received a kind invitation to a 4-night familiarisation trip hosted by the Grenada Tourism Authority.
Our intimate group, consisting of just a handful of agents, and Lisa from the Pure Grenada tourism team, were met on arrival at Grenada airport by our guide Mandoo, who transferred us to our first stop at the Blue Horizons Garden Resort, owned by the Hopkin family and still run by Arnold and his daughter, Mrs Kendra Hopkin Stewart.
After a quick change, we were transported to the Port Louis Marina for a sunset boat trip with Savvy Sailing Tours, the perfect remedy after a long-haul flight. A couple of local beers and snacks later, whilst meeting and chatting with new friends, we were treated to the most beautiful of sunsets.
A key objective of a hosted educational trip is to enable agents to experience hotel/ resort facilities and participate in activities, in order to hopefully be able to recommend a destination from first-hand experience. Mr Hopkin kindly hosted a fabulous dinner at the pool bar and after a delicious meal in great company, I was done for the day.
We had an early start and after a sumptuous breakfast, I grabbed my binoculars and joined the rest of the group for my very first birdwatching experience, enjoying some of the 27 species of tropical birds that have found a haven at the Blue Horizons Garden Resort.
With so much to cram in, we were soon snorkelling to give us the opportunity to see the surrounding marine life first hand before returning to the phenomenal aroma of lunch being cooked at the Aquarium restaurant, situated on Magazine Beach in Port Salines.
The food was simply divine, fresh seafood, steaks and jerk chicken cooked on a BBQ in traditional Caribbean spices, consumed with the added pleasure of a breathtaking view of the ocean.
With very full and groaning bellies we partook in a full tour of the resort and its extensive gardens, which have some incredible flowering plants with incredibly vivid colours and scents.
The evening’s dinner was hosted by Mr Hopkin in the La Belle Creole back at the Blue Horizon. With the restaurant being on a hillside, it affords great views of the city and Grand Anse Beach which we enjoyed along with our delicious West Indian cuisine.
Unsurprisingly I slept well that night, drifting off to the sound of chirping crickets.
Before heading to the Radisson Grenada Beach Resort, our home for the final two nights on the island, we made a site visit to the Coyaba Beach Resort, located on a stunning beachfront and then to Sandals Grenada on Pink Gin Beach with its plunge pool rooms and sky pool suites, where I took the opportunity to grab lunch with some clients who were staying there and it was great to put faces to names.
Although it will never gain much empathy, educational trips are sheer hard work exemplified with hotel site visits and inspections in searing heat.
Different room types, finding out as much as possible about facilities for my clients and trying to absorb it all with pictures and notes can be tiring and we additionally squeezed in a hard hat tour of the new Kimpton Kawana Bay Resort whilst it was still being constructed.
Our last hotel visit of the day was to the Spice Island Beach Resort, founded by Sir Royston Hopkin (brother of Arnold) and a fantastically elegant and timelessly classic hotel.
A further three comprehensive resort tours had been scheduled the following morning at Kalinago Beach Resort on Morne Rouge Beach, a great place to lay your weary head after a day of sightseeing, Mount Cinnamon Grenada Resort located on a hillside with beautiful panoramic views and a pre-lunch stop at True Blue Bay Boutique Resort, a unique hotel geared towards complete relaxation and indulgence.
Lunch at BB’s Crabback Restaurant was a memorable fresh Caribbean food feast supplemented by sipping refreshing coconut water whilst overlooking the sweeping views of the beach.
A visit to Grenada Distillers was a post-lunch rum and taster tour with a difference. Hard hats were donned once more as we were shown around the distillery before the obligatory sampling.
Some downtime on the beach to soak up some Caribbean sun and a dip in the clear blue ocean was most welcome before our final evening’s scrumptious buffet hosted back at the Coyaba Beach Resort and soundtracked by a live local band, the perfect way to sample the hotel as a guest.
Our trip concluded the following day with a "savour the spice food tour" and an opportunity for some local shopping for gifts and spices to take home.
Thank you to the Grenada Tourism Authority folk for organising a fantastic introduction to their beautiful island and to all the kind hospitality we received. I look forward to returning soon.