by Claire Wrathall, The Telegraph, February 14, 2018
For more than half a century, if you sought luxury on the Caribbean island of Grenada, the southernmost of the Lesser Antilles, there was only really one option: the Spice Island Resort, a venerable all-inclusive with a large freeform pool and on the fabulous stretch of beach known as Grand Anse.
Over time it has gone through a series of refurbishments (most recently in 2013) and there is a lot to like about it, not least its legendary owner Sir Royston Hopkin KCMG, who bought the hotel outright in 1989. But you wouldn’t call it contemporary.
Later this year, however, an altogether different sort of hotel opens on the west coast of the southern tip of the island. If, as my colleague Fred Mawer has written, Spice Island Beach Resort “is popular with families and elderly couples alike”, Silversands Grenada has a more obviously design-conscious demographic in its sights.
The creation of the Egyptian telecoms tycoon, Naguib Sawiris (chairman of Orascom Telecom, Media and Technology, whose wealth Forbes puts at $3.9 billion), it too sits on Grand Anse Beach, a mile or so northeast. But there the similarities end.
For a start, it has been designed by the Paris-based architects AW2, founded by Stéphanie Ledoux and Reda Amalou, whose other hotel projects include Six Senses Con Dao – one of the most beautifully and imaginatively designed hotels I have ever stayed at – as well as Phum Baitang in Siem Reap, Amanjena in Marrakech and indeed the Patek Philippe store on London’s Bond Street.
As with all their projects, the aesthetic is cool and pared-down, with lots of pale marble, blond wood and a palette of greyish neutrals. What patterns exist are derived from a play of light with shade.
The 43 suites and penthouse are housed in an low linear three-storey building overlooking the beach, but the real jewels in its crown are the nine villas.
Available to buy from $5m to $10m, five four-bedroom villas on the beach; a further four, each with three bedrooms, are on the jungle-cloaked hillside that rises to the north of the hotel. (The latter may not be right on the sand, but each has two pools, so that you can choose between sun and shade at any time of day.)
Of course there’ll be a spa, a beach club and restaurant, a rum and cigar bar alongside a 100-metre swimming pool, the longest in the Caribbean. Less expectedly, there will also be a Thai restaurant. (If you’d rather eat Caribbean cooking, the staff think highly of two-decades-old Coconut Beach, a locally owned restaurant 200 yards down the beach that is famous for its seafood and its breadfruit pie.)
And for those who play golf, Silversands Grenada is a three-minute drive from Grenada Golf & Country Club, the only course on the island.
As Grenada mercifully survived the ravages of last year’s hurricane season, the resort is expecting to attract interest from well-heeled travellers who may not be able to visit their usual retreat. (The scheduled March opening date has been delayed, but it is possible to register interest via the website to receive confirmation of rates and when the booking period begins.)
As Sawaris has said, the clientele he is aiming for are those who would ordinary choose St Barths or Barbados, and “who think there’s nothing like this in Grenada”. Though I can’t think there’s anything aesthetically quite like it on those islands either.