by Fred Mawer, The Telegraph, January 14, 2019
You’ll certainly keep fit if you do a few lengths of the lap pool each day at Silversands Grenada. Stretching 330ft (100m) end to end, it is the longest in the Caribbean, or so the hotel claims – and who keeps a record of such things?
Lined with palms and a row of cabanas shading beige-coloured daybeds, the swimming pool is also a contender for the sleekest in the region, and the same can be said for the newly opened hotel as a whole.
The arrival of Silversands is the most newsworthy hotels event on Grenada for many years. At the southern tip of the string of Windward Islands, not far from the coast of South America, the so-called Spice Island is a low-key and largely below-the-radar holiday destination (at least outside yachting circles), without the glitz and glamour and celebrity-pulling power of rivals such as Barbados and St Barts.
Silversands may start to change that. Grenada’s first contemporary-styled luxury hotel is set on gorgeous Grand Anse beach, the island’s finest strand, whose soft sand is in fact more white than silver. It has cost US$125 million (£98 million) to build, with the investment coming from Egyptian billionaire businessman Naguib Sawiris.
AW2, a Paris-based architecture and interiors firm with a reputation for creating striking hotels in various parts of the world, is responsible for the clean and minimalist design. Forget the bright, tropical colours used to jazz up many a Caribbean property; at Silversands it’s all about neutral tones and natural materials: think creamy limestone terraces, light walnut wood floors, dark South American bulletwood vertical slatting on walls, and grey granite paths lined with black pebbles. Furniture in public areas and bedrooms, such as curvaceous and strappy chairs by Barcelonan company Kettal, is also eye-catching.
Eclectic, original pieces of art, bought specially for the hotel by Mr Sawiris, inject individuality and colour: outside the lobby entrance stand two giant wicker statues, bowing slightly as if formally greeting guests, and upright canoes painted with images of exotically dressed women, fishermen and cartoon cats. Bedrooms, in three-storey blocks, continue the muted essay in wood, limestone, cream and white, and are enjoyably hi-tech. From my bedside control panel I could not only dim the lights but also draw the window blinds and gauzy curtains around the bed, and in the bathroom my rainforest shower operated perfectly at the press of a button. Staff – who I found generally to be a bit over-eager, but it was nice to be called “Mr Fred” at every turn – check you in inside your room, and provide a comprehensive explanation of how everything works.
Bedrooms are obstructed from the beach by Silversands’ vast, four-bedroom beachfront villas – a flaw in the property’s layout, in my opinion. However, you do get a view out to sea over the villa roofs from rooms on higher floors, including through some bathrooms’ floor-to-ceiling windows. If you want to be right by the sands, it will set you back around US$9,600 a night in one of the five beachfront villas, which are high-spec affairs with their own infinity pools. Or you could buy one if you’ve got US$12 million to spare. Mr Sawiris will be your neighbour when he’s on the island.
A key element of Silversands is that, unlike many luxury hotels in the Caribbean, it isn’t hidden away from prying eyes, at least on its seafront side. The hotel lies at the far northern end of 1.5-mile (2.4km) Grand Anse beach. It’s a five-minute stroll to an area in front of a craft market where large numbers of cruise-ship passengers congregate, and visitors and locals do wander along the beach in front of Silversands to have a gawp at the extraordinary-looking apparition. None of which is necessarily a problem, but if you’re spending very big bucks on renting a beachfront villa, then you should know its outdoor space is not exactly private. Somewhat cheaper villas are being built on the hillside back from the beach.
While the ultra-modern design of Silversands looks alien to Grenada, it has kept things locally rooted in other ways. Much of the fruit and veg used in the two restaurants comes from a farming network of single mothers on the island. Freshly squeezed local juices, such as passion fruit and golden apple, feature in the indulgent breakfast buffet, while the casual poolside Grenadian Grill offers a tasty “Greniçoise” salad, switching local breadfruit for potatoes. The main restaurant, Asiatique – a jaw-dropping, high-ceilinged, wood-slatted and glass-walled space with a Möbius strip-like sculpture suspended on high – playfully marries Asian dishes with Caribbean ingredients, such as chocolate-flavoured dim sum and banana crumble spring rolls.
As for drinks, there are complimentary local Stag and Carib beers in bedroom minibars, while Puro, a fancy, air-conditioned rum bar, has a vast selection of moreish Caribbean tipples, including from Grenadian distilleries.
Meanwhile, over in the spa – set around a large courtyard containing a swimming pool overhung with dozens of egg-shaped plastic lights, it’s another visual wow – nutmeg (the island’s prime spice) and coconut oils are used in treatments.
I’ve been fortunate enough also to stay at Grenada’s other long-established, top-end hotels. The Spice Island Beach Resort is near the quieter, southern end of Grand Anse beach, from where you get knockout views up the coast and of the green peaks of Grenada’s mountainous interior. Calabash is a peaceful, foodie-oriented hideaway on a sheltered, yacht-filled bay. Importantly, both are very much in the colonial-styled, traditionally elegant vein, and attract mostly an elegant clientele of a certain age.
Slick and cool Silversands couldn’t look or feel more different. It’s aimed more at urbanites in their 40s, says its sales director. On my first night, a DJ from St Tropez was running through a well-chosen playlist in the open-air lounge behind the beach. It certainly made a change from having a live steel-pan band or a crooner providing the entertainment, as is normally the case in Caribbean hotels.
Rooms from £643, including breakfast. Access possible for guests with disabilities.
Read the full review: Silversands Grenada