During a recent visit to Grenada, more than one person took me aside to say that Spice Island Beach Resort was the most luxurious property on the island. Unforced kudos like those pique my interest, so I was looking forward to touring the property and having dinner with the resort’s owner, Sir Royston Oliver Hopkin, a bona fide legend in Caribbean tourism.
Before dinner, I took a stroll through the property with Sir Royston’s son, Ryan Hopkin, the assistant manager of the front desk at the resort.
“The U.S. market is very important to us, although presently only 10 percent of our guests come from the states,” Ryan said. “The recession and access is holding it back.”
Spice Island Beach Resort exterior // (c) 2010
Spice Island Beach Resort was hard hit by Hurricane Ivan back in 2004. After closing for repairs, it reopened with decor more contemporary in design. The resort also added a spa after the hurricane and introduced Wi-Fi in the lobby. The resort has a distinct Caribbean/Moorish architecture, with 64 rooms and suites; 39 of these are categorized as beachfront rooms. The resort also has 1,600 feet of beach frontage.
“There are essentially two types of people — those who love the beach and those who love the privacy of their own pool,” Ryan said. “We’ve had beach-lovers who were offered upgrades to a pool suite and they said, ‘No. We want to be by the beach.”
I was rather impressed by the Royal Collection Pool Suites. These have cedar saunas and the largest private pools, measuring 16-by-20 feet.
“Our Royal Collection Pool Suites offer total privacy,” Ryan said. “You have your own gated suite, and the staff will need to ring to enter the suite’s courtyard.”
These suites would make a good recommendation for honeymooners and couples on a romantic holiday. One note: Kids aren’t allowed in the pool suite categories, presumably for safety reasons.
Discourse Over Dinner
Sitting down to dine in the resort’s Oliver’s Restaurant, I finally had a chance to meet the legend himself, Sir Royston Oliver Hopkin.
“I don’t compete with anybody, I compete with myself,” he said. “I evaluate how I am doing and then try to do better.”
When asked if Grenada had a high enough profile in the U.S., Sir Royston responded, “The more upscale traveler will know by word of mouth or through research. The guest who would book Grenada at $800 a night is already a savvy traveler. They will spend $3,000-$4,000 a week because they want to get to know Grenada.”
Spice Island Beach Resort is anything but a cookie cutter property, and I was given the impression that decisions were made on merits. For instance, each Wednesday Sir Royston hosts a cocktail party in his home, which is three miles away, for guests of the resort. A unique touch on a smaller scale is the toasters in each room. This isn’t so guests can make their own toast — it’s the resort’s solution to the problem of having toast, delivered from room service, arrive cold. The staff person delivering the room service breakfast prepares the toast once he arrives in the guest’s room.
Sir Royston admitted that access from the U.S. was a problem.
“We have a twice-weekly Miami flight that flies direct to Grenada, which has been a help,” he said. “And we’re looking for American Airlines to give us one or two flights a week out of JFK.”
[Since speaking with Sir Royston, it’s been announced that Delta will begin nonstop, twice-weekly service from JFK to Grenada, commencing June 5.]
I also asked Sir Royston if he had plans to build any additions to the property.
“If I build at all, I need a return on my investment,” he said. “When the world changes, then I’ll build, most likely condos.”
Sir Royston added, smiling, “We have a saying in Grenada: ‘Greediness kills the iguana.’”
Spice Island Beach Resort