Unspoiled beauty, exotic hideaway – when all things align at Sandals LaSource Grenada, Hashtag Life writer Maria Ciubotaru reviews her magical Caribbean escape at the Sandals Resort
If my beach sandals could, they would have smiled the minute I stepped outside Maurice Bishop International Airport in Grenada: the air is scented with local spices, the people are warm and welcoming, the pace of life is relaxing and the rhythmic pulse of the island is engulfing.
I could fill this article with every detail I can remember – and boy, I remember a lot of details – about the stunning Sandals LaSource Resort & Spa where I spent my days baking in the generous sun and feeling energized in the company of good people. I have no doubt I could impress you with the amount of historical and economics data I learned about Grenada during those five days, but you could find this all out by simply Googling “Grenada” and “Sandals LaSource.”
Instead I want to tell you about how I felt, smelled, heard and sensed my way through the “Spice of the Caribbean” and let you decide for yourselves how quickly you want to book your trip to the resort.
I was, and still am, simply in awe with the whole experience: with the abundance of good vibes the island showers upon you, the surreal unspoiled beauty of the scenery and the lavishness of the resort, the flawlessness of the sunrise and the peacefulness of the dusk, mesmerised by the wonders of the underwater world and the hospitality of the people. Throughout every step of my trip, I felt overwhelmed, humbled and privileged to be a part of it all.
Simplicity is key, goes the saying, and I lived by these words whilst staying at Sandals: breathing in the fresh, salty air during an early morning stroll on the resort’s beach, swimming under the odd rain shower that locals call liquid sunshine, being anchored in the present moment while doing Vinyasa yoga on the resort beach or making friends over a glass of champagne (always served with confit cherry at the bottom of the glass). And of course, while at it, taking loads of pictures to immortalize the ephemeral.
After an eleven-hour flight, three movies and not an ounce of sleep, I checked in Sandals LaSource resort with chilled towel and a glass of champagne (there’s an abundance of tasty chilled champagne at Sandals), feeling like royalty. That in itself should be enough to understand the kind of service you can expect during your stay.
Only a couple of miles from the airport, LaSource is a stunning resort, with picturesque grounds overlooking the Caribbean Sea, its own private stretch of sand – the Pink Gin beach – stretching right at the bottom of the south-western tip of the island and guarded by ashy volcanic rocks that protectively enclose the gorgeous bay.
The staff – always smiling, always ready to help – do their best to make your time in the resort as comfortable and entertaining as possible. Whether welcomed with a chilled drink and a towel by the pool or leaving tasty Grenadian chocolate on my pillow, I felt my needs were anticipated and my questions answered before I had time to ask. I loved the natural and enthusiastic way they carried a conversation, mindful of not becoming an intruder in my privacy.
LaSource includes four villages – The Pink Village, The South Seas Village, The Italian Village and The Lover’s Hideaway Village -boasting luxurious suites, some with their own infinity pools. With 257 rooms and suites spread across the 17 acres of land, the resort – with the air of a Latin American hacienda – has the biggest capacity on the island. With personalized butler service available in 69 suites – in the swim up pool suites, rondovals and skypool suites – the resort also includes 5 Star global gourmet dining from a choice of 12 dining options.
Like all the other Sandals destinations in the Caribbeans, LaSource is a holiday concept created with the idea of couples in mind – and a sought-after wedding location. The entire resort revolves around celebrating couples, love and romance. From the hypnotic fire pits in the middle of the main pool where lovers can cozy up at night to gaze up at the stars, to the inviting hammocks spread about the beach, to the pontoon bridge leading into the turquoise sea, LaSource emanates romanticism.
And unlike other resorts that advertise themselves as all-inclusive only to find out upon arrival about all the costly extra bits included in the fine print that no one ever reads, Sandals Grenada is the place where everything…and I mean everything is inclusive, except the diving certifications recognized anywhere in the word and the shopping area.
With three freshwater recreational swimming pools and two river pools, a spa and a gym coming fully equipped with a personal trainer for the eager ones like myself who welcome the option of an exercise routine between the champagne at lunch and the nutmeg ice-cream at dinner, and all the royal snacks and cocktails in between that somehow seem to spring miraculously in your way at every turn.
I was lodged in the Pink Gin Village in a spacious room with a king size mahogany bed, high ceiling reinforced with timber beams and Turkish ivory patika marble floors. I appreciated the ample bathroom space with the huge walk-in shower, with a window looking into the room which made the whole morning ritual more enjoyable, as mine was a chamber with an ocean view and a balcony.
The tour of the resort uncovers magnificent oversized Love Nest Suites in the Italian and Lover’s Hideaway Village, “a pinnacle of luxury”, as the hosts are proudly asserting. Exceedingly romantic bedrooms, stunning livings rooms complete with indoor heavy wood dining tables, writing desks with plush sofas, smart TVs, a butler pantry and a fully-stocked wet bar featuring premium spirits. The bedrooms have direct access to a private cantilevered, solar heated plunge pool with infinity edge where couples can admire the stunning ocean while floating in the sky. And if the pool is not your thing, you can enjoy the sunset while soaking away in your own private tranquility soaking tub for two, right outside your door.
In the South Seas Village, the Tahitian-style Love Nest Suites are my idea of a romantic haven, offering privacy and extravagant luxury and also featuring a butler service. The opulent bedrooms have king-size beds as well as separate living room areas, both revealing direct access to a private sundeck complete with plunge pool and whirlpool.
I am usually not one for big breakfasts, but walking into Spices restaurant, I am spoilt for choice. First thing each morning I indulge in a mouth-watering helping of fragrant tropical fruits and I develop an obsession for passion fruit. After the morning workout, I happily march back for seconds: a delicious omelette cooked by the legendary Jean who’s entertaining me with stories about her beloved Grenada while keeping her hands busy above the stove. Cozied up on the restaurant veranda, I wash down the feast with premium quality Jamaican coffee.
Lunch time finds me inevitably at Neptune’s, right on the beach, where they serve a killer grilled mahi mahi fish accompanied by the best sweet potato fries I have ever tasted in my life.
As for dinner, the offering ranges from two Italian eateries to a Japanese Teppanyaki. I got absolutely hooked on the batter fried prawns and the sushi delicatessens at Soy, located in the Pink Gin Village. Le Jardinier would 100% delight all your senses if French cuisine is a favourite and the surf & turf at Butch’s Chophouse, a world class a la carte stakehouse gives your taste buds an unforgettable experience. If you’re into ethnic foods, definitely try the Caribbean and Asian day at Spices.
And because I mentioned already that these people might be psychic, every Thursday evening, there’s a place where chocoholics unite for a late night chocolate buffet. As a proud member of Chocoholics Anonymous, I was the first in the queue to sample the island’s delights.
If you’re into sports and fitness, the Red Lane® Fitness Centre offers top-of-line training equipment and … Vonn – a famous professional Grenadian body builder as your personal trainer. While, there are also plenty of group activities to choose from, such as power walking, music infused cardio blast, or dynamic stretching – I settled for a short and not-so-sweet tabata class, an abs routine and aqua fitness.
Guests have many land sports to choose from such as tennis grounds, table tennis, board games, beach and pool volleyball, billiards, and shuffleboard or bocce ball. One late afternoon we took a hobie-cat out to sea and raced across the waters. Kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkeling, windsurfing are also options that come all with complimentary instruction.
And after a hard day at the beach, what better way to end the day than with a youthful radiance facial, signature of the Sandal’s Red Lane Spa? The choice is abundant, just like everything else in the resort: you can try everything from reflexology to hot-stone therapy, deep relief massage, beautician, hot and cold plunge pools and sauna and steam rooms.
Explore the Island
While it is so easy to slip into this routine, I felt this experience would not be complete without getting a taste of the culture by going on a half day Grenada sampler that Sandals offers its guests. First stop is the Capital – St George’s – a bustling, cute port town of flamboyant buildings and dwellings perched on the volcanic hills and a famous university where 7,000 international students are currently studying.
Driving through the serpentines, I listen to our guide tell us about Grenada’s fascinating past and about the Rasta colours – the national colours of the island. We get to smell a real nutmeg freshly picked from a tree and hear about the exotic habits of the locals. I watch the innocent faces of the children waiving at us. We pass people who smile at us and I can’t help myself but smile and wave back infected with the contagious enthusiasm omnipresent in Grenada.
We pass by Clarke’s Court rum factory where we get acquainted with the 19 varieties of flavoured, dark and white rum, one for every discerning connoisseur. On our way to Fort Frederick, I am given a crash course in Grenada’s history and current internal affairs. Passing by St George’s main police station fondly called the Hilton, as it is more as a place to hang out for the police force rather than an institution dealing with law offenders, due to low crime rate.
Up in the hills we visit Fort Frederick, built by the French in the early 18th Century. Our guide, the self-proclaimed Alice in Wonderland, talks to us about Grenada National Museum, which displays Carib and Arawak artefacts and gives us more facts about the island’s sugar and whaling industries.
Back in St George’s, we do a pit stop to sample the delicious jellies, jams and liquors in the local factory and hit the balmy streets of the Capital, packed like Oxford Street on a Saturday afternoon. I test my haggling skills at the Grande Anse Vedors Market, allowing myself to get lost among fragrant nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, vanilla and cocoa, scented candles and reggae music.
St George’s is a world of contrasts – the streets alive with shoe vendors rhyming their sales pitch in microphones. Latest iPhones and blingy clothes, kitschy ornaments and vibrant colours. The women are voluptuous, the men are charming.
There is no better way to end a day like this than on Grenada’s famous Grand Anse Beach, a two-mile arc of golden sand and pristine turquoise waters, where I walk barefoot and let the sand sift through my toes and through my thoughts, connecting me with this pulsating, vibrant land.
Although a public beach, it is tranquil and half deserted. It dawns on me …the simplicity of it all. I am half way across the world, walking along people who are dancing in the streets, living life in nature’s rhythm, oblivious to the world outside their bubble.
The following day I’m ready for the next adventure – a power boat tour courtesy of Grenada Seafaris, owned by an English couple originally from Manchester, who one day went on a sailing adventure and after two years and a half of sailing the world decided to make their new home in Grenada.
At Moliniere Bay, when I see the Underwater Sculpture Park sitting in a volcanic reef, I am at a loss of words. Down below, in shallow waters, lies an incredible submerged gallery created by artist Jason deCaires Taylor that help the corals and sponges grow in the Marine Protected Area. While snorkeling is enough to see the sculptures, to get up close you need to dive. Gliding my way past schools of silvery fish, past unnerving, life-size silhouettes of Sienna, the mermaid, the Lost Correspondent, a reporter typing away at his desk about events in Grenada, the epic Christ of the Deep and the Vicissitudes, a circle of children holding hands, is an experience I will always remember.
Down there, in the Ocean, me and a million Dorys, I feel free, I feel small yet mighty…I feel connected. My heart is filled with the wonder of this miraculous world, the nature’s unaltered way of just being. I must have been a siren in another life time, remembering the feeling of living down there, among the crystal palaces and exotic creatures of the underwater world.
What I am taking away
The beauty of LaSource resort is that it offers the best of both worlds: the luxury of floating in your own infinity pool, doing night snorkelling among turtles, eagle rays and tropical reef fish, and visiting the island and be given an opportunity to help the local community, the Caribbean people. As a guest, you can also choose to take part in a reading road trip, a volunteer enhancement program where you are given the chance to help local children between ages of five and seven to improve their listening, reading and comprehension skills.
I would like to be a poet and write an unforgettable ode to Grenada, one that would seduce the whole world over. Being part of this experience makes me so humble and so alive. “Be present in all things and thankful for all things,” Maya Angelou’s words never rang as true.
Grenada arouses your senses with its bright colours, breath-taking, surreal landscapes and enticing spices and flavours. I am dazzled by this new world, by this new way of life, connected to everything that fulfils my true needs. I find my awareness heightened and aligned with the creative power of this wonderful universe, I feel so in tune with.
Whether roaming the quirky streets of St. George’s, tasting the authentic Grenadian chocolate at the Chocolate House, sipping on Hummingbird cocktails slouched in a hammock at Sandals, Bob Marley’s song keep popping in my head – “everything’s gonna be alright…” Because this is how it feels. Everything is happening as it should be….everything makes perfect sense and there is no other moment more important than the present one.