Back to Grenada

In September 2004, Hurricane Ivan battered several Caribbean islands; nowhere was the damage more severe than in Grenada...

At the Grenada Chocolate Company factory. Photograph by Café.MokaFort George, headquarters of the Grenada police, looks over the Melville Street Cruise Terminal. Photograph courtesy the Grenada Board of TourismGrande Anse, south of St George’s, is Grenada’s most famous beach — and one of the most celebrated in the Caribbean, lined with hotels and resorts. Photograph by Café.MokaGrenada’s nutmeg is world-famous for its quality. Photograph courtesy the Grenada Board of TourismGrenada’s wildlife is already recovering from Ivan’s battering. Photograph courtesy the Grenada Board of TourismOne of Grenada’s many rushing rivers, on the east coast near Pearls. Photograph by Café.MokaPlantation House in northern Grenada, now a bed-and-breakfast. Photograph courtesy the Grenada Board of TourismPremium Grenadian chocolate. Photograph by Café.MokaThe picturesque city of St George’s embraces its sheltered natural harbour. Photograph by Café.MokaTraditional boat-building on Petite Martinique, with Union Island in the distance. Photograph by Café.MokaWesterhall Bay, on Grenada’s south coast. Photograph by Café.Moka

September 8, 2004: the day after category-4 Hurricane Ivan blasted Grenada. Across the small island, residents emerging from their battered houses and shelters were shocked by the sheer destruction unleashed by 120-mile-per-hour winds and packs of tornados. Roofs torn off, great trees uprooted, whole villages smashed, and 28 people dead.

Grenada’s Caribbean neighbours were horrified by the news that eventually made its way through remaining communications links. Nine tenths of the buildings on the island roofless or otherwise damaged, 18,000 people homeless, food supplies running short, the famous nutmeg plantations shredded. St George’s, the Caribbean’s most picturesque city, looked like a war zone, the four main churches that made up the “skyline” — Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, Methodist — ruined as if by bombs. Older Grenadians were reminded of the devastation caused by Hurricane Janet 49 years before.

Across the Caribbean and in the worldwide diaspora, people began to mobilise, donating and raising funds, collecting emergency supplies. Neighbouring governments sent teams of soldiers and aid workers to help clean up, repair electricity lines and water mains, build shelters. It would be ten or fifteen years before the island completely recovered, people said. But they had to start somewhere. Slowly, painfully, the rebuilding began.

Though tourism has long been important to Grenada, until Ivan the island remained largely an agricultural economy. Grenadian nutmeg has a high reputation with cooks and manufacturers around the world, and Grenada also exports cloves and cinnamon. But Ivan made firewood of many of these spice trees, and newly planted nutmeg trees take eight or nine years to mature. The island’s banana groves, too, were badly damaged, though these need far less time to regenerate. Not surprisingly, then, one of Ivan’s major medium-term effects has been to make Grenada more dependent on tourism. Repairing the island’s hotels, resorts, and marinas was given high priority.

The islandwide rebuilding effort was set back by Hurricane Emily in July 2005 — lashing rain triggered landslides and damaged replanted crops. But, with massive aid from Caribbean and other countries, and hard work by many Grenadians, by the end of 2005 nearly all of the island’s hotel rooms were ready for visitors once again. All hotels and other facilities have been reconstructed to stringent new building codes. Roofs have been replaced, rooms redecorated, gardens replanted. And everyone in the hospitality business — managers, waiters, cooks, taxi drivers — knows how crucial visitors are to the wider recovery effort: best smiles and extra effort all round. In many ways, the legacy of Ivan is an even friendlier, more comfortable stay for visitors keen to enjoy the island’s charms.

MAKE YOURSELF AT HOME

Almost Paradise
Set on a hillside on the north-west tip of Grenada, Almost Paradise Cottages and Bar is an ideal place to relax, rejuvenate, and enjoy spectacular views of the Grenadines. Nature-lovers will get their fill of bird-watching, hiking, snorkelling, and bodysurfing at the beach, just five minutes’ walk away. From the bar or balcony, you can see whales or dolphins in the sea below. Canadian Kate and German Uwe, who have created their idea of the perfect holiday getaway, will spoil you with their made-from-scratch baking and cooking. Local ingredients are combined in wonderful dishes and given international flair. www.almost-paradise-grenada.com

Maca Bana Villas
The first completely new resort to open after Hurricane Ivan, Maca Bana Villas is a luxury retreat for those who like independence, spontaneity, and privacy: no routines to follow, no schedules to stick to. Let nature’s aesthetic envelop your senses. Utmost privacy in a tropical garden, gorgeous ocean views from the communal infinity pool or from a private hot tub. The property is a family business, run with dedication, joy, and a lot of attention to detail. Massages and spa treatments can be arranged in your villa, and you can have a private yoga, t’ai chi, or pilates lesson on your sundeck. And Maca Bana art lessons with resident fine artist Rebecca Thompson are a special treat for art lovers.

Homestays Grenada
Homestays Grenada gives you the opportunity to stay with local people in their homes, or to rent an apartment or house in one of many different communities in Grenada. Operating since 2000, Homestays Grenada is owned and managed by Earl and Elisabeth Williams, who know all of their hosts personally. Choose, for example, from a comfortably furnished apartment in Grand Anse, a house in a village in one of the outer parishes, or an antique wooden cottage in Carriacou or Petite Martinique. Spend a day with a fisherman or farmer out in her nutmeg estate, or simply take an hour or two learning to drum or to cook Caribbean food. www.homestaysgrenada.com

Blue Horizon Garden Resort
Nestled in six acres of lush tropical gardens, home to 21 species of birds, Blue Horizon features spacious cottage-style accommodation in 26 deluxe suites and six superior studios. A peaceful sunset walk through the grounds will make you feel like you’re the only person there, walking through your own dream garden. The deluxe suites are perfect for families, while the studios provide everything a single person or couple could ask for. Just a short walk away from Grand Anse Beach, Blue Horizon sits across the road from its sister hotel, Spice Island Beach Resort. Blue Horizon can make a dream vacation a reality. Owner Arnold Hopkin and his wonderful staff await your call. www.grenadabluehorizons.com

Monmot Hotel
The Monmot Hotel is a unique resort, a new kind of intimate boutique hotel. It is all about offering holiday flexibility, catering for modest budgets and personal needs — whether sharing a holiday with family or just a quiet time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Gath’s restaurant offers an elegant, relaxed atmosphere for enjoying the delights provided by our internationally trained chef. Fresh produce is provided daily by the family estate. Our friendly and polite staff takes pleasure in serving you local and international cuisine. We look forward to showing you true Grenadian hospitality.

GRENADINE HOP

If you’re staying in Grenada for more than a few days you might want to consider making the short hop north to St Vincent, for a day-trip or a longer visit. Or explore the tiny Grenadines sprinkled in the sea between the two larger islands. Carriacou and Petite Martinique, the furthest south, belong to Grenada; Bequia, Mustique, Canouan, Mayreau, and the Tobago Cays belong to St Vincent. There are also dozens more rocky islets, some unnamed, many boasting secluded white sand beaches accessible only by boat. Or hide out on Petit St Vincent, a privately owned 113-acre island, surrounded by two miles of beach and warm turquoise water, home to the Petit St Vincent Resort.

Petit St Vincent Resort
Enjoy privacy in one of 22 luxurious stone cottages, sited to make the most of their immediate surroundings. Some are notched into the hills and bluffs to catch the breeze, others are just steps from the beach. In place of a telephone, at each cottage there is a bamboo flagpole with a message box. Hoist the yellow flag and a staff member will come and pick up your message for room service, lunch on the beach, or whatever your heart desires. Hoist the red flag, and you absolutely will not be disturbed. Activities include snorkelling, kayaking, sailing, scuba diving, water skiing, a picnic on a sand spit named Petit St Richardson, day charters, hiking, tennis, and massage. Beach barbecues are held weekly with live Caribbean music. Petit St Vincent: a private island for private people.

TOUCH OF GRENADA

Arawak Island Ltd
Since 1986, Arawak Island has been creating perfumes and other products — including candles and body oils — from Grenada’s famous spices, buying either from the nutmeg and minor spices cooperative societies or directly from small growers. Various small producers also supply hot sauces, cocoa, jams, and syrups. Arawak Island insect repellant is made from essential oils with additional chemicals, and is safe and effective. www.arawak-islands.com

De La Grenade Industries
De la Grenade’s award-winning La Grenade Liqueur and Morne Delice nutmeg syrup and nutmeg jam are unique and exotic. Manufactured from the fruit of the nutmeg, skilfully prepared from a collection of secret recipes at a boutique factory in the Grenadian foothills, these luxury products are sold in Europe, Japan, and the wider Caribbean. And De la Grenade continues to unlock the secrets of this mystical spice, nutmeg, a fruit which made its way across the world from faraway Indonesia to Grenada over 150 years ago.