Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Scouting St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Please pardon the long absence, it has been March madness around here!   Mid month I arrived in beautiful St. Vincent and the Grenadines for a week long whirlwind tour of this 32 island Caribbean country.   Cindi Blair (cindiblairproductions & turksandcaicosproductions) and I arrived to scout, document, and explore, all made possible by invitation from the SVG Tourism Authority who had expertly arranged all our details.

  Our first stop, or might I say hop, Young Island, the place I knew by this iconic aerial image of a heart shaped 32 acre patch of green engulfed in blue.  What a perfect little escape, just a four minute ferry ride from St. Vincent and it's 120,000 inhabitants and busy, by Caribbean standards, city streets.  It's not all city that St. Vincent has to offer however; the islands elevation is in thanks to two partially submerged volcanoes towering high within the landscape.  The capital city, Kingstown, boasts the oldest botanic garden in the New World and waterfalls and hiking abound just over an hour from the city center.  At breakfast our first morning, looking out over the narrow channel separating Young Island from St. Vincent, we witnessed a family slipping on fins from their sailboat at anchor, diving into their day with a snorkel.  If we had not had a flight to Mustique to catch, we surely would have followed lead!

The moment we set foot on Mustique, it was apparent this was a lifestyle island, and that lifestyle is all about leisure. Just beyond the charming little airport lies miles of green grass dedicated to the retired horses of the equestrian centre (I can imagine horses worldwide swimming for Mustique's shores for inclusion) This gentle giant African Baobab tree sits by the Bamboo Church not far from the children's playground.  This island sanctuary envisioned by Lord Glennconnor has now grown to 75 fully fabulous vacation villas (development is capped to 100 homes), each one distinctive and incredible in its own right.  We were lucky enough to tour five of these luscious properties, each with endless opportunities for production clientele:

Mustique certainly has it all in terms of locations; from palatial estates to classic Caribbean charmers, modern minimalist architecture to opulent interiors, in every influence from Balinese to Mediterranean. And nestled within this exclusive but laid back 1,400 acre neighborhood lies the 17 room, effortlessly chic boutique hotel, Cotton House.   Here you will find an old stone mill, lily ponds, and veranda dining at the famous great-room-bar.  This is the only place of it's kind on Mustique, take a great visual tour here

A short flight back to Young Island, we wrapped the day with a fantastic farewell dinner with our lovely host at Young Island, GM Bianca Porter.  Early the next morning I took a nature walk on the islands endless gardens where I captured this dawn image of neighboring Fort Duvernette and it's stone handcut winding staircase before catching our next flight. 

Canouan island followed, where we were welcomed by the eloquent GM Cynzia and the cheerful staff of the Tamarind Beach Hotel.  Situated on an intimate stretch of white sand beach on a boat filled bay, it could not have been more picturesque.  

 Unlike many standard style norms in the Caribbean, Tamarind is darkly different . . . she is a shiny black pearl amongst a handful of white shells. Her entire exterior is painted velvety black, only the gingerbread trim is classic Caribbean white. 

 This would be an excellent accommodation choice for a production team. Every room is not only ocean view but beachfront; the lower level units have private porches with petite swinging gates opening to white sand while the upper level offers breezy rooms with vaulted ceilings. The handsome property feels very tropical getaway with its tiny hut beach bar, billowing draped reception, and a palapa style restaurant overlooking the water.  At night the Pirate Cove Bar comes alive,  with plenty of deck room for guests, locals, and sailors to eat, drink, and dance the night away.  

More importantly, Canouan is a great base for island hopping to the Tobago Cays.  A pick up on the private jetty and a swift boat ride and you may select the beach of your choice . . .

Mayreau not only offers amazing beaches, take a ten minute walk up to the village and you will find an old cobblestone Catholic church, dennis's hideaway, and a half dozen quirky and colorful rasta inspired cafe's and bars worth stepping into. 

Canouan Resort is all about luxury; a  sprawling 1200 acre private estate "featuring hidden coves, beautiful white sand beaches, championship 18-hole golf course, tennis, water sports, a 17th Century English Church located at the heart of the resort, 5 signature restaurants and bars, Sugar Palm Kids Club . . . "

Golfers or not, the 13th hole has unforgettable 360 degree views; a green that falls off into nothing but sea and sky.   

 Union Island, a short distance south, is well known as a yachting hub.  Just off the jetty and walking to the main strip we saw a rainbow of bright colors; a circle of fruit stands and gift shops surrounding a grounded old boat, whose second lease on life is as an ice cream/snack shop and playground for young and old alike.

 We stayed a mile off Union Island in Palm Island, at the all-inclusive palmislandresort.

An afternoon walking tour of the island (formerly known as Prune Island until owner "Coconut Johny" transformed the place and the name with his ambitious planting) took us through nature trails and hikes up Iguana and Lookout Points,  steep climbs where the views paid off with the effort to reach them.

Our final night we journeyed back to St. Vincent to meet and dine with our SVG rep, Kathique Haynes.  As we pulled up to a long, dark driveway and unassuming place I felt a tinge of disappointment.  That disappointment dissolved the moment we descended down the steep slope and stepped into Driftwood.  What a savvy little surprise!  Simple style with natural decor and an easy elegance whose motto is Eat.Drink.Drift.  That we did. The food was delicious and our company was delightful and informative.  Kathique, like many Vincies we met, was friendly, professional, and a gracious host happy to share a wealth of information about her home country.  Our tour of St. Vincent and the Grenadines was an excellent experience and we are ever grateful to Jennifer at spring-obrien, Kathique and everyone at the SVGTA, and all the wonderful people we met along our way. 

Cindi Blair Productions and Turks and Caicos Productions are thrilled to soon present a sister site with a brand new database of thousands of images from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.  What you see here is just a tiny taste of the many spectacular locations available.  Stay tuned!

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