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Canouan Island | Best Caribbean Island For a Luxury Vacation

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The Private Luxury of Canouan Island

Photos courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Canouan

Mandarin Oriental Canouan

Mention of the obscure Caribbean island often brings blank stares; Canouan Island’s affluent fans prefer to keep it that way.

If the ultimate luxury is an uncrowded space (think first class airline pods, roped-off VIP club lounges and private screening rooms) then Canouan Island is a luxury-seeker’s paradise. Never on this mere 3.2 square mile island located in St. Vincent and The Grenadines will one find 7am chaise lounge savers. Body surfers can glide solo on each white-crested wave. Golfers will never feel the rush of a following foursome on the island’s idyllic, vista rich course. And baby sea turtles might be the only life encountered during a beach walk. On Canouan, there is room to breathe and unencumbered space to simply ‘be.’

Mention of the obscure Caribbean island often brings blank stares, except from those in-the-know; its affluent fans prefer to keep it that way. The tiny British Commonwealth isle is known as “the place where billionaires go to escape the millionaires,” a tag line validated by the line-up of luxury jets parked along its small airport tarmac, and by the numerous super yachts moored in its marina. The remote, somewhat arduous-to-reach location means that visiting A-listers and industry titans, who favor its private villas and its sumptuous Mandarin Oriental resort, need not worry about stalking paparazzi or gossipy influencers. 

Photo by Ben Miller

Meaning ‘island of turtles,’ Canouan is aptly named, as turtles do seem to outnumber humans within this tropical paradise. Surrounded by Barbados, St. Lucia and Grenada, the isle is anchored by the Mandarin Oriental and its 26 Italianate suites (four of which are expansive and family-friendly with two bedrooms) and 13 varied-in-décor villas, all of which are poised towards eastern sunrise views and the expansive Godahl Beach. The resort’s soothing neutral hues are punctuated by the resort’s signature pink, which pairs perfectly with the surrounding turquoise water to imbue a true Caribbean vibe. 

Even when at full capacity, the resort feels spacious, thanks to generous communal areas and three white sand beaches, all of which allow for the solitude so greatly valued by its clientele. A collection of restaurants offers a variety of culinary options in settings that showcase the stunning ocean vistas. 

A Balinese-inspired state-of-the-art spa features 12 individual treatment ‘huts’ situated high within the hillside and connected by an intricate wooden walkway. A large infinity pool overlooks the ocean. A water sports center features Hobie cats, windsurfers and kayaks, and a championship Fazio-designed golf course, rated #2 in all of the Caribbean, is the only 18-hole course in St. Vincent and The Grenadines. 

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Mandarin Oriental Canouan

Even non-golfers will want to reserve a tee-time, simply to traverse the course via golf cart in order to take advantage of the island’s most panoramic vistas. The back nine in particular affords both stunning Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean views. 

All of this is overseen by a staff whose every desire is to make travel dreams come true. Each suite and villa comes attended by a personal butler, available to arrange itineraries, schedule transfers, procure a favorite beverage or food item, and even pack and unpack. These personal concierges are able to curate and choreograph the idyllic vacation—working in concert with each other to ensure that each of the resort’s varied venues is never swarmed, such as neighboring Shell Beach with its calm water bay, and a bartender whose Rum Punch packs just that. 

Private beach club and restaurant L’Ance Guyac, on the Caribbean side, features palm frond beach huts and al fresco dining and is the perfect spot to watch the setting sun. Even the private SoHo Beach House Canouan welcomes Mandarin Oriental guests for cocktails and dinner, providing yet another swank venue at which to relax and rejuvenate.

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Mandarin Oriental Canouan

Mandarin Oriental’s beach attendants stand ready to provide paddleboard instruction, kayak tours, and inflatable dinghy forays to the best snorkeling reefs. Each is ready for a soccer scrimmage in the sand, a competitive ping pong match, or a game of Jenga. 

Guests can find a stash of various games at the resort’s Turtles Bar, a favored venue during the island’s very few rainy days due to its two large television screens tuned to popular sporting events. Here, guests can also take part in a signature Rum & Chocolate Tasting. It’s always more fun to sample a wine or spirit at its source. Just as a lush Brunello is made even more delicious when enjoyed overlooking the sun-dappled vineyards of Tuscany’s Montalcino, rum, which is recorded to have originated on Barbados in the mid 17th century, is at its best when imbibed along the shores of a Caribbean beach. With their similar origins—both cacao trees and sugar cane grow in warm, humid regions, normally close to the equator—rum and chocolate make a perfect pairing. And when sampled together, the effect is more than intoxicating. 

Mandarin Oriental Canouan

Finally, for the ultimate Mandarin Oriental Canouan getaway, guests can take advantage of the resort’s private plane charter service from Barbados. The resort can schedule a private pick-up and drop-off on its chartered, six seat Cessna Citation, the experience of which makes every guest feel like an A-lister. 

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