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Trip Report Trip Report - Grenada - all in my heart again!

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I spent two weeks in Grenada January 24 - February 7, 2010. We travelled as four adults and one child (5 years old) and a baby (approx. 3 months). We flew with Air Canada Vacations from Toronto ON and we stayed at the Flamboyant Hotel and Villa's. We had a sensational time and I am so very sad to have had to leave....this is my trip report (or as much as I can get written before the baby wakes up!!).

We arrived after a uniquely short flight with AC, early. We got through customs in record breaking time and were on our way without issue. Now that is an understatement when I include that we had strollers, baby car seats, kids suitcases, carry on and adult suitcases. This without a hitch is a greater feat than imagined! Air Canada was excellent except no food included - you have to buy their sandwiches etc...and they are only ok - but flight excellent - flight attendants excellent plane great! My son was mesmerized for the full flight by the individual t.v's in the headrests.

Arrived at Flamboyant within AN HOUR of our plane touching down - yes this is the truth!!

Initially we had some issue as our family wanted to be close together in our one bedroom suites so the 5 year old could access all members of the family with ease. Apparently however, our prearranged family arrangements were trumped by another traveller who did not like their room and requested one of ours. I do not begrudge the efforts to make everyone happy but not when we had prearranged specific suites. This problem was rectified and we were back in our suites with connected door on the patio. The view is still one of (if not THE) best I have experienced in the Caribbean.

The one bdroom suite was clean and perfect for our families (see my review on this site of the hotel). The staff were wonderful as to be expected not only at the Flamboyant but in Grenada as we have once again experienced the Grenadian people to be some of the kindest and friendliest in the world.

The first night we ate at the Owl pub and thoroughly enjoyed our house wine and pizza. The setting on the beach is great and we finally felt like we were back in Grenada. The next morning after a good nights sleep (but ohhh my they need to get better pillows!) my parents and my son and I headed out for an early morning beach walk over at Mourne Rouge...the beach is so beautiful and the water was calm - a local man was enjoying a serene sea bath and some women were searching the beach for shells. We do love this beach and would spend more time there when we return it was just a bit difficult to access with a baby and stroller wihtout the car so we did not get as much time here as we would have liked. We were however, intrigued by the beautiful new hotel in the final stages next to Gem. It looks fantastic if not expensive and is supposed to open this month...lovely ocean front rooms with a swim up pool bar that my son loved!!

That day we headed over the the Food Fair and bought our supplies - realizing we did not know of the Spiceland Mall really. We were used to the Food Fair Mall with Ricks Cafe - Ricks still has EXCELLENT cheap cheerful burgers and pizza and ice cream but the Food Fair was somewhat less well stocked than the IGA which we later discovered at Spiceland. But on that first day we got what we needed from Food Fair and we stopped by the wine store at Spice land. Here is a note though - we found that the wine selection at FF not so great but at the IGA it was pleasing so we did not return to the Wine Store....our experience of one of the staff was not glowing...she was well intended but not trained and we had a baby outside waiting in the Taxi and she did not get that - answering the phone after we waited for 15 minutes for her to figure out the computer....never mind - IGA was great for us if not a bit pricey but we realize that is an island issue the Caribbean wide.

Lunch on our patio with stunnign views of the beach and town and a glass of wine and we were well on our way to elation. We hit the pool next which became our go to activity in the afternoon everyday - the 5 year old dictates sometimes....we enjoyed the pool and the plunge pool on the upper deck. People seemed to be happily lounging in the sun on many levels and we felt there was enough shade in the afternoon to protect the fairest travellers in our group...and with Irish / British bloodlines we are talking FAIR SKIN!!

We spent many hours enjoying Grand Anse and the service at Flamboyant is excellent - comfortable beach chairs (oddly better than the strange phenomenon of plastic stringy cheap chairs at beautiful Spice Island - is it actually a technique of keeping away rif raf like myself?? Put out the ugly beach chairs to ward off nosey beach walkers???) great location at the end of the beach so some snorkelling (not great but fun enough) and yet enough beach for my 5 year old to discover the joy of wave surfing and sea fun!

Wednesday we met with Sam from Azars Rental. We had to have a van so our needs were unique. Sam was professional and speedy and we were off in our rental. We tried to head out to Belmont Estate but Lo the Van rental in Grenada....I am a pretty experienced Caribbean driver and I am very hearty...but this VAN.....it had seen rough days and when combined with the winding roads we made it to La Sagesse and never even got close to Belmont - for next time!

But with that I discovered La Sagesse....another Caribbean favorite for me - there is just something so escape / tranquil about this location - lovely beach...we had lots of low lying waves so now my son is thinking about body surfing championships. We had beach chairs for 10EC under trees and my baby slept happily in his beach tent. We made the wise decision to eat lunch at the restaurant and I enjoyed the Greek Salad (Thanks members of TA!) and the Chocolate Mousse - plus for those who imbibe...RUM PUNCH yum!! The setting is beautiful and the service was excellent.

We ate dinner at Savvy's for my Mothers birthday and it was a mixed experience that I will preface by stating that I was shocked at how badly affected tourism on the island appears....they were dramatically less people visiting the island and very very very few Americans - things have been tough and I am guessing that the Americans are staying home in large numbers....therefore there were times that some of the restaurants seemed Ghost like....Savvy's was empty to begin but we dine early at 6:30....it picked up a bit but still quite quiet. So I thoroughly enjoyed my Red Snapper and the Polenta was tasty as were the vegetables. My parents ont he other hand did not get good fish and we all attributed this by the end of our trip to issues relating to poor tourism so how do you purchase fresh food when you may well throw most of it out?? The Cheesecake was fantastic (nutmeg) and the ice cream with home made whipped cream - decadent....

Food - (I will try to make this more succinct as my 3 month old requires my attention - imagine that?)

As mentioned previously we were shocked by the decreased number of tourists. With that some stressors seemed to exist in the restaurant business, so take some of the reviews with that in mind as I do feel it left a strain on the staff - I wonder of whether staff have had to be let go leaving the remaining staff overwhelmed and I recognize the challenge of providing fresh perfect food when you may have ZERO patrons in a night.

Jenny's Place- we went here for drinks and they had great wine and Pina Colada's however, the staff were suprised by our arrival (reservations recommended at all dining locations so that can prepare for you - as per previous statements) and in that our experience at Jenny's Place was strained and with a child we left after our drinks. It is more expensive than I had anticipated and they kitchen was not open at 6:30pm with no ideas from the staff when they could be ready. They do have a great location and the menu looked really appealing.

Coconut Beach - Another great setting but again we did not learn about reservations so we seemed to throw them for a loop. I enjoyed my food - Mahi Mahi grilled in Garlic Butter and the drinks were lovely. The staff was friendly and managed some of our groups complicated orders! As the night moved on they became more busy - the food was affordable but not cheap.

Red Crab - We really enjoyed this meal and all agreed that it makes sense that this place has been around for such a long time! The food was well prepared and felt more high end than some other locations. The service was fantastic and the house wine was enjoyable. Funny spot sort of plunked on the side of the road...but such a lovely tropical setting I give them much credit for being around for so long and continuing to provide quality - not very expensive but not cheap - more of a mid range cost....

Sur La Mer - this experience was the worst on the island and I am sad to say this as I feel the staff tried to make it a positive one but it became unncecessarily complicated and therefore not as good as it could have been. We made reservations for dinner and when we arrived to see the sunset and then enjoy dinner we were given the choice of two different tables in two different rooms for dinner. We chose the prettier room for dinner and were then told it would have to be made up for us so we would have to wait at the table in the strange kind of unattractive room. We agreed ordered our drinks and waited - well I wont get into boring details needless to say the transition from room to room was NOT smooth and everyone became upset and a bit angry including the manager....but she seemed angry at us. The food was average (except for my Conch fritters which I found fabulous) and at that point we were clearly not popular so service was slipping. The sunsets there are fantastic and my only fear for Gem and Sur La Mer is what the impact will be when the new hotel next door is up and running. My Mum reports though that this was the best Pina Colada she has ever had....so my suggestion - go sit at the beach tables drink excellent Pina Coladas watch the sunset and eat endless Conch Fritters!

Belle Creole at Blue Horizons - FANTASTIC - the food was excellent and fresh, the wait staff were so thorough and accommodating and truly personable in that Grenadian way! The location is very pretty among the cottages with the high tall palms and pretty lights....lovely night view of Grand Anse and the mixed non alcoholic drinks were excellent and I heard that the wine was very nice!

AS mentioned previously we ate at La Sagesse which made us very happy... and had my husband not become sick we would have returned in a heartbeat.

True Blue - now this is a complicated review as it was another complicated experience. The location is brilliant - as the sun set the harbour was all light up in the pink glow and the University buildings on the hill looked dazzling. The waitress here worked very hard and was ultra professional. She could easily have worked at the highest end Toronto restaurant - major kudos to her. The tropical salad was lovely and worth noting, and the drinks again rum punch, wine and mixed drinks were nicely made. My son however, ordered a beef burger and was given a ground chicken burger....this was replaced by chicken nuggets but so much time had elapsed that he was virtually asleep and did not eat it - which worked out well as the Marlin that my father and I ordered was tough as rubber and I sent it back (which I never do esp. in Grenada - but it was BAD) they brought me a new Marlin but my father refused - so he ate the Chicken nuggets which were good. My Marlin replacement was average...but it is a tough fish I guess and difficult to make. The rice an peas and vegetables however, were very good so maybe another main course for other people will work. In all of this they removed many parts of our bill so we paid very little but at the same time some of us ate very little. The location is beautiful and I feel they made EVERY effort to fix the troubles and the staff were kind and friendly but maybe no more Marlin on the menu.

La Boulangerie - Wonderful. What else do you say - it is affordable, super fun and the food was extremely yummy - everyone enjoyed their pizzas and I kept planning on getting one but how could I not keep ordering my favorite pasta - the house wine was good and the service is really great! It was in the middle of all the activities and the place was jumping which was heartening compared with some of our meals where we sat alone in the restaurant. I strongly recommend this restaurant and it was happily our choice for our last dinner!!

I ordered room service at the Flamboyant and couldnt believe how lucky we were are the food tasted great - Roti, pizza etc...and was presented beautifully with the breathtaking view from our room!

Ocean Grill - we chose BB Crab Back however, when we arrived at 12:00 for lunch with hungry child and angry baby....the restaurant was not open - a fellow tried to help us but he seemed equally confused as BB Crab Back is supposed to be open at 11:30. The Ocean Grill was very good - the food was standard tasty lunch fare but with a sensational view of the Carenage and off to Grand Anse in the distance. We would return here!

We dined in our room one night as my husband makes a mean spaghetti and again the views!!

To See -
We visited Concord Falls - but that Van was trecherous on those small back roads so that was our last big outing....the falls were great fun for my son and we were reminded how beautiful the lush forests are!

We stopped by Lance Aux Epines to see about a cottage for next year....the beach is lovely with small lapping waves and the manager was very helpful and friendly - plus it had one thing I firmly believe Flamboyant needs to consider - a BBQ area for more on location cooking. The location is very peaceful and looks like a great option for the future! We also decided to drive by LaLuna to see what all the fuss is about - and we do see. The location is lovely although a bit tough to access (or maybe it was just the darn van again!!) great beach, friendly staff and lovely amenties from what we could see! We dream of staying in such a spot!

Our morning on the BBC beach was perfect! It is a great spot and perfect for families...we do hope they get the restaurant at what was once Mahogany Run up and running again!

My husband and father snorkeled with Dive Grenada who on a moments notice took them out for a tour at Flamingo Bay - they report that it was great fun and affordable and the location was very pleasing but it was wise to be with a group for safety.

I feel like in written word it does not seem like much and I know I have missed some things...but the trip was so needed and the people in Grenada are so unique in their ability to stay friendly, helpful, dignified and not at all hardened by the apparent struggles of the hurricanes, recession and obvious decrease in tourism. Word is that Nutmeg crops have still not gotten back to their old abundance and with that employment is down....but still no dramatic spike in crime (which can happen in tough times), no cynicism that is apparent toward tourists and with several meals spent alone in restaurants - we were still treated with kindness and genuine respect. We hope that we were able to return these things as Grenada truly is a gem and as much as I have always said - I don't want the secret to get out and tourist to ruin this place by overrunning it - I have changed my mind....let the secret out - for Grenada's sake, as they deserve to reap benefits of tourists still looking for magical adn tropical paradise but also - let the secret out for it can only have a positive impact on people in general to bask in the glow of such a beautiful people on such a beautiful island in the sun!!
Go and enjoy Grenada!!

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