Bequia has been an exceptionally fun destination for me to discover. I am now officially infatuated with all of St. Vincent and the Grenadines! This far-flung corner of the Caribbean is the absolute antithesis of the Atlantis/Bahamas touristy experience for which some parts of the Caribbean are known. And this authentic, low-key element is exactly what I love.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines may be the most unspoiled chain of islands and beaches in the entire Caribbean Sea. Each island, and even down to each beach, has it’s own charm and character. Those who know of these charms tend to keep them their own little secrets.
But for those of us who are not the Duke of Caimbridge or Mick Jagger, both regulars on the exclusive SVG Island of Mustique, it takes some doing to uncover the perfect accommodations here. While there are a number of very high end and exclusive properties, there are also a lot of pretty basic B&B’s of which, from the photos anyway, remind me of my first college apartment and not really someplace you’d want to spend a rejuvenating week at the beach. You won’t find any large hotel chains or name brand properties – for better or for worse.
But there are a few hotels that hit a sweet spot; charming, great location, amazing management/service and offer an experience worthy of these special islands – all for under $500 per room per night.
Why consider a “good old fashioned” hotel here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (vs. a villa or other vacation rental)? First and foremost, it’s just plain easy to stay in a hotel. You’ll have service at your fingertips, you won’t have to hit the market or stock up throughout your stay, and the value of a good concierge can’t be understated. (But just wait, because I’ll offer my two cents why villas and vacation rentals are often the way to go in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and in my next post!)
So, here are my top picks for Best Hotels and Resorts on St. Vincent and the surrounding Grenadine islands for under US $500 a night:
Buccament Bay Resort (Kingston, St. Vincent): I’ve included this property because it’s considered to be the nicest hotel on St. Vincent proper. It’s really the only viable option if you want to stay right on St. Vincent. The beach here is man made, which seems kind of weird to me seeing as you’re smack in the middle of the Caribbean surrounded by amazing beaches. But it’s noteworthy in that Buccament Bay Resort’s rooms are modern and well appointed, the pool is very nice and the staff are enthusiastic and being trained on international standards. It appears the property is going through some growing pains as they head towards completion (the property is only about 1/3 completed right now), but certainly a nice option if you’re keen to stay right on St. Vincent Island.
The property looks to be running discounted pricing this season, with prices in the $650 per room range, or $325 per adult sharing (keep in mind this is an all-inclusive rate, which is why it made the cut for this article). Searching for prices for the week of Thanksgiving 2014 yielded rates for the same room more in the $950 per room, or $475 per person, range.
Sugar Reef Hotel (Bequia): With prices per room starting at $160 per night, this is a fantastic option on Bequia Island. There are only eight rooms at the Sugar Reef Hotel, and the beach here is quite private (though all beaches in St. Vincent and the Grenadines are technically public).
You are also only a short taxi ride away from the charming and beautiful Admiralty Bay and Port Elizabeth beaches.
Décor has been given great importance at this property, resulting in a very cool unique vibe to compliment the private, relaxed atmosphere of the hotel and the cafe here has an outstanding reputation (open to non-guests as well.)
As I mentioned before on this blog, I love their very sweet “go or no go” section on their web site. After spending my career working in Africa and selling safari camps of all kinds to international travelers, I understand the critical need to screen guests to ensure that everyone has correct expectations and is a good fit for the property.
While the hotel has recently introduced a “no-guest under 18 policy”, this is a great option for families traveling in a large group as they can rent out the entire French House (pricing varies by season but is very reasonable for exclusive use) which has a small kitchen and other family-friendly amenities. Children are allowed if the French House is booked exclusively.
The Old Fort Historic Estate (Bequia): The Old Fort Historic Estate is a restored plantation structure dating back to 1763 and a great way to experience the lush, tropical surrounding of the island, while also being only a few minutes away from the beach. The hotel provides a shuttle to the beaches from the hotel, leaving between 10:00 – 11:00am and returning between 3:00-4:00pm to the hotel. Individual arrangements can be made depending on other guests needs/schedules. The shuttle takes guests to either Lower Bay or Princess Margaret, which are the nicest swimming beaches on Bequia island. There is also a very reliable taxi service which can be called anytime and costs approximately 10 – 15 US$ for each way. Alternatively one could also rent a vehicle, which is a particularly attractive option with many visitors.
Either way, plan to bring along a large beach bag so you can back snacks, drinks, towels and everything you’ll need for a lovely morning on the beach before heading back to the hotel, or to another local beach restaurant for a late lunch and happy hour.
And with rooms priced from $160 – $280 (including breakfast) in high season, I think The Old Fort Historic Estate is a great deal and a perfect option for a stay on Bequia. (It kind of reminds me of Coqui Coqui before it became the hot spot for everyone to go in Tulum, Mexico.)
Young Island (Private Island): You might want to start by viewing their downloadable brochure, found here.
For some reason I found this to be hilarious, being totally stuck in the 1970’s, but from what I understand is fairly indicative of the property so no false advertising here. But on the flip side, you are assured the property has been around for a long time and as such has well-trained staff and can confidently address the numerous issues that inevitably come up when operating a resort in a wild and untouched location.
I did spot a few reviews on Trip Advisor talking about the activity across the channel from some of the units. There are several restaurants and bars directly across on the water opposing YIR. Several nights each week there is live music that absolutely shatters the quiet until late at night.
But for the most part, this private island offers a relaxing, private beach experience and a great option if you’re looking to be directly on the beach.
You can sneak in under $500 by booking one of the Superior Cottages between April and the Holiday season (starting December 19th).
Tamarind Beach Hotel and Yacht Club (Grand Bay, Canouan Island): The Tamarind Beach Hotel is the “4 star” sister property of the ultra-luxe Canoun Beach club. Ranging from $200 – $400 USD for rooms depending on season and room type, including breakfast, Tamarind Beach Hotel is extremely good value for the region.
If your objective is to do nothing by laze around the beach all day, this may be a good option. Rooms here are not luxurious, but plenty comfortable. The beach staff is attentive in serving drinks and food right on the beach. The beaches here are particularly good, with white sands and clear water, which is good because there is not a pool on the property.
The rooms may be a bit tired and in need of updating. But according to Caribbean tourism authorities, construction of the Argyle International Airport on the island of St. Vincent continues toward the goal of completing the terminal building by July 2014. I wouldn’t be surprised if, which this project is complete, this hotel (and others in the area) may invest in refurbishments resulting in rate increases. So right now might just be the perfect time to check out this private island for yourself.
If you go during the right time of the year, you can stay here for less than $500 per night. Consider going over Thanksgiving week to get the low season rate, right before the high season starts so the weather should be good. Rates range from $400 – $900 US per night per room based on 2 people (breakfast and dinner included)
I would love to hear your thought on this list. Do you agree? Any hotels that you think should be to this “under $500 per night” list?