Canouan, St. Vincent and the Grenadines (CNN) — Landing on Canouan feels a bit like what people describe as “discovering” a place, one of the holy grails of travel.
Part of it may be the empty airport that makes you feel you’re the first tourist ever to visit the small island in the Caribbean nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Or it could be the expanse of untouched verdant land and miles of white sand beaches set against crystal-clear water that has a very specific removed-from-the-world kind of charm, yet is only a short jaunt away from Barbados.
Perhaps this is how the Rockefellers felt when they first came to St. Barths — that they’d found a place so beautiful that they had to rush and tell all their friends? Three years ago, Canouan, a five-square-mile island with more tortoises than residents, was pronounced by Bloomberg as the place where billionaires go to escape millionaires.
That was even before the Mandarin Oriental rebranded the recently constructed Pink Sands Club in mid-2018 and became one of the most expensive resorts per night in the entire Caribbean.
(Rooms start at $1,300 and the rate rarely dips). And if that doesn’t give you a sense of the clientele coming to the island, consider that the Mandarin owns their own jet, which the majority of guests charter for $7,500 to take them to and from Barbados, the main hub.
The suite-only property — the smallest rooms are 1,200 square feet, complete with a living room that closes off from the bedroom — is decked, head to toe, in white Italian marble, an aesthetic that is more reminiscent of an Italian villa in Portofino, but somehow works well in the Grenadines.
The rooms are easily some of the nicest in the entire region. The Mandarin sits on the 1,200-acre Grenadine Estate, a complex that developer and owner Andrea Pignataro is trying to make into the next “it” destination in the Caribbean.