When the owner is a former Prada consultant and the interior designer’s back catalogue features Armani’s villa, you just know that Laluna hotel in Grenada will offer something special. And it does – pool-equipped Balinese cottages with a minimalist focus on the functional – big, floaty four-posters that look every bit as enticing as the clear turquoise waters of the Caribbean.
Get this when you book through us:
Two one-hour, full-body Balinese massages (one per person)
11am; check-in, 3pm. Both are flexible, based upon availability.
Double rooms from £508.95 ($696), including tax at 20 per cent.
Rates exclude breakfast (US$25).
Grab some of Laluna’s snorkelling gear and take to the waves – the undersea spectacle in these diamond-clear waters is unmissable. Want to arrive in style? Book Laluna's VIP transfer and you'll be whisked away from the airport on a luxury golf cart, fed fresh fruit and rum punch, fast-tracked through immigration and customs, and your luggage will be taken care of.
At the hotel
Pool, spa and yoga centre, gym, library, DVD selection, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: TV, iPod dock, minibar, Bellora bedlinen, monk-made Italian toiletries.
Our favourite rooms
High on the hill, cottages 11 and 12 afford spectacular views of the crystal waters of the bay below. Lower down, Laluna’s beachfront cottage is just 40 feet from the water’s edge, meaning that you can start each day by sauntering from your floaty-draped four-poster bed to the sea. All cottages come with plunge pools on their veranda.
Right down by the beach, Laluna’s square main pool is winged by lounger-adorned wooden decking, upon which you can relax with a good book, an ocean view, and a chilled glass of prosecco from the shaded open-air bar. Each room has a private plunge pool.
The Sanctuary spa has two Balinese masseuses and offers Hatha, Vinyasa, Kundalini and Yin yoga sessions. Choose from a range of traditional Indonesian massages, beautifying facials and pampering pedicures.
Insect repellent – mosquitoes can be an issue. Take a kite along to blustery, buffety Bathway Beach to the northeast and try your luck wrestling with the winds.
Smoking is allowed throughout.
Over-12s are welcome, but pay the full adult rate.
Laluna is closely involved with Grenada’s turtle conservation programmes, as well as beach clean-up operations.
Secure a table for two in the corner nearest the pool and the ocean, where you can feel as though you’ve got the whole place to yourselves.
Star-spangled glamour: an assortment of A-listers have holidayed here.
A hand-crafted woven palm roof caps the open-air dining area, propped up with rough-hewn tree-trunk beams. The hotel’s Calabrian owner imports fresh food and wine from Italy, meaning there’s always olives, pasta, prosciutto and the like available.
Shaded by a thatched roof, the Sunset Bar by the beach is a chilled Balinese living room affair, with day beds aplenty and sofas galore. Its predominantly Italian wine list is impressively extensive.
The restaurant’s open throughout the day until 10pm; the bar until 11pm.
For an extra charge, snacks, drinks and meals can be brought to your cottage from 8am until 9pm.
The main airport is Maurice Bishop International Airport, to the south of the hotel. Fly there directly from London Gatwick with Virgin Atlantic or via Antigua with British Airways. Delta and Caribbean Airlines have flights from New York to Grenada on Wednesdays and Saturdays. JetBlue flies direct from major US cities, and American Airlines flies direct from Miami. The airport also has short-haul services from other Caribbean islands. A pre-booked taxi can be arranged with the hotel for US$39 each way for up to two guests. For US$139 a person each way, guests can choose a VIP fast track option; a golf cart will whisk them from the plane to a private, fast-track immigration area and a lounge with light refreshment, and then a waiting taxi will transport them to the resort.
There are limited rental desks at the airport, but Avis will arrange to bring some wheels to the terminal if you want to hire a car. The hotel is only a short drive northwards, reached via the road to St George.
Sailors can choose from several marinas on the island – Martin’s Marina in L’Anse Aux Epines and the Grenada Yacht Club in St George are the closest to Laluna.
Worth getting out of bed for
Strike out for the Grand Etang National Park in St Andrew and trek through the Grenadian rainforest to the Seven Sister Waterfalls, a series of seven grab-the-camera beautiful falls, with huge pools to bask in. Laluna can arrange a picnic and guide to see you through the three-hour yomp. Non-jungle lovers have the option of diving, golfing, snorkelling, kayaking or fishing around Morne Rouge’s peaceful beaches.
If you’re after a change from Laluna’s Italian menu, you can titillate your taste buds with local West Indian fare atLa Belle Creole at Grand Anse’s Blue Horizon’s resort, or freshly made sushi and sashimi at Carib Sushi in the Marquis Complex. The late, great Gary Rhodes opened a popular outpost here – Rhodes Restaurant – at the Calabash Hotel in St George’s, which serves predictably palatable seafood, including swordfish and barracuda.
For lighter bites (including sublime curried conch and nutmeg ice-cream), try the Nutmeg café (+1 473 440 2539) overlooking the harbour in St George’s.
Mrs Smith and I have a thing about small hotels, having long since fallen out of love with all those enormous resorts, with their Wednesday night buffets and inevitable queues for reception. Hotels, for us, have to provide intimacy as well as character, and we are always on the lookout for originality.
As regular visitors to Grenada, we’re keen to see whether this 16-cottage retreat lives up to its excellent reputation. The journey there doesn’t bode well. As we bump our way along a potholed track, I can’t help but think that Laluna seems to be hiding itself from all but the most determined visitors. However, when we finally turn into Morne Rouge Bay, and find ourselves driving through colourful cabanas sitting on a sea-facing hillside, I silently give thanks that this road will have deterred the tourist hordes.
On first sight, Laluna, situated in a cove surrounded by high cliffs, certainly looks the part. With its dark-wood decks and Asian-influenced furniture, and a soothing colour palette of mottled ochres and muddy blues, it ticks all the right boxes. So far, so upmarket boutique hotel. But it’s a laid-back Caribbean vibe that sets it apart. We’ve arrived at lunchtime and because our room isn’t ready, we’re relieved of our bags and ushered straight into the restaurant. Here we’re handed menus that perfectly encapsulate Laluna’s effortless cool. No more than a folded piece of corrugated cardboard containing a two-page list held together by a length of string, the menu couldn’t be simpler – but still it achieves design class and confident sophistication.
This mood continues in the hotel’s simple layout: a central, open courtyard edged by a dining room, open bar and discreet reception area. There’s an infinity pool in the middle and a beach on the fourth side. The 16 rooms stack up the hillside behind reception; they’re only seconds away, but you’d never notice them unless you looked up. It is neat, clever and intimate, and you never, for a second, feel as though you’re in a resort – or a hotel for that matter.
In the restaurant, the fare is simple Italian (the chef is Calabrian) – pasta, pizza and fish of the day, plus some regional standards. I start with prosciutto and melon, and follow it with a pumpkin and asparagus pizza. Mrs Smith opts for the gazpacho and pappardelle with mushrooms. We wash it down with deliciously chilled bottles of Italian rosé and San Pellegrino. We could have been in Tuscany but for the sparkling Caribbean Sea barely 10 yards away.
By the time Mrs Smith is mopping up the last of her sauce, our cabana is ready. After a 30-second check-in, we’re given our key and asked if we want to be shown to the room or find our own way there. Given that it is barely 15 yards away and visible from reception, we choose to strike out on our own. This kind of service – casual and laissez-faire, but clearly intended for people who want to do things their way – is typical of Laluna. ‘The bar’s there, you don’t need to book the restaurant, the beach towels are there, the sea is there, suit yourself,’ we are told by staff.
The concrete cabanas, topped with wooden-tiled roofs, may have all been constructed in the same way, but they’re decorated individually. Painted in an imaginatively conceived range of washed-out colours, with decks dotted with teak day beds, giant beanbags, canvas awnings and plunge pools, they sit at least 15 yards apart from each other. Screens of mature foliage guarantee privacy.
Inside, the cabins are dark and cool, with welcoming king-size four-posters, polished concrete floors and textured walls. Once again, every stick of furniture, from the cushion-strewn bench seat to the minimal bathroom fittings, feels individually sourced and completely at home in its eclectic setting. Nothing feels mass-produced or formulaic. We kick back and chill for half an hour before heading to the beach for a late-afternoon swim.
Sitting on our deck before we head down the hill to dinner, we watch what we soon discover is Laluna’s nightly light show. Sunset over the Caribbean is followed by the illumination of a thousand tiny lights across the hotel grounds, greeting the rising of the moon that gives the hotel its name. The plethora of carefully positioned wall lamps, hidden spots, candles and lanterns casts a visual spell that reinvents every area as a sophisticated and magical nocturnal space.
It’s an apt metaphor: Laluna is a shining light amid the dull lustre of the Caribbean’s many mega resorts. The staff are friendly but unintrusive, the facilities completely wonderful. If you want to relax and combine the beauty of the region with a little southern European sophistication, you’ll love it. We came looking for style and character, and found it in spades.