There are no TVs or Wi-Fi in the rooms at Palm Island Resort; instead I listen to the rush and swirl of the waves and the breeze rustling the trees. In the downtime between swimming and smoothies I am not fiddling around online. For the first time, in a very long time, I read, reply and file my thoughts.
After a gobsmacking arrival on this gorgeous island, the more I saw of it the more I loved. My room turned out to be a beachfront bungalow scattered with fresh fuchsia flowers. The complimentary minibar included local beer and, crucially for me who is a magnet for mozzies, each room comes with a can of insect repellent. There was also a torch in case of power cuts, as being a private island the resort is run on generators. Rather charmingly the alarm clock on the bedside table showed the wrong time, still flashing after the last power change, it reminded me to stop tracking the time.
Outside my room I had a patio and sun loungers that faced the startling white beach and the true blue waters that had taken my breath away upon arrival. Usefully I also had a knee height water tap by the door, I am usually a terrible one for walking sand around the room. When I left my room on the first morning I stopped dead in my tracks. Overnight I had forgotten how beautiful this place is; it took my breath away all over again.
Palm Island is a 135-acre private resort, which was originally called Prune Island until an American known as ‘Jonny Coconuts’ leased the land and began planting the palms. Anthony from Guest Services found me a pink bike so that I could become better acquainted with it. Cycling past reception the first thing I spotted was the island’s nursery. In neat little rows were the lettuce that would later make up my salad and some mint, which turned up on that evening’s juicy lamb.
The island has two beaches and I found the second of them to be completely deserted. Guests can arrange to have private picnics here if they wish, or you can wander along as I did and enjoy the serenity at any time. Behind one of the island’s two private villas (so popular they are booked back to back for most of the year) is a look out point. For the first time I got a good idea of the layout of the island and it’s position within the Grenadines – Union, Petite Martinique, Carriacou and Canouao were all shadows on the horizon.
If concentrating hard I could also just make out the cluster of 5 uninhabited islands, surrounded by white sails, that make up the Tobago Cays Marine Park. There are several ways you can arrange to see them via the resort, I opted for Yannas the catamaran and spent a full day snorkelling with turtles, stingrays and starfish in emerald coloured waters. We also swung by the island famous for being the one Jack Sparrow (and I think Keira Knightley’s character too) were stranded on a desert island. It looked like a good place to get stuck with Jonny Depp, I must say.
Back at the resort there was a choice of 2 restaurants to satiate my swimming induced appetite. One of the luxuries of staying at Palm Island is that it’s an all-inclusive resort without a mention of the word ‘buffet’. (I’m a terrible buffet diner – mounds of 4 types of carbs never make a good meal!) At Palm there is a small continental spread for breakfast alongside a menu of hot items. Once I tried Chef Baku’s banana pancakes there was no going back. I tended to have my lunch directly on the sand at Sunset Grill where they served a selection of fresh salads and light bites and the evenings were spent at Royal Palm Restaurant choosing from the a la carte menu to a backing track of various live music acts.
There was one buffet night but it was one I wildly embraced. Saturday is Caribbean Night on Palm Island. The steel drums came out and the buffet consisted of items like goat curry and jerk chicken – there was nothing for it but to tuck in and try everything. Yes, even 3 desserts. (I call it ‘research’.)
Adding to the special nature of this resort are the staff, of which there seem to be almost as many as guests. From the groundsmen to barmen, staff send warm greetings to every person they pass. When returning customers reunite with staff they embrace them in a tight hug. Service here is faster than I’ve experienced in other Caribbean resorts and always comes with a little chat too.
The most luxurious thing about Palm Island stems not from the furnishing or trimmings but in the feeling you get by being here. The exclusivity of the beaches, the personal touch and personalities of those that work here and the setting (I mean, just look at it) lets you know that you are somewhere very special. Somewhere I was very, very sad to leave.
To be continued..
The EliteHop is a project by Elite Island Resorts, British Airways Holidays and No 1 Traveller – you can find out more about it here. For more information on prices and availability at Palm Island Resort click here.
Next up I hop back to Antigua for a visit to Galley Bay Resort.