The secret’s out! Discovering the minuscule Caribbean island so breathtaking regular visitors really don’t want you to know about it
- Tiny Palm Island in the Grenadines contains just one hotel – the luxury Palm Island Resort & Spa
- MailOnline Travel’s Katy Winter checked in – and instantly fell in love with it. She describes it as a ‘gem’
- The 135-acre-island can only be reached by speed boat from Union Island – so it’s certainly exclusive
Never before have I been worried about writing a travel review.
But as I sit here about to put down in black and white just how amazing our trip to Palm Island – a tiny private island just off Union Island in the Grenadines – was I have to confess I am a little concerned.
Not, as you might think, because of the intense level of jealousy I received from friends and colleagues, but because the regular guests (many of whom have been in excess of 20 times) are so very protective about keeping this Caribbean gem a secret.
Paradise: Palm Island (pictured) is a tiny private island just off Union Island in the Grenadines
Haven: It didn’t take Katy long to realise why the regular visitors were so upset about the idea of more people knowing about Palm Island
The 135 acre island can only be reached by speed boat from Union Island, which you can see across the bay
In fact, upon discovering that we were there to review the resort, their response was, to put it mildly, a little frosty.
The idea that a global news website would be lifting the lid on their own private piece of heaven, and that more people may soon descend on the resort, genuinely upset them.
They are also fiercely against the island changing, and in fact an announcement that a few more rooms would soon have Wi-Fi and TVs (at present only four out of 43 do!) was met with a resounding boo from the regular guests.
Once you arrive, it is not hard to see why.
What makes it special
This 135-acre-island can only be reached by speed boat from Union Island, and we were greeted on the dock by Katie, the charismatic French manager, and a butler with a welcome cocktail.
The resort not only has seclusion, breathtaking azure waters, white sands and palm trees, but also authentic Caribbean charm
The pace of life of Palm Island is blissfully slow – those looking for a buzzing night-scene will be sorely disappointed
The largest of the five white sand beaches to our left, we were already suitably impressed, and much of our first evening was spent just walking up and down the palm strewn beaches, which quite literally look like a postcard, exclaiming ‘wow’.
The resort not only has privacy, breathtaking azure waters, white sands and palm trees, but it has also managed to hold on to an authentic Caribbean charm and, most importantly, the staff know each and every guest intimately.
When, upon stepping out of our room on our first morning, a member of staff cycled by (there are no cars on the island, guests and staff walk or use one of the free bikes) and greeted us by name we were a little taken a back.
The standard of accommodation is excellent. Pictured is one of the refurbished rooms available
The resort offers myriad swimming options – there are five beaches and a stunning outdoor pool (pictured)
Half of the resort’s rooms and suites are located on the beach, with the rest merely steps away, allowing everyone to enjoy beautiful views of the palm groves or the ocean
The view from Katy’s room each morning when she pulled back the blinds was really something special
When our waitress at breakfast did the same, even more so. We had been on the island less than 18 hours.
However we soon learnt this is part of what makes Palm Island so magical. Staff are friends. Relaxed and informal, yet ever attentive. Cyril, the restaurant manager makes the rounds of every single table, at every single meal, chatting not only about the food but things he remembers you have planned or enjoy.
As creatures of habit, it only took a couple of days for the staff to have our breakfast order memorized (eggs Benedict for him, French toast for me) and everyone knew us by name.
What to do
The clientele of Palm Island – which consists of only rooms and suites and two villas – tend to be on the older side, and we were among the youngest there (children under 16 are only allowed at all during certain months), so is not the place to go if heavy nightlife is your thing.
If you can, don’t miss out on hiking up the two nature trials on the island, says Katy, which reward you with some stunning views
NICE LITTLE TOUCHES
From your mini-bar restocked daily, to in-room insect repellent and a reusable water bottle gifted to every guest – another joy of Palm Island is the attention to detail.
Every evening your turn-down service will leave your room immaculate, your air con as you like it, and local flowers surrounding the towel swan on your bed.
While we were originally worried we wouldn’t find enough to keep us occupied, between the kayaks, paddle boards and hobbycats on the beach and the staff who regularly visit your (blissfully wide and comfy) sunbed or hammock to offer drinks, we found it hard to leave the beach.
It is very much worth exploring the rest of this tiny island though, and we ended up jumping on one of the island bikes each evening and going right round the island (admittedly this only takes about 15 minutes).
Weaving on the dirt roads in-between the palm trees, expect to have your way blocked occasionally by a tortoise or by one of the hundreds of iguanas who inhabit the island, and be sure to stop off at the island’s very own tiny tortoise sanctuary where they care for the babies.
The beaches on the side of the island further from the resort face the Atlantic and while still gorgeous tend not to have many, if any, people on them which is great if you are looking for total solitude. Dramatic views are also on offer from the two mini hills on the island which you can hike up.
Katy got the chance to sample ‘one of the most sumptuously indulgent beauty treatments ever thought up, which starts with an essential oil infused private bath for two, right on the beach’ (pictured)
And relax… this image shows the exterior of the brand new spa, set in the landscaped grounds
If that isn’t enough to keep you occupied, there are incredible boat trips available on the resort’s catamaran, Yannis. We went on two during our stay, one to snorkel with turtles and take in the breath-taking beauty of the Tobago Cays and Mayreau, which unsurprisingly is a protected Marine Park. The other was to the truly extraordinary Île Morpion – a tiny sandbar with a single umbrella on it – that pokes out in the middle of a vast stretch of ocean.
We also got the chance to sample what has to be one of the most sumptuously indulgent beauty treatments ever thought up. The brain child of Palm’s charismatic general manager, Katie, you are treated to a private bath right on the sand, complete with flowers and champagne, before being thoroughly pampered with a full body scrub and massage using a unique blend of essential oils. True bliss.
Food and drink
There are only two restaurants on the island. The Royal Palm restaurant overlooks the beach and is where breakfast and dinner are served a la carte each day.
All the alcohol served is top drawer, writes Katy, and you can ask for spirits by brand. As you would imagine, she adds, rum is a star ingredient and she highly recommends the homemade rum punch
Remote romance: Staff can arrange a private picnic to be served at any of the hammocks across the island
At the Sunset Restaurant, a more laid-back venue, you can dine on the sand or on a cool veranda.
Staff can arrange a private picnic to be served at any of the hammocks dotted around the beaches across the island for those looking for the ultimate private experience.
The food is a real highlight of Palm Island. As well as an extensive buffet you can order anything from the aforementioned traditional eggs Benedict to Caribbean influenced dishes like grapefruit with honey and rum (caramelized with a torch) and plantain pancakes at breakfast.
Dinner sees a daily changing three or four course menu and a choice of wines available as part of the all-inclusive package. You can buy more high end bottles of wine or champagne if you like but we never found the need.
All the alcohol served is top drawer and you can ask for spirits by brand. As you would imagine, rum is a star ingredient and I can highly recommend the homemade rum punch (though be warned it is deceptively potent!).
The best bit?
Regular guests need not, I think, fear the demise of their tiny paradise.
Both the size of Palm Island and its limited number of rooms means it will never become overrun with guests, and even at full capacity, the relaxed attentiveness of the friendly staff means you always feel like the most important person on the island.
And while not a cheap holiday by any means, the all-inclusive nature of Palm means that not only can you totally relax and indulge from the minute you’re off the boat, but it is more affordable than many other private island resorts. And, in this writer’s opinion at least, worth every single penny.
Kuoni (01306 747008 or www.kuoni.co.uk) offers seven nights all-inclusive at Palm Island Resort & Spa in a Palm View Room including flights on Virgin Atlantic from London Gatwick and transfers in resort.
The price for selected departures in May 2019 based on two adults sharing is from £2,899 per person with a saving of up to £1,030 per couple.
To book please quote tour ref: KU9100.
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