The September 2004 landfall of Hurricane Ivan has been somewhat forgotten by much of the public, perhaps due to the simply larger numbers -- of both lives lost and money needed -- in the wake of the tsunami destruction in south Asia. The good news for travelers to the West Indies, though, is that Grenada, which was hit the hardest by Ivan, recently restored critical utilities such as electricity, phone and water to the major tourist areas. Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines were particularly affected by Ivan -- thousands were left homeless -- but Grenada suffered the most damage, in particular to its schools, health clinics and 90 percent of its homes. The World Bank pledged $20 million to support recovery efforts, which began almost immediately. Grenada is slowly getting back to normal -- some of the more historic buildings will take longer time to renovate properly -- but some new businesses have popped up, festivals are planned, and renovations continue.
This "Isle of Spice" is replete with nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and vanilla aromas, and reforestation efforts are underway to replace the nutmeg, cocoa and banana trees that were decimated. About sixty percent of hotels are up and running; the two that were hit hardest, Coyaba Beach Resort and Spice Island Beach Resort, should be back to business by December, according to a representative from the Grenada Board of Tourism. One warning though: telephone service, although it has resumed, can be a bit inconsistent. This reporter repeatedly had trouble getting through to Grenada on some local and toll-free numbers, even with international operator assistance. Therefore, we've included e-mail addresses, where available.
A good place to start for the latest official news on the state of affairs in Grenada, as well as deals, special events and other promotions is the Grenada Board of Tourism (tel. 800/927-9554; www.grenadagrenadines.com). About a dozen hotels are offering weekend rates from $80-$300 and weekly rates from $180-$1,200 in a promotion valid through December 2005 called "The Spice Lives." The site also lists a handful of restaurants, scuba diving outfitters, and other resorts -- with links -- that are also offering various promotions. Search carefully and ask lots of questions, as some of the offers have expired, but at least you have a decent starting point.
One family-friendly option advertised on the board's site is True Blue Bay Resort (tel. 473/443-8783; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; www.truebluebay.com) is that kids under 12 stay and eat for free when booked in any room with their parents. The offer is good through the end of July. However, the resort is making three promotions available exclusively to Frommer's readers if you mention Frommers.com upon reservation. They will offer the aforementioned family special between September 1 and December 15, 2005. They are also making a "couples special" available. Any couples that book for seven days will receive one free meal with wine at their Waterfront True Blue Restaurant. Finally, the last incentive exclusive to Frommer's is a ten percent discount off rack rates for bookings of seven or more days. The year-old True Blue villas are the latest addition to the resort. Each has a private plunge pool, two bedrooms and bathrooms, and a fully equipped kitchen. The villas sleep up to four and the rack rate is $280 through December 15. For regular rooms, the rates range from $120 per night for treetop suite or bay view room to $130 for the waterfront apartment. Since Ivan, the resort has made some improvements -- in particular, the outdoor bar, an expanded restaurant, and wireless Internet access.
A link from the tourism site takes you to a company called Lumbadive (tel. 473/443-8566; www.lumbadive.com) in the island Carriacou. They're running a well-priced diving/hotel package at the Grand View Hotel, for $575 per person. The package includes seven days/six nights, continental breakfast, two free dives and ten dives, complete with rental equipment. The company is an official Beuchat diving center (www.beuchatdiving.com), a well-regarded diving equipment outfitter, and Lumbadive specializes in small groups and personal attention. All rooms have a private bathroom, television, air conditioning, and a terrace.
Blue Horizons Garden Resort (tel. 473/444-4316; e-mail: email@example.com; www.grenadabluehorizons.com) just reopened following a major refurbishment that cost 1.5 million, fixing some water damage and roof damage and a complete cosmetic overhaul. The resort is located five miles from the capital, St. George's, and everyone of the 32 cottages have been repainted, and the rooms sport new furniture and a new paint job, and the suites have new kitchen appliances, tile floors, and the bathrooms have energy-saving toilets and solar heaters instead of water heaters; this is an eco-tourist resort, after all. There are a few packages they're running, including a Romance/Honeymoon Vacation deal for $612, good through December 15, 2005. It includes eight days/seven nights in a deluxe, one-bedroom suite with a kitchenette, air conditioning, daily breakfast, scuba diving lesson, dinner, a "romance" tour that takes you up close to the island's medicinal spices and herbs and a "honeymoon kit" with Grenadian love tea, honeymoon rum, and other amenities. The regular rates, however, are reasonable, considering the proximity to the beach and the improvements made. From July 15 through December 15, a superior studio based on double is just $125; a deluxe suite, at $135, nets you more square footage and another bed.
Another promotional company, Travel Grenada (tel. 888/208-9572; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; www.travelgrenada.com) lists packages, travel tips, news, weather, car rental, restaurants and bars, a little bit of history and some local recipes, too. In other words, it is a comprehensive resource for those traveling to Grenada. They're offering a luxury villa and jeep rental -- the ocean-view villa for seven nights and the Jeep for six days -- from $700 per person. The deal includes transportation to and from the hotel. It's not easy, though, to comparison shop here; you fill out an automated form online with the dates you want to travel and they'll contact you. Or you can try phone or email. It's useful though, because they provide an extensive list of accommodations, with links to guesthouses, hideaways, villas, apartments, cottages, and resorts, so you can gain a good perspective on what's available. Travel Grenada also advertises a 3-star hotel package, with two weeks in a standard double occupancy room, from $510, a deal that seems too good to be true. Attempts to obtain further information -- deadlines, restrictions, and package details -- were unanswered by deadline.
Grenada's Point Salines International Airport, (tel. 473/444-4101) about seven miles from St. George's, has resumed full operation. From the U.S., U.S. Airways, Air Jamaica and American Eagle airlines service the island, with stops either in Puerto Rico or Trinidad and Tobago. Using Mobissimo (tel. 650/577-2306; www.mobissimo.com) uncovered a round-trip flight being offered by Cheap Tickets (tel. 888/922-8849; www.cheaptickets.com) on Continental is a mere $471 for a late July mid-week departure from Newark. There is only one stop in Port of Spain at Trinidad and Tobago, but the drawback to this fare is the very long layover -- an unmanageable ten hours, unless you are in no rush. As the summer progresses, the rates go up higher, but only by about $100 or so, and then drop down in September.
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