Inside the luxurious Caribbean suite where Prince Charles has been staying

Claire Irvin
In Grenada for the final leg of their Caribbean tour, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall stayed in Grenada's most sumptuous accommodation: the Cinnamon Suite - andygjohson@outlook.com

On Saturday, the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall touched down in Grenada, the latest stop on their tour of the Caribbean, where the focus was on agriculture, marine life and conservation. Their base? The Cinnamon Suite, the flagship beachfront suite of Spice Island Beach Resort, a luxury family-run boutique hotel that aims for a ‘home from home’ feel. This might be the case for some of the super-rich who spend their winters here, less so for the rest of us mere mortals – either way, the welcome is definitely personable and personal, steeped in both the Hopkins' family history of hospitality and Grenada’s natural warmth, a place where everyone knows your name and uses it, frequently.

For Prince Charles, the family connection runs deeper than that – the Queen came here in 1966 on her first Caribbean tour, Princess Anne has twice been a guest and Prince Harry visited in 2016 (more of this later).

When I stayed earlier this year, the vivid sap green leaves on the almond trees that line the resort pathways were turning scarlet, and the lemon trees lent a citrus note to the nutmeg-infused air. Off a pale stone courtyard, the door to Cinnamon Suite (a villa, really) leads through to a generous hallway and surrounds beyond worthy of their top billing. Measuring 1,440 square feet, this sumptuous suite doesn’t scrimp on space and features a private patio, living room with a well-stocked wet bar and a master bedroom with a floating four-poster bed looking out onto the ocean. It is this kaleidoscopic seascape, and the soft scent of spice on the island breeze, that almost immediately draws you outside again.

The suite opens out onto the butter-yellow sands of Grand Anse beach Credit: DEHOOG

Grand Anse beach, and its gently arching two-mile stretch of vanilla sand (it can take on a silvery hue in twilight, or become a buttery curve of yellow under the midday sun, but this is the self-styled spice island and therefore all analogies must lead back to one) is at once a paradise found and a dreamy place to lose yourself – and Spice Island occupies its prime spot. Sheltered by the bay from the trade winds, populated with coconut palms, shrubs and sea grape trees, and dotted at the far end with hunks of volcanic rock, it has a manicured castaway feel. All life happens here – its shores are lined with verdant hotel resorts, pop-up jerk shacks and a colourful market – and the gentle parade of early morning joggers and blissed out yogis, to the loved up stream of sunset strollers, provides enough on-tap entertainment to render your holiday reading redundant.

Just visible from Cinnamon Suite’s sunbeds are the distant cruise ships, one per day, docked on the furthest tip of the bay. If strolling the beach is your thing, aim for first or last thing to avoid the cruise daytrippers and the rows of retro sunbeds that suddenly blot the entire mid section.

Strolls and sunbathing notwithstanding, retreat back to the suite at some point one must, and one will not find it wanting when it comes to luxury, fresh, contemporary Caribbean style. The décor is minimalist and all the better for it – why would you want to deflect from that view? For our visit as a family of four, the living room was turned into a twin bedroom, which still afforded us generous living space. But if that’s not enough for you, The Cinnamon Suite can be connected to a king-bedded Seagrape Suite. All the expected mod cons are featured, as well as Nespresso Machines, a Bose Entertainment System, and Alexa Voice Remote, but in this world of fuss-free luxury, there is no tricksy turndown nor elaborate towel art. The en suites feature miniature Molton Brown toiletries – a further welcome touch of luxe, though the plastic bottles seem at odds with the hotel’s sustainable ethos, despite the fact they are recycled to a local medical clinic (Spice Island’s environmental efforts elsewhere are commendable and include a three-year solar energy rollout plan, composting, staff training in environmental practice, regular marine conservation funding, and a Green Globe ‘gold’ rating).

Inside, the space is generous and the décor comfortably minimalist Credit: DEHOOG

Cinnamon Suite also boasts two balconies, complete with day bed, sofa and dining table, and a patio with sunbeds and hammock. Future guests would do well to heed caution in negotiating the hammock, and not, as my husband did, attempt an over-ambitious lunge for an extra pillow – there’s a perfectly squishy one attached, for heaven’s sake – thus causing a 180 degree flip, which deposited him mercilessly (and, for the rest of us, hilariously) on the stone sundeck. The patio melds seamlessly into the sand, beyond which sparkle the ever-changing blues and greens of the sea. Thanks mainly to the lush vegetation and the twisted sea grape trees that grow out of the beach like tropical driftwood, there is a tangible connection between suite and island. Even with the doors closed, whether you choose the thrum of the air con or low hum of the ceiling fan to cool the room, the overriding sound is always the gently lapping waves, either lulling you to sleep, or pulling you back into delicious wakefulness.

Unlike the (perhaps in this instance, more aptly named) Royal Suites just across the path, there is no plunge pool, however if the appeal of the turquoise waters ever wanes, there is the resort’s beach-front pool – which is never busy enough to warrant saving a sunbed on your way to breakfast, and with the overall approach to relaxation set at ‘genteel’, who would presume to anyway?

Elsewhere in the resort, despite a $12m refurb in 2013, the hotel bar needs an injection of glamour to take it from its "Duty Free" vibe to one more befitting of a boutique centrepiece, and a core clientele who may be on the mature side, but who are still buzzily sociable – as demonstrated by the jovial atmosphere that accompanies not just the hotel’s frequent live music evenings, but most mealtimes, too.

It was on such an occasion during Prince Harry’s trip in 2013 that hotel owner Sir Royston told him about the avocado ice cream his mother had made the Queen all those years ago –cue a very royal request to try it too, and an urgent charge around the island to find some only just-in-season avocado to make it for Harry, too.

The Cinnamon Suite has just one bedroom, but it can be connected with an adjoining Seagrape Suite for families... or children can just sleep in the living room Credit: DEHOOG

In fact Mrs Hopkin's recipes are still a firm fixture here – her creamy, chestnutty breadnut soup is regularly on the dinner menu and she has inspired many other island favourites on chef Jesson Church’s menus, such as green plantain soup, callaloo and shrimp risotto and crystaphine pie (a texture and taste similar to apple pie). You won’t find the American or British version here though – Spice Island uses only local fresh fruit and vegetables. Sir Royston swears you’ll find an apple or strawberry here. ‘And that goes for strawberry ice cream too!’ (Instead, fear not, you can feast on the likes of breadnut ice cream or soursop sorbet). The hotel’s five-course evening meal may fly in the face of more fashionable and informal restaurant formats, but its commitment to local produce dates way back beyond the latest hospitality trends – Spice Island’s been using the same local farmers for over 30 years, several of whom are organic. The resort also has its own organic garden producing root crops and vegetables including kale, bok choy, lettuce, peppers and fresh mint.

Lunch is a far more modern affair, with an array of international crowd-pleasers customised with a light island touch – robust burgers with local relish and pickles, a daily roti, club sandwich with cajun chicken and crispy plantain. The predictable caesar salad is anything but, its dressing perfectly balanced between creamy and twangy and topped by juicy, meaty prawns. On our first visit 15 years ago, we had deemed this a world-beater – and it has stood the test of time.

Breakfasts are long and languorous, with ever-cheery and chatty service to match. We got into the habit of pre-ordering the apple pancakes the night before; on another visit we’ll do the same with the toast...

The unintrusive strings around both restaurants designed to deter the beady-eyed grackles without compromising the view provide little deterrent to these delightful miniature island blackbirds, but the result is amusing rather than annoying, as they employ ever-more complicated gymnastics to access stray (or scattered) crumbs. Our favourite used a ceiling fan as a morning merry-go-round, to our children’s great excitement.

The Prince of Wales is not the first royal to visit Spice Island Beach Resort: the Queen came here in 1966, and his son, Prince Harry, stayed in 2016 Credit: DEHOOG

Another child pleaser was the kids’ club – not a given in our family. If the Royal grandparents pop their nose in at Nutmeg pod for future ref, they will be bowled over by the sheer enthusiasm of Nicoleah and team. Whether Prince George et al are kids' club refuseniks like our two is a private matter, but when a his ‘n’ hers massage for mum and dad necessitated a visit, Amelie, 10, and Charley, 6, immediately clamoured for more. ‘Well, mummy, we actually have to go back to collect the T-shirts we’ve made,’ Charley told me earnestly.

Oh yes, the massage. The spa, cooly relaxing, featured no fussy foot rituals or cosmic chimes - but a massage that meant business. Brisk, efficient, effective. And a warm welcome.

Did I mention the welcome? As with all the best adventures, despite the prevailing levels of luxury, the overriding memory of Spice Island and its Cinnamon Suite are the people. From the GM to Housekeeping, watersports tutors to beach traders, what you see is, for the most part, what you get from Grenadians, and Spice Island staff have this in spades, too. Here’s hoping Prince Charles had a chance to experience some of that, too.

Prices for the Cinnamon Suite at Spice Island start from $1,541 (£1,159) for single occupancy to $1,916 (£1,462) for a family of four. Visit spiceislandbeachresort.com

Claire Irvin flew to Grenada with Virgin Atlantic (0844 2092 770; virginatlantic.com): return Economy Light seats from £397pp. Meet-and-greet parking at Gatwick Airport costs from £106 for nine days. See holidayextras.com or call 0800 955 5989.

Read the full expert review: Spice Island Beach Resort