“My vision was to meld poetry and modernity into a resort that would perfectly blend into its environment, and still offer all the luxuries you would expect from one of the world’s finest resorts.”
— Sir Royston O Hopkin, KCMG, chairman and managing director, Spice Island Beach Resort
The recent passing of Caribbean colossus Sir Royston Hopkin has left us gutted!
He was a rare human being with a genuine pride for his beloved Caribbean, and of course Grenada, the land of his birth. The consummate host, Sir Royston elevated the narrative around Caribbean luxury and understood the importance of detail! Caribbean Business Report harks back to 2008 and a memorable time spent with Sir Royston and family.
May his spirit soar. He shall be missed.
It could very well be argued that the newly redesigned Spice Island Beach Resort ranks amongst the world’s best, and indeed if you’re one of those obsessed with details, then the Four Diamond Award and listing amongst the elite set of Small Luxury Hotels of the World lends further credence. If, however, you count yourself amongst the discerning style set seldom fazed, but with an irresistible urge to unearth the chink in every armour, we’d more than understand your absolute frustration after an entire week. Life on this 1,600 feet of powder white sand known as Grand Anse Beach is, in a ‘nutmeg’, as good as it gets…
Hurricane Ivan gave sophisticate (think: Duke Ellington) career hotelier Sir Royston Hopkin (Royston made the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List in December 2004) the chance to rebuild. “I took the opportunity,” he shares, “to create the type of resort that would elevate us in the luxury market.” To say that he’s anticipated your every whim is to perhaps state the obvious of a man driven by excellence. His youngest daughter Janelle, who, after studies at the prestigious Glion Hotel School in Switzerland and internship in the UK, has recently returned home, shares this with CBR: “My father doesn’t miss a single detail!” These we later learn are not words to be taken lightly. “I mean, if a staff member misses something it’s a big deal, but with us his children (me, Ryan and Nerissa) it’s inexcusable.”
Sir Royston and his glamorous wife Betty, the Lady Hopkin, take lunch whenever they’re on island at The Sea & Surf Terrace & Bar and Oliver’s Restaurant, to not only experience that which each guest enjoys but to anticipate their needs — a recent discovery was that too much pressure on the dining table could ruin the dining experience. The à la carte menus are changed daily and incorporate local delicacies.
“We present local fare with an international twist,” explains Hopkin. Indeed they do, 24 hours a day, from pumpkin and cream cheese tortellini to lightly cured marlin fillet, seared and served with a salt fish galette.
But we digress — not difficult when a dollop of nutmeg ice cream is about to be added to the most delicious Grenadian organic chocolate gateau (now on sale at Harrods, the chocolate, that is)…There were perhaps times during our recent visit when we placed the unsurpassed excellence of the day-to-day service squarely at the feet of the region’s First Couple of Style, but that would serve only to diminish the magic of watching the symphony led at times by food and beverage supervisor Fabian Mitchell, or the fact that calls to the reception desk are not only answered by the second ring but greeted with a smile that radiates at the other end, or that room service is delivered with such grace that it’s easy to do just that all day long.
The magic of the island meanders seductively throughout the property, and Hopkin has successfully merged the essence of ‘chic Caribbean’ living with our accumulated experiences. “Let’s not forget that we are a sophisticated people who enjoy living well,” he states with absolute candour. He’s spot on! For watch how we relish in the luxury of floating canopy beds featuring a headboard of dried bamboo; Italian frette; open, luxurious bathrooms; whirlpool tubs; double vanities; flat screen televisions; and copious amounts of Molton Brown amenities. It’s imperative, too, that we wake up fully cognisant that we’re in the region and so there are the jaw-dropping Cinnamon and Saffron Suites, Sea Grape Beach Suites — need space? Then reckon on a palatial suite at the water’s edge, all 1,440 square feet of it.
The Royal Collection Pool Suites, comprising Royal Ginger, Royal Mace, Royal Clove and Royal Sage, are straight out of your favourite Caribbean storybook, and if you check in with your soulmate then dreams really do come true, and you’ll have fun exploring the options afforded in this 1,500-square-foot mini-villa complete with a cedar sauna and a 16x20ft swimming pool set in the delicious spice-scented gardens. What takes it over the top are the delicious spice-coloured walls (the colour schemes in the bedrooms, the restaurant and the lobby are tied to the exotic Grenadian spices.
The theme in Oliver’s Restaurant is Mace and the lobby is saffron) to the marble bathroom and the ever-so-quaint container of cloves and nutmeg under the make-up mirror, as well as artwork by Grenadian-based artist Susan Mains. Mmmm…what a great way to embrace tradition with modernity…This was undoubtedly the US$12- million project brief to the highly acclaimed architecture and interior design firm of Kobi Karp Inc of Miami. The team of professionals on the project included the brilliant landscape architecture firm Talma Mills Studios of Barbados that redesigned the eight-acre grounds and created the exterior lighting concept. The resort re-emerged in time for Winter 2005, elegant and luxurious in design with a contemporary Caribbean theme: hardwood furniture produced in the Far East, Italian porcelain tiles, rain showers and faucets are Hansgrohe designed by Philippe Starck while the sanitary ware is by Villeroy and Boch. ‘Fanimation’ brand fans have blades in the shape of leaves.
Dinner under the stars…
Sir Royston not only ordered a classic peach bellini but gave us the background. (Bellinis were first created at Harry’s Bar in Venice.) Needless to say it was our beverage of choice for the rest of our stay. Our menu was specially prepared for us by Executive Chef Mark Banthorpe. There was, too, an absolute delish farine parfait with guava cheese.
Spice Island Beach Resort boasts non-chloride swimming pools solar heating, desalination plants and consumption-reducing energy-saving bulbs. Effective December 15, 2008 Spice Island Beach Resort becomes a non-smoking resort.
The much-coveted Invite
The heavy afternoon rains had caused much consternation. Would the chairman’s cocktail party take place?
The family-owned and -operated Spice Island Beach Resort is run like a luxurious home. The family residence, however, Mace Point Villa, True Blue, is the stuff of Maco destination and high net worth. And you guessed it, where Sir Royston unwinds and Betty, the Lady Hopkin, reigns.
The hotel guests are suitably impressed as they nibble on tasty canapés and sip Champagne. It’s a very comfortable situation with the hosts slipping in and out of groups before finally sitting down to enjoy delightful anecdotes.
Darkness descends slowly, but too quickly for those enjoying the view of the ocean and the shoreline of St George’s in the distance, now replaced by twinkling lights. As we make our way back to the hotel, guests are more appreciative of life at Spice Island Beach Resort and our magnanimous hosts.
Betty, The Lady Hopkin
She’s as fascinating as she is mysterious, and we’ve wanted this one-on-one since 2001 when we watched Betty Hopkin swan into the lobby of Spice Island Beach Resort in dazzling white. A stunning woman, Betty would turn heads in any metropolis where style, sass and ingenuity go hand in hand and the knowledge of making an entrance par for the course. Little wonder that she stopped her husband of more than two decades, Sir Royston Hopkin, dead in his tracks when he first met her at the International Trade Show in Berlin, Germany. The Nevis-born Betty Grell-Hull was spending a year in the United Kingdom honing her skills in tourism at the Bournemouth Institute of Higher Education.
“He wasn’t really my type,” she recalls, “I mean, there he was, larger than life in a suit and just wouldn’t stop talking. He insisted we have coffee and (she smiles at the memory), I almost missed the single train that would take me back to the UK.” The conversation and coffee might not have been the way Betty had envisaged being swept off her feet… but there was, she acknowledges, “something about this encounter…I knew we’d end up together… and that he was the one”. They in fact met up again in New York and at Hopkin’s home in Grenada. “I didn’t recognise him, and he me for that matter…he wasn’t wearing a suit and I (a result of not being able to find a good hairdresser in the UK) had cut off my hair.” Glitch aside, the four-day Carnival jaunt turned into 17 glorious days. The couple got engaged on January 10, tied the knot on February 12, 1983, and have been inseparable since.
Betty, the entrepreneur
Spice Island Beach Resort now boasts two high-end boutiques, both called Gatsby — one caters for ladies; the other, gents. “Everybody is now much more fashion-conscious,” states Lady Hopkin. Indeed they are and both locals and guests enjoy the retail therapy afforded by such labels as La Perla, Gottex and Stuart Weitzman. The men (including Betty’s hubby Royston) can’t buy the shirts quickly enough, and who can blame them when the trendy stripes of Paul & Shark button up so stylishly and the cotton feels so good? Other popular labels are Etro and Bugatchi and Resort One.