Who wants to be a millionaire? Well, most of us. But most of us aren’t. You can, however, vacation like one at the new Sandals LaSource all-inclusive resort in Grenada. Or so it says in the resort booklet.
That’s not a stretch. The resort opened in April 2014 to rave reviews, a beauty of an all-inclusive resort, luxurious, well-appointed and ideally located close to Maurice Bishop International Airport on the island’s southwestern corner.
I don’t like most cookie-cutter all-inclusive resorts, but Sandals, which also runs Beaches Resorts, does theirs in style. And not terribly expensively, so you don’t have to pony up like a millionaire. Rates start at $329 a night.
I was there for the grand opening bash, which was attended by Butch Stewart, patriarch and chairman of Sandals Resorts, and his CEO son, Adam, and felt like a man rich if not in the wallet, then in experience. LaSource is big at 231 rooms but spread out over three villages that takes the crowded feel away.
Pink Gin Village is in an area that had existed in a former life before Stewart bought the property to renovate and expand. The Italian Village is perched on a cliff overlooking the resort and Pink Gin Beach, an all-new, five-story complex of 48 rooms with two river pools at ground level.
I had a thatched-roof rondoval suite at South Seas Village, and it was pretty posh. There are several categories of rooms here, including the top-tier millionaire suites, along with plunge pool suites and luxury and premium rooms. My suite had the biggest high-def TV I have ever seen, a huge king bed in wooden frame, and a giant soaking tub that sat on a blanket of smooth river rocks.
One cool thing: My outside plunge pool, a good-sized watery escape I could step into from a set of doors that opened above it. The pool and nearby hot tub were lined with iridescent tiles and both glowed at night with changing red, green and blue lights. It was one of the most luxurious rooms I’ve ever seen, and though I didn’t use it, came with butler service, a key feature in this category.
Also cool was thefully stocked bar, top-flight stuff such as Appleton rum, Tanqueray gin, Absolut vodka, Johnnie Walker Black Label and wines from Stone Cellars. It’s all yours, whenever you want it.
As lovely as the rooms are, the draw is the Caribbean sunshine. The beach, while roomy, wasn’t particularly spectacular, not smooth and sandy but more gritty, with black volcanic sand flecked with well-worn shells and coral. There are ample loungers and umbrellas to escape the broiling sun, and two protective rip-rap walls that create smooth swimming inlets. On one wall are hanging scoop chairs to take in the some pretty magnificent sunsets.
Another reason it doesn’t feel crowded: Nine restaurants, all good, one a new signature eatery, Butch’s Chophouse, named after Sandals’ founder, serving grain-fed Midwestern beef. Soy is a sushi bar where service was friendly if not speedy this early in the resort’s start-up phase, but the food was as free flowing as the delicious warm sake. Any place you can get all the octopus sashimi or unagi clam you want is a fine place by me.
Another good option is the Italian-themed Cucina Romana, where in addition to regular pasta, they offered the gluten-free variety, a happy option for those of us with celiac disease. Food here was authentic, the pasta sauce tasting like it was made by my Italian mother. Other possibilities are Spices, especially for breakfast, though with a menu that largely caters to American tastes. Still, they use liberal doses of Grenada’s native spices, including nutmeg, mace, cinnamon, clove and pimento, bringing even mundane American food to island life.
Neptune’s for lunch is a best bet, set on the beach and serving classic Mediterranean Rim cuisine, open to the elements with seating fronting the ocean. The menu is varied and naturally heavy on seafood, but one day I had possibly the best and spiciest jerk chicken ever, washed down with Caribe beer.
If you want to cool in the pool instead of the sea, there are five options, including a beachfront pool with a most unique set up: There is a stone lounge with a fire pit that extends into the center of the pool, a great place to relax with friends. If that’s taken, there are many other fire pits scattered throughout the resort to warm up to.
Red Lane Spa is also here, where for $80, I got a basic but very good massage, oily, aromatic and so relaxing I barely made it back to the beach to nap it off.
Sandals is also known for its “luxury-included amenities,” and here that includes glass-bottom boat rides, a Red Lane fitness center, stand-up paddle boarding, Hobie cat sailing and windsurfing, kayaking, day and night tennis, snorkeling and scuba diving for certified divers.
There are plenty of partying options here as well, including themed cocktail parties, beach bonfires, live music and dancing. And even though the grand-opening bash was a one-of-a-kind event, any regular guest on hand was invited to take part in the massive spread of food, entertainment and a unique presentation by an “earth harp” player who plucked strings that stretched out more than 100 feet over the main pool.
And it has all paid off: At the party, the Stewart father-and-son team went home loaded with industry accolades: Two Six Star Black Diamond Awards from the American Academy of Hospitality Science, for the new resort and Sandals’ Island Routes Caribbean Adventure Tours; two Six Star Green Diamond Awards for environmental practices and the Red Lane Spa; and one Five Star Black Diamond Award for Butch’s Chophouse.
It’s true you don’t have to be rich to vacation like you are. But at Sandals LaSource, you’ll at least feel like a million.
To reserve your stay, visit: www.sandals.com/main/grenada/ls-home