Story by Babbie DeDerian
Photos by Babbie DeDerian and LaLuna Resort & Spa

Grenada La Sagesse Beach

PURE GRENADA
Welcomes me into its Embrace

After an efficient computer check- in, my Jet Blue non-stop flight to Grenada takes off from JFK without delay... and as always, the flight attendants  greet me with a “happy to have you onboard” welcome and award winning  service.

It is easy to fall in love with Grenada; it is an island where one feels  special just being here. Smells of spices perfume the air; sounds of  music penetrate the night. Grenada is pure soul; unique with its lush  rain forests, cascading waterfalls, clear blue waters, white sandy  beaches, fragrant nutmeg plantations, and luxury five star resorts... but  what impresses me most is the island”s warm and welcoming people who  love life, work hard to take care of their children, and are proud of  their culture, food and music.

“Music and Beyond”€, a non profit, supports the development of local artists, inspiring them to create original music. With the launch of the first International Pure Grenada Music Festival€, the island set sail on a unique and creative biodegradable future... using music, art and food as a platform to convey the message: “saving the planet is everyone’s responsibility, and  by changing our habits, we can work  together in an artistic way to achieve this goal”. One of the creative  solutions to this issue is the recycling of waste paper and plastic  into reusable art objects locals can use, and visitors can buy: such as  turning glass bottles into red wine glasses and  plastic bottles into  whimsical chandeliers.

The décor, designed and installed by visual artist Malaika  Brooks-Smith-Lowe, and a team of local artists, interacted with space in innovative ways. Bamboo trees were hollowed and fitted with recycled  materials and solar powered lights; large plastic bottles were turned  into colorful octopus shaped chandeliers, and wooden shipping crates  into comfortable love seats where one could sit and pedal to change the colors of lights. Malika tells me: “The Pure Grenada Music Festival  entertains and educates in a purely aesthetic organic way, connecting the people of Grenada in a green project that uses culture to protect  the island’s natural beauty and products”.

The week long festival, held at a variety of venues (with Center Stage at Port Louis) got off to an emotional start by giving local talent an  unprecedented once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compete to play back-up for the stellar line-up of culturally diversified musicians, brought in from around the world,  many Grammy nominees and winners such as:  British Collective, Angelique Kidjo and Estelle. Throughout the day, and into the early morning hours, locals and visitors, young and old,  swayed and gyrated to the pulsating beat of salsa, swing, reggae, jazz,  hip hop and rock.

Nutmeg Princess

Grenada’s Underwater Sculpture Garden

It is common for a sunken ship wreck to serve as an artificial reef, but  rarely strategically placed underwater art? After Hurricane Ivan  ravaged the island’s ecosystem in 2004, British born artist Jason Taylor created an innovative underwater museum to bring the area’s fragile  ecosystem back into balance.  Life size sculptures, spread over an area  of 800 square meters, depict Grenada’s culture and history. Created by a roster of talented artists, they attract a stunning array of marine  life.

Grenada underwater art

Captain Howard takes me out to the reef on a Rigid Inflatable Pontoon boat. I don snorkel gear, jump into the water, and then follow our guide. I swim around the “Nutmeg Princess” (a tribute to the island’s spice  industry), marvel at “Vicissitudes”, a circle of children holding hands  that captures growing up through a lifetime of changes, and then linger  in front of “The Lost Correspondent” (a relic in today’s society)  which depicts a man working on a typewriter; his desk, covered in historical newspaper cuttings, documents Grenada’s involvement with Cuba. Swimming my way through this magical underwater kingdom, I am  humbled by this amazing feat of artistry, social; consciousness and  ecological planning.

Leatherback Turtles come ashore to lay their eggs

One of the rare acts of nature takes place at Levera Beach, on the Northern part of the island, from April through July when female Leatherback  Turtles return to the beach where they were hatched to lay and bury  their eggs. We drive for almost two hours to reach our destination, and  then follow marine biologists down the dark deserted beach for about  half a mile. A huge leatherback (I name Renada) has just .emerged from  the sea, and has begun digging a deep hole. We watch in awe for more  than an hour as she drops 120 eggs (the size of golf balls) into the  hole. The scientists weigh, measure her, and place a tracking mechanism  around one of her fins. Mesmerized, we watch her bury her eggs, using  her back and then front flippers. When she is satisfied the eggs are safe, she rests for awhile, and then turns, slowly dragging herself back to the water. Sadly, I watch her disappear into the sea; knowing only  one of her hatched eggs will survive.

LaLuna tranquility

LaLuna Resort and Spa, a rare Nirvana, rises from the sea and a pristine white sand beach. It is a luxurious, yet unpretentious sanctuary for the senses, a fusion of  Italian shabby chic and Balinese spirituality. Bernardo Bertucci, an  Italian visionary, came to Grenada from a fashion background in New  York. He scoured the coast in a boat; saw potential in a densely  overgrown property, cut a path with a machete, and then spent 10 years  overcoming a myriad of building challenges to prove his instincts,  insights and creative DNA could turn his dream into the personal  paradise he now shares with his wife Wendy, two daughters, a devoted  staff and a maximum of 32 guests.

LaLuna cottages

Sixteen villas cling to the hillside; some tucked away in privacy, others with  sweeping views of the sea; all painted faux shades of red, purple or  blue. My room sits high on the hill; the Interior red stone walls match  the outside of the building; .there’s a round soaking tub and a hand  carved Bali Bed on a deck that is fragrant with flowering  bougainvillea. 

Laluna pool at night

A thatched roof pagoda covers LaLuna’s poolside Sunset Bar; Balinese oversized lounges and hand carved wooden figures pay homage to Indonesian Gods and Goddesses. Dwight, the bartender offers me a slice  of margarita pizza; Chef Marco Sala sends out a warm octopus salad, a  local dish made with beans to give it an Italian twist. It is  succulent, tender and tasty. Dwight refills my glass with prosecco,  sharing his dream of opening a bar in St David where he has a piece of  land.

Laluna asian spa

Those fortunate enough to find their way to LaLuna have the added pleasure of meditation and yoga on the beach, and an authentic Balinese Spa. All  the furniture, carved sculptures and amenities were personally selected  by Bernardo and Wendy, and then shipped back to Grenada in huge  containers. Balinese therapists are here on an exchange visa. Dewi, though small in stature, moves her powerful hands up and down my  vertebrae, arms, and legs... stretching my limbs until they relax in submission. After my energizing massage, I retreat to the relaxation  deck; I am brought a cup of ginger tea to sip. The trees sway in the  gentle breeze; the sea awaits my stress-free body, and I honor her  patience, swimming for hours.

Laluna villa guest room

Bernardo recently completed, and is selling, five LaLuna Estate Villas,  meticulously designed and furnished with top of the line Italian stone,  white furniture and fixtures. Each 5 bedroom, 5 bath villa has a private swimming pool and wrap around terraces with sweeping views of the  Grenadines. Ownership includes a 30 year yacht berth at the Port Louis Marina. He tells me: “LaLuna is my passion; the villas are my business”.

Bernardo and Wendy Bertucci have carved a very personal paradise out of the love they share for each other and Grenada. My too brief stay took me on a  unique organic nurturing journey that re-aligned my thoughts. As I am  leaving Bernardo tells me: “you belong here”, and I thank destiny for  leading me to LaLuna... a treasure beyond my expectations.

Our last night on island, we are Sir Royston Hopkin’s guests at his superb  Spice Island Beach Resort for a memorable dinner. Since my last visit, the dining room, lobby and spa were refurbished. We feast on a delicious rack of lamb and exceptional wines. Sir Royston, elegant as always in a custom made paisley shirt, is a personable gracious host. He has just  returned from New York where he received the Six Star Diamond Award from the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences. 

The “pure essence” of Grenada has inspired me to reflect and act on the urgency and responsibility we all have to protect Mother Nature.

Special thanks to Christine, Renee, the Grenada Tourist Board and Edwin Frank, our knowledgeable and reliable tour guide.

For more info: www. puregrenada.com and www.laluna.com

© July 2016 LuxuryWeb Magazine. All rights reserved.

 

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