Story and photos by Babbie DeDerian
As a travel writer people always ask me what my favorite place is. After much thought, I realized my favorite place to be is in the moment, with people who touch me deeply and leave indelible imprints in my heart. Sir Royston Hopkin was, and will remain, one of those amazing special people. He and his family embraced me with gracious and elegant hospitality at his beloved Spice Beach Resort when I stayed with them; and sought my advise on the expansion of the spa. We last broke bread at a family dinner when I was in Grenada for the Music Festival.
The below previously published feature is being republished as a tribute to my deep respect and times spent together, including hanging out with him at the airport and flying back to the states together. He will be deeply missed..
Spice Island Beach Resort
Perfection in Paradise
I enter my private garden oasis, lush with plants and flowers, where my own swimming pool and chaise lounges await my pleasure. A few steps lead to an outdoor dining area. To the side, a door unlocks, and I am in a beautifully appointed room with a huge bed and a very large bathroom. I am enveloped in tasteful luxury: from the oversized Jacuzzi bathtub with a rainwater shower head to the double vanities, Italian Frette fluffy white towels and linens, a full bar of bottled spirits and wine … and the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in. And to add to the pleasure of being a guest, lavender mist is sprayed on the pillows at turn-down to ensure a blissful sleep.
Spice Island Beach Resort sits on Grande Anse Beach, one of the most beautiful in the world. This intimate family run boutique property with 64 beach front and garden suites does not run on island time. The staff is caring, dedicated and well trained; what you request, you can count on. Owners, Sir Royston Hopkin and his family, place great emphasis on service received from his human resources… considers and treats his staff as extended family… and believes the experiences his guests take away with them, defines who he is.
Royston Hopkin is a home grown Grenadian entrepreneur and one of the few Caribbean Nationals who own and run their own resort. He has won many awards for his dedication to the hotel industry and received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II in 1995. He tells me, “I grew up with parents who had a persistence for excellence. They had a 12 room hotel, were gorgeous hosts and innovative in introducing Caribbean cuisine to their guests. This hotel is very complex and challenging to run. Forty years ago, there was nowhere else to winter but in the Caribbean; now there are many areas to go to”.
“I can only compete with myself… stay focused on my standards… keep raising the bar, and listen to my guests. I cannot discount to change clients; they are a devoted part of our life. I don’t try to reinvent the wheel, but when I travel, I stay in the best hotels to see the challenges I face to stand out in the crowd and have my guests leave in awe. When they remember where they had such unique services and experiences, they will come back”.
“In looking to the future, when the environment is right, I want to build 30 luxury condos on three acres we own across from the hotel. I have to stay on the cutting edge to find new fresh ideas to do what I am doing better and to keep refining it as the years go by so I can leave a firmly established beautiful and unique resort as my legacy for my children to continue running”.
His two daughters Nerissa and Jonelle, son and daughter-in-law work as a team with their father, mother Betty and General Manager Brian Hardy.
Head Chef Jason Church started as a line cook ten years ago, was sent to England for a month’s training and then worked his way up. He takes great pride in turning local dishes into fine dining. His goal is to be the first executive chef on island. “I still have a lot of building to do; everyday is a challenge; quality and standards have to be maintained at all times. Sir Royston comes into the kitchen everyday and I have to be on top of my game”. 75% of our guests are on full, all inclusive and my menu changes on a 21 day cycle.
Friday Night’s Caribbean Buffet table is laden with unusual salads like pickled banana slices and squash potato salad; chafing dishes are filled with tender lamb, curried beef, local fish and stuffed chicken. Chef fills my special request for curry goat. It is my last night on island and David Edwards New Dimension Steel Band Orchestra heats up the evening.
I chat with a guest from England, here for the 14th time. “When my husband died, Royston sent me an endearing tribute book with a photo of the room in which we always stayed on the cover, and then encouraged me to come back on my own. Hurricane Ivan totally devastated the property, only four years after it was completely refurbished. I was shocked when I saw the photos”. Then Royston phoned to tell me he nearly gave up, but was going to put it back, even better than ever, and he did. “If you want perfection, this is the place to come. Nothing is too much trouble”.
I couldn’t agree with her more.
Royston Hopkin, thank you for keeping your word to all your loyal guests… and for blessing the island of Grenada with your very personable hospitality and one of the best run properties in the Caribbean. You have surpassed your vision in wanting to “mold poetry and modernity into a resort that would perfectly blend into the environment and still offer all the luxuries you would expect from one of the world’s finest resorts”. It was indeed a pleasure to share your world.
For more information: www.spiceislandbeachresort.com
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