Island Getaways: A Philadelphian’s Guide to Vacationing in Grenada

What do you need after two years of COVID? Try a 17-acre, all-inclusive haven where all the decisions are easy.

Pink Gin Beach at Sandals. / Photograph courtesy of Sandals Resorts.

I arrived at the resort feeling like a wilted flower.

The five-minute ride from the airport was a breeze, but the thick humidity, combined with a long morning of traveling (we’d gotten up at 2 a.m. to make our early-morning flight from JFK to Grenada’s Maurice Bishop International Airport), left me weary. My mood lifted in a flash, though, the moment I approached the open-air front desk at Sandals (rooms from $662), where a crisply dressed woman welcomed me with a confident smile and a declaration: “You deserve to be here.”

Now, I’m not implying that I, specifically, deserve anything at all. But balancing parenting and a career during a global pandemic has been challenging, to say the least, and her words felt like a blessing — the permission I needed to compartmentalize the rest and savor three days in this little oasis.

Normally, as a food and travel writer, I would pass on an all-inclusive holiday in favor of an itinerary I could obsessively plan and curate. But here’s the thing: After two years of COVID, I was suffering from what medical pros have named “decision fatigue” — i.e., the state of anxiety and mental overload that hinders the ability to make choices — so this was exactly where I wanted to be. Here, in this 17-acre haven, the decisions were simple. Should we read under a palm-fringed umbrella at Pink Gin beach (an enchanting name for the crescent of white sand surrounding shockingly clear water) or by one of the pools? (Always the beach.) Dine at the steakhouse or the Italian restaurant? Paddleboard or windsurf? It’s all included in your stay.

Annandale Waterfalls. / Photograph by Michael Runkel / Getty images

The lack of any consequential choice was both blissful and energizing. We went snorkeling along the rocky reef to find yellow fish and sculptural coral formations. We buzzed along Grenada’s beautiful coast on a sightseeing-boat excursion. We left the resort for a tour of the island, capping it off with a jump into the Annandale Waterfalls, located about 15 minutes from the capital, St. George’s. Afterward, we ate plates of “oil down” in the Wild Orchid, the open-air restaurant on-site. Grenada is known as the Spice Island for its production of nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon, and its national dish is a spiced stew of breadfruit, callaloo, vegetables and, in this case, salted fish. It paired perfectly with cold Carib lager and views of the 30-foot waterfall surrounded by lush tropical forest.

Back at Sandals, we spent an entire afternoon swimming in the private plunge pool tucked behind pink bougainvillea bushes right outside our suite. We made a reservation at Soy sushi bar for spicy shrimp rolls, and before that, we stopped for a cocktail at the beachfront Neptune’s to take along on a pre-dinner stroll. The toughest decision of the day: piña colada or rum punch?

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Published as “Island Time” in the March 202s issue of Philadelphia magazine.