Call it a week of spice and everything nice.
Canadian travel advisors are experiencing the lush landscapes and world-class hospitality of Grenada – one of the world’s largest producers of nutmeg, mace, cinnamon, ginger and cloves – with Air Canada Vacations (ACV) this week from Nov. 10 to 14.
PAX, exclusively, is tagging along on the immersive trip, which has divided agents into two groups for stays at two plush, all-inclusive properties: the 257-room Sandals Grenada Resort and Spa and the 269-room Royalton Grenada Resort and Spa.
“We wanted to not only showcase Grenada, but to also showcase that travelling, fully vaccinated, is possible,” Judy Munden, area sales manager for Atlantic Canada at ACV, told PAX. “Obviously there are a couple of steps people have to take, but you can travel if you’ve had your shots.”
Dubbed the “Spice Isle,” the hilly main island of Grenada is home to many nutmeg plantations.
Located in the West Indies in the Caribbean Sea at the southern end of the Grenadines island chain, Grenada, beyond the main island, includes two smaller islands called Carriacou and Petite Martinique.
ACV’s FAM, which involves 15 travel advisors from Vancouver, BC, to St. John’s Newfoundland, comes on the heels of Air Canada launching Toronto-Grenada flights, a service that will operate until April 2022.
The twice per week flights – happening on Wednesdays and Sundays – are also accessible via connectors from 55 Canadian gateways.
ACV also continues to offer CareFlexPlus, a plan that provides travellers with greater flexibility by allowing them to change their booking, transfer their package or cancel their reservation with a full refund up until 25 days prior to departure. (For details, click here).
The entry protocols
Health and safety protocols are front and centre on this trip, as masked travel advisors witnessed yesterday upon landing at Maurice Bishop International Airport, where hand sanitizing is widely practiced and on-site PCR testing is conducted.
A pre-arrival 72-hour PCR test, in addition to completing a travel authorization form, is required for entry into Grenada.
And all travellers entering the country must be fully vaccinated (this does not, however, apply to persons 13 years and under).
Tourism businesses receive a Pure Safe Travel Approval, which means providers have been inspected and are COVID ready to serve tourists.
Fully-vaxxed travellers, currently, are required to quarantine for up to 48 hours at their approved accommodation while awaiting the results of a PCR test, which is conducted at the airport.
In the case of Sandals, the testing is done at the property, which is super convenient.
This quarantine policy changes on Monday, Nov. 15, 2021, however.
From that date, arriving visitors are free to explore on arrival after an antigen test taken at the airport returns negative. (The 72-hour pre-arrival PCR test requirement, however, remains).
Chocolate & hotel tours
Beyond COVID protocols, the trip will give agents an on-the-ground look at what exciting wellness, cultural and adventurous experiences await in Grenada.
Today (Nov. 11), attendees at the Royalton will learn how to make “chocolate and spice face masks” with Sheba Augustine of the beauty brand OMI.
The Sandals group will partake in a truffle-making class led by Aaron Sylvester of Tri-Island Chocolate (another major product of Grenada – there are six locally-owned chocolate factories, in addition to chocolate events and festivals!)
The beauty of both of these properties, by the way, is that they are within two kilometres of the airport. The transfer takes less than five minutes.
Friday (Nov. 12) will involve visiting other hotels on the island, including Radisson Grenada, Blue Horizons Garden Resort, Coyaba Beach Resort, Spice Island Beach Resort, Mount Cinnamon Resort and Beach Club and True Blue Bay Resort.
Stay tuned as PAX, next week, will bring you a round-up of the properties, as well as what agents thought of each option.
There will be time for a little exploring too.
On Saturday (Nov. 13), one group will participate in a half-day island tour, visiting the picturesque town of St. George’s, the capital, Fort Frederick, Annadale Waterfall and The Tower in St. Paul’s (where they will try a unique blue tea).
Another group will go on a snorkeling adventure to Grenada’s Underwater Sculpture Park (which, in fact, just completed a major renovation).
Heralded as one of the Top 25 Wonders of the World by National Geographic, this underwater playground, which features 82 life-size sculptures that reflect Grenada’s culture, was envisioned by British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor.
The park is accessible to both snorkelers and divers (and PAX, of course, will have its waterproof GoPro camera rolling to capture all of the under-the-sea action).
One advantage to visiting Grenada, especially in pandemic-era times, is that “you’re not going to find hordes of people here,” Munden pointed out.
“It’s not a big island,” she said. “I love the smallness of this destination, nothing is very far away and the people are very friendly.”
Travel advisor Barbara Scrocco of TravelOnly says that Grenada is "one of my favourite islands."
"Grenada is a hidden gem that beckons one to rediscover this magical island over and over again," she told PAX. "It is a vibrant island with so many activities waiting for our clients to explore."
"I am so grateful to be back on the 'Spice Island' of the Caribbean."
Stay tuned as PAX brings you more exclusive coverage from ACV’s agent FAM trip in Grenada!