Laluna

A minimalist's idea of maximum bliss

Caribe, anyone? Laluna's mod seaside lounge overlooking Portici Bay.     Photo: Layne Kennedy

ON OUR THIRD MORNING IN GRENADA, we roasted the Chicken. Then we did what any sensible traveler in the Caribbean would do: We beelined it back to Laluna, a sublime refuge tucked into a hidden bay on the island's southwest coast, and made straight for the sea. We were ridiculously filthy, splattered with mud from a three-hour mountain-bike ride with Chicken—a wiry, calf-strong Grenadian guide who's such a fanatic cyclist, he'd already pedaled 25 miles before breakfast. (No wonder we beat him up the hills.) Salty but clean, we retired to the private plunge pool on our cottage's wide wooden deck, taking in the uninterrupted view of Portici Bay. Time to debate the next move: Grab a book and sprawl across the teak settee on the veranda, wander down to the open-air lounge for a cold Caribe and a game of backgammon, loll poolside on a chaise, or have a massage? There's only one house rule at this tiny, tony anti-resort: Make yourself at home. After three days, we felt so at home, we thought we were home—that is, if home were a stylish, thatch-roofed cabana notched into a hillside above an empty crescent of Caribbean beach. In our dreams.

The Good Life // Designed in 2001 by Gabriella Giuntoli, the Italian architect for Giorgio Armani's villa on an island off Sicily, Laluna has a pared-down, natural aesthetic: Indonesian teak-chic meets spare Italian elegance. All 16 one- and two-bedroom concrete cottages—painted in cheerful shades of pumpkin, lapis, teal, and plum—are well-appointed but unfussy: Balinese four-poster beds draped with sheer muslin panels, earth-colored floors covered with sea-grass rugs, open-air bathrooms with mod metal fixtures. The same soothing mix of wood, cane, cotton, and thatch prevails in the resort's beachfront courtyard. On one end is the breezy restaurant, where Italian chef Benedetto La Fiura cooks up Carib-Continental dishes like callaloo soup (an island specialty made from dasheen, a tuber with spinachlike leaves, and nutmeg) and mushroom risotto. On the other is the open-air lounge, with a fully stocked bar and comfy Indonesian daybeds with plump throw pillows, and low tables that double as footrests. Between the two is pure R&R: a sleek square pool with a perfect curve of beach beyond.

Jaw Dropper // Swinging the cottage's mahogany-and-glass doors wide open at night and being lulled to sleep by the wind in the bougainvillea and the gentle rolling of waves below.

Sports on-Site // There's no set agenda at Laluna, but there's plenty to do. Guests with sailing experience can take out one of two Hobie Cats, as well as single and double sea kayaks, for the easy cruise to Morne Rouge Bay, the next cove over. There's a small stash of snorkeling equipment available (keep an eye out for yellow-and-black-striped sergeant majors near the rocky points at either end of the beach) and Specialized mountain bikes for tooling around.

Beyond the Sand // Fight the urge to cocoon at Laluna and head inland and upward to Grand Étang Forest Reserve, a 3,800-acre tract of rainforest at 2,350 feet, along the island's jungly spine. We spent a day in the charming company of 64-year-old Telfor Bedeau, known to all as the father of Grenada hiking. He led us on a four-hour ramble around Lake Grand ƒtang, a rogue crater left over from the island's volcanic past, and along an overgrown tunnel of a trail to a series of five waterfalls (popularly, if erroneously, dubbed the Seven Sisters) and up a hidden path to a bonus cascade called Honeymoon Falls (half-day hikes, $20 per person; 473-442-6200). At A&E Tours, Chicken guides half-day, full-day, and multi-day mountain-bike rides along the coast or through the reserve (our three-hour pedal from the harbor capital of St. George's over the serpentine, near-vertical Grenville Vale Road cost $25 per person, including bike rental; 473-435-1444, www.grenadaguide.com/aetours).

The Fine Print // American Eagle (800-433-7300; www.aa.com) flies the two and a half hours to Grenada daily from San Juan, Puerto Rico (round-trip from Chicago, about $785); Air Jamaica (800-523-5585; www.airjamaica.com) flies nonstop from New York's JFK four days a week (about $400). From December 20 to April 13, rates at Laluna (473-439-0001, www.laluna.com) start at $530 per night, double occupancy, including water activities and bikes (the price drops to $290 in summer). A modified meal plan (breakfast and dinner) is $65 per person per day. Henry's Safari Tours can take care of your on-island transportation and guiding needs (473-444-5313, www.spiceisle.com/safari).

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