You recently changed jobs. Can you tell us what you’re up to lately?
Last June, I returned to my Caribbean roots and joined the Silversands Grenada opening team. I am very excited to be working with a great general manager, Christian Langlade. When it comes to openings, hotel renovations and creating independent brands, he is one of the most experienced hoteliers I know. Silversands Grenada is scheduled to open in the spring and I think it is destined to become an instant Caribbean icon.
What’s your favorite part of the resort?
All the rooms are spacious and contemporary with a seating area, a terrace and roomy bathrooms that have double sinks and separate rain shower and bathtub. My favorite room type has to be the four-bedroom Beachfront Villa — the design elements really are spectacular and the layout is very smart. The four master bedrooms are located in each corner of the villa with en-suite bathrooms. The two bedrooms in the front have direct access and views of the villa’s large private pool and the beach, while the two bedrooms in the back have a private patio each with an outdoor shower and a plunge pool. And of course, the main swimming pool in the hotel is remarkable. It actually is 330 feet long; it starts by the lobby of the hotel and goes all the way out to the beach. Besides the beautiful design, I like that it will never feel crowded and our guests will have plenty of space to enjoy themselves.
What has surprised you about Grenada?
On my very first visit, as I was going through passport control, the immigration officer scanned my passport and said, “Oh, is this your first time to Grenada?” After I said yes, he answered, “Thank you for visiting Grenada, we are very happy you are here.” The travel industry has taken me many places around the world and passport control always feels procedural and cold; this was different. He was genuinely happy I was there. On all my trips back to the island, every interaction with a resident has been the same positive experience. In Grenada, you feel welcome, you do not feel like a visitor — they make you feel like you belong there.
Seen above are the living and dining areas of a Beachfront Villa
Any recommendations in Grenada where you can “dine like a local?”
The food is really good in Grenada … This has a lot to do with how fresh the ingredients are; the ground is very fertile in Grenada and they grow everything. The island is one of the top producers of nutmeg in the world, but the agricultural offerings go well beyond nutmeg; world-class cocoa, cinnamon, honey and an entire array of locally grown fruits and vegetables are readily available on the island.
Directly next to us, on Grand Anse Beach, is a local restaurant called Coconut Beach Restaurant. It has been there for over 20 years, and its owners, Scratch and Ms. Pat, are the most gracious hosts you will ever find. They specialize in fresh seafood, and one of their side dishes, Breadfruit Pie, is just dreamy.
How many air miles do you usually add up in one year?
In the last five years, I have been averaging about 100,000 per year. Each 500 miles is about one flying hour, so that means that on average I spend about 8.3 full days a year inside a plane. Some advice to new travelers: pick an airline alliance and stick to it. Once you achieve status with any of the airline alliances, the perks make the flying experience much more pleasurable and it adds value. By the time the airlines started charging for checked luggage, I already had frequent flyer status, and to this day, I still have not had to pay for any checked luggage within my airline alliance.
Rendering of the main level pool and terrace of a Hillside Villa
What’s your favorite part about visiting with luxury travel advisors?
Without question, my favorite part about visiting with luxury travel advisors is their wealth of knowledge and how willing they are to share it. Any time I visit with a luxury travel advisor I walk away with new knowledge about the world. Besides presenting my hotel, I always ask them about their own trips and new travel trends and without fail they teach me something new. I also always ask them how they feel about how we are presenting our hotel, they are face-to-face with the consumer and they can really teach us how to properly present our product — they know how to sell.
When you’re not on the road, where are you and what’s your favorite part about being there?
When I am not on the road, I am in our house in Miami with my partner and what we like to refer to as “The K9 Faction” of the family. As exciting as being on the road can be, nothing replaces the feeling of walking through the front door of your house after a trip. Some of the best weekends I have had, have been spent on top of a 22-foot ladder, chain-saw in hand, trimming the trees in our backyard. It is hard work but pretty satisfying to see the finished product.
Rendering of the main restaurant at Silversands Grenada
We know from social media you’re a dog owner with some very cute dogs. What are some of the challenges of owning a dog? What’s the best part?
I like to joke that I don’t own dogs — I work for them. They really are wonderful beings that can fill your life with joy. We have four rescued dogs, Mario, Josefina (that’s my girl and she is in charge), Elmutte and our little 160-pound puppy named Rigo. The biggest challenge is how to take care of them when we travel. We are very lucky as we have a neighbor who retired from the hotel industry and she has established a dog-sitting service; she comes into your house and feeds them. Our rule is that if we both will be gone for more than three days then we have friends who come and stay in the house with them.
By far, the best part about having dogs is their greeting when you come home from a trip (even a trip to the corner store) — the level of joy is just contagious. Rigo has established an after-trip greeting routine. He will wait until I get settled and watch for me to lie on the couch. He will watch for a while, suddenly he gets an outburst of emotion, jumps on the couch, lays his head on my chest and stares at me. He just stares and I giggle, and that’s when I know: I am home.
iPhone or Android?
iPhone but with a physical keyboard very similar to a Blackberry keyboard — it is ideal for those of us who never got used to typing without keyboards, it is called Typo Keyboard.
The American Airlines app I use to basically organize all my travel. The Living Earth app is fantastic as it shows you the time and weather wherever you go in the world and I use it as my alarm clock. And my White Noise app, it is great to block any noise around you.
Any personal news you would like to share?
I don’t really have any personal news but I want to thank the luxury travel advisor community for all these years of support and I sincerely look forward to welcoming you all to Silversands Grenada.