There seems to be considerable debate as to the relative merits of Laluna and the Calabash. In December 2012 we stayed at both. This review seeks to compare and contrast the two so you can decide which is best for you. For those of you who dislike long reviews or like to know the ending first we preferred the Calabash but there are advantages to them both.
We originally booked Laluna because we liked the stand alone rooms (we were looking for somewhere quiet) and thought it was nearer the diving than the Calabash. When we arrived there we found a big digger working on the road and disturbing the peace. After being woken form a post lunch snooze we discussed this with the owner and he kindly and graciously agreed to refund us the money we had paid in advance. I have to say that he could not have been done more and we are grateful to him for allowing us the chance to move. Nothing said in this review should detract from the fact that he acted like an absolute gentleman.
LOCATION. Laluna is built into a hill overlooking the sea. Effectively this gives a tiered arrangement and each room has beautiful views out to the sea. The Calabash has a number of small blocks built in a horseshoe shape. From Laluna's small beach you have uninterrupted views of the sea. The Calabash's beach is in a bay where a lot of yachts berth so the views are very different. If you want seclusion and isolation then Laluna is for you. The Calabash is directly under the flight path and reasonably close to the airport so, a few times a day you have a short (about 20 seconds) burst of noise.
ROOMS. The Calabash is an all suite resort and the suites are arranged in two story blocks of four. Some of the ground floor suites have whirlpools or even small plunge pools at the back. We like the quiet and initially preferred the idea of Laluna's standalone rooms. In reality we never heard our neighbours at the Calabash.
Lauana's style is Indonesian and the rooms are painted dark in a distressed plaster type finish. We have come across this before and it is fine for a bedroom but is quiet dark if you want to relax in there during the day. The Calabash is more western with whites and pastels and tiled floors. When the heat was too much or it was raining we felt that the Calabash rooms were easier to relax in. When we were staying at Laluna it did rain and we found that subsequently all our cloths smelt damp. They claim to have 'open air bathrooms' but open air is very different from ‘outdoor’. This was not an outdoor shower under the stars but an indoor bathroom open to the elements. I am not sure what the point of this was as it seemed to mean everything got damp when it rained outside. I am sorry to say that we had no hot water at Laluna during our stay (and this was not resolved after it was reported). At the Calabash the bathrooms were definitely cleaner and crisper but maybe slightly less characterful – we had plenty of hot water and lots of clean dry towels.
Laluna claims that each room has an iPod dock but ours just had an old cassette player that reminded me of something from the 80's.
BEACH. The beach at the Calabash was bigger and had a lot of places to sit. We were surprised at Laluna that no one took in the bed covers so when we wanted to lie on the beds after it had rained we had a choice of a wet bed or a hard wooden sun lounger.
RESTAURANT. The reviews of Laluna's restaurants were impressive but we felt unrepresentative. The food was bland and unseasoned. One night I had a crab dish which had so many anchovies (which I normally love) that I was unable to taste anything else. The dynamics of the kitchen were strange and the head chef seemed to spend more time out of the kitchen talking to customers than in it cooking! The Calabash could not have been more different, we did not have one meal that was anything less than great. Some of the food was bordering on historic.
The Calabash has a lunchtime beach restaurant that is separate from the main restaurant and was exceptional. Even if we weren’t staying at the Calabash I would visit just to return to Mark B at the Bash Bar for lunch.
STAFF. I think the staff at Laluna were okay but the staff at the Calabash were exceptional. Many had been with the hotel for ten or even twenty years and were superb ambassadors for the resort.
DIVING. The Calabash has a dive shop on site whereas Launa has an arrangement with a local dive operator who will pick you up from the hotel.
SPA. Both resorts offer spa treatments. We did not have the time to try the spa at Laluna and were put off by the cost of the spa at the Calabash. As a comparison Laluna charges USD 95 for one hour treatment, the Calabash charges USD 150. Spice Island charges USD105 for a 50 minute Swedish massage.
FITNESS. Both resorts have fitness rooms. Laluna's was tiny and from memory had little natural light. The Calabash's was larger with more equipment and lots of light. When we were there the water fountain was not working. If you are a yoga fanatic then Laluna has classes everyday. The Calabash can arrange a class on demand but rather strangely it does not offer regular classes.
EXTRAS. At the Calabash you got a number of little 'freebies' such as a glass of fresh juice on the beach, tea in the afternoon and lovely nibbles at 6:00 in your room. At Laluna you got none.
As you can tell we were very happy with our time at the Calabash and we were pleased that we moved. We are grateful to the management of the Laluna for being so flexible and offering us a refund. If we were in Grenada again then we would have no hesitation in choosing the Calabsah.
Constructively I would say there is room for improvements at the Calabash and would point out the following.
At the Calabash you have a choice of going bed and breakfast, half board or all inclusive. The difference between b&b and half board is USD125 per suite. If both of you have three courses each night then you might spend this but we found that the food was so rich that many people just had two starters and/or shared a desert. In that case the bill was usually less than USD 125. I would therefore suggest the B and B option. In addition there are lots of lovely places to go and eat in Grenada and to eat in the resort every night (even if the food is delicious) is a bit of a shame.
One of the biggest issues that everyone grappled with was being bitten by insects. You will naturally assume it is the mosquitos and will apply your spray in the late afternoon. In fact it is sandflies that come out during the day and you need to apply your spray in the morning. If you ask the reception they will spray your room each morning and evening. Some people got really bad rashes and I wish the hotel us told us all about the sandflies when we arrived.
The WIFI is intermittent at best.
Communication seemed a bit hit and miss. As an example we found out about a Xmas market the evening after it took place. The spa reduced its prices but we found out from another guest. We arrived on a Wednesday and only found out about the managers cocktail as we went to dinner. There was a water aerobics class that we only found out about because we could here it. As I comment below the activities at the Calabash are minimal and seems strange that they are so quiet about the few that do take place.
This is not a resort with huge amounts of activities and many of the guests were retired and maybe like it that way. That said, it would have been lovely if there had been some activities such as a yoga class. Even placing a few games by the bar might be a good idea on those rainy afternoons.
Breakfast at the Calabash is served in the room (you order the day before). In many ways this is quite nice but it does mean that it becomes a bit repetitive, the food is prepared the day before and in the humidity cereals lose their crunchiness and the bakery products are not impressive. It might be good to have daily specials, fresh croissants, home made muesli instead of commercials brands of cereal and the occasional smoothie. We commented on this whilst at the resort and they already have plans to improve this.
This is a long review and many of the points raised maybe minor. We are picky travellers who believe in full feedback. We were particularly keen to do this with the Calbash as we expect to return there sometime in the future. Thank you to everyone at the Calabash for making our stay so good.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- On the Caribbean island of Grenada, known worldwide for its exceptional natural beauty, long white sand beaches and turquoise sea, is the luxury boutique hotel, Calabash. The Calabash Hotel combines five star service and luxury within a relaxed & intimate environment to create the ultimate Caribbean escape. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Calabash Hotel
- Calabash Hotel St Georges
- Calabash Hotel Grenada/Saint George Parish