Given all the bad press that Apartment 9 has had, here's our view of apartment 4 - Morne Maison. We loved it and would hate to think anybody would be put off staying in Morne Rouge because of the problems with a nearby rental property.
The view of the six members of our family was unanimous, that this was our best holiday together ever. Whilst the success of a holiday is not solely down to the accommodation you select, there is no doubt that an otherwise enjoyable stay can be ruined if you get the accommodation wrong. By choosing to stay at Morne Masion we got our holiday off to the best possible start.
In the first instance, the owner, Wanda, was extremely easy to deal with, being both prompt and informative in her answers. We had to change dates once or twice because of difficulties with airlines, but this was dealt with amicably and with understanding by the owners. Payment was easy, information was accurate and reliable, and the occasional personal request (beer in the fridge on arrival) was acceded to without any fuss.
It had taken us over thirty hours door to door to get there, including an overnight stay in London, so we were tired and a bit grumpy on arrival. It didn’t take long to brighten up. The apartment is, as described, about eighty steps from the beach, so we were in the water within twenty minutes of arriving – a great start. Coming back up to the flat, the next stop was a cold Carib on the balcony, just in time for sunset. The view over the bay is delightful and serene, and this is another great plus for Morne Maison. The other aspect that we really valued was the size and layout of the flat. Our group had a range of ages from 11 to 55, meaning that our requirements were varied and that we all needed our private space from time to time. We certainly got that.
The two upstairs bedrooms are very spacious and have en-suite bathrooms. The master bedroom has the view – and a great bed - but the kids thought their room was perfect, too, with far more space than they are used to on family holidays. The downstairs room is smaller, with a bathroom next door, but is very private. Ideal for the twenty-somethings who were with us. The lounge is upstairs and very spacious – so much so that there was one area which we didn’t even use during the entire month of our stay. The kitchen and dining area downstairs is also huge, lots of room for cooking, liming, having a beer, listening to music or whatever, yet not getting in each other’s way.
So nearly all the ‘great accommodation’ boxes were already ticked – space, view, proximity to an excellent beach, comfort, privacy. And on top of that we got Diana, a delightful Grenadian who came in daily (except Sunday) and did all the chores that we hope to avoid on holiday. She would prepare fresh fruit salads every day for our breakfast, make fresh juice on request, do the cleaning and make the beds and, to our eternal gratitude, do the washing up each morning from our previous evening’s meal. She would also prepare salads and marinate meat / fish for us before leaving in the afternoon, which we would then cook in the evening. She even bought fish from us from her local market when we asked (she got a considerably better price) and would regularly turn up with an additional treat for the kids from her village – a coconut, a pineapple, some star fruit and the like. We tipped her at the end of each week, which she appeared to appreciate greatly – and which she fully deserved.
So, all in all, an entirely merited five-star review for Morne Maison, and sincere thanks to Wanda and Diana for contributing to an excellent holiday.
Although this is not directly related to the property, I have taken the time to write a few notes on the Morne Rouge Bay area more generally, as there are many positives which would further encourage me to recommend Morne Masion as an ideal holiday let.
Firstly, I should emphasise that we found Grenadians to be amongst the warmest and most easy-going people we have met anywhere. Almost without exception, people went out of their way to welcome us to their island and to ask how we were enjoying our stay. There are, of course, a few touts around – for example near the market in St George’s – but a polite, firm refusal was always enough for them to leave us alone. Beach vendors are mildly insistent, but invariably friendly and just trying to make an honest dollar, as they will tell you. We bought a few small items during our first week, and for the rest of the holiday the vendors would come up and ask us how we were doing, say hello to our kids and so on. They would try for a little more business from us, of course, but with no real expectation and seemed genuinely happy just to while away a few minutes each day in conversation.
The beach itself is wonderful. A calm, warm sea in a sheltered bay with relatively clear water most of the time – a bit sandy after a rainfall, but this would soon clear up. When we were there (July) I was often the only person on the beach until around noon, when a few late-sleeping tourists and a sprinkling of locals would head down for lunch and a swim. No doubt it is busier during the dry season, but there is plenty of space so I cannot imagine it ever being crowded. The water is very safe – ideal for families – and the only spiny urchins we saw were in the obviously rocky places on the periphery, well away from the swimming area, so not a hazard at all. In fact there was nothing nasty in the water and, apparently, there never is. (This was a big factor for us as we have a few wusses in our family.)
For crystal-clear water and snorkelling, Flamingo Bay is excellent. Boat trips run from Grande Anse Beach, fifteen minutes away on foot, and are not expensive. Grande Anse itself made a pleasant change on occasion for the kids as the waters there are a bit more lively, but it is also less sheltered and consequently gets windy.
We really liked Magazine beach, a 50 EC / 20 USD taxi ride each way and with clear water. Magazine Beach is also home to Aquarium, a consistently good and relatively inexpensive restaurant. There is a talented reggae band playing there on Sundays, although they did drift off into tourist tat now and again (Hotel California?!?).
As for shopping, there is a well-stocked supermarket fifteen minutes’ walk from the property, mostly downhill. It’s a bit of a trek back up if you are carrying a supply of Caribs and other stuff, but there are taxis outside the mall. There is a fixed fare of 25EC / 10US for the trip, which I thought was a bit steep at first. But apparently the taxi driver’s association has agreed a set of standard fares, with 25EC being the minimum for all local trips, 50EC to the airport, 100EC return to St Georges and so on. So, fair enough, an honest dollar and if you do a hefty shop twice a week it doesn’t amount to much. And we were happy enough to give the taxi drivers – every one of whom was polite and courteous - a rare bit of work in the low season. We have left the number of our favourite driver (Justin) in the guest book at Morne Rouge Bay. We used him for island tours and he is a mine of information, knows great local places to eat at a fraction of the tourist restaurant cost, and drives safely.
Finally, the weather. Many of our friends were really surprised to see us heading for Grenada during the rainy season. But we lived eight years in Africa and know the tropical climate fairly well, so we booked on the assumption that the rains would be heavy but come in short bursts. And this is exactly what happened. Most of the rain came at night – often in the early hours of the morning – so we were unaffected. It rained whilst we were on the beach only four or five times during the entire month, but never for more than ten minutes. If you go for a swim you do not notice the rain, and there is always shelter for your clothes / bags at a beach bar or under a tree. We had two very cloudy days when the sun rarely broke through, but otherwise had glorious sunshine from early morning until dusk. So our advice would be not to be put off by the rainy season. On the contrary, accommodation costs go down and he beaches are almost empty. The rains bring mozzies, of course, so pack good repellent for personal use. Powerful and effect bug sprays for rooms are available in the supermarket relatively cheaply. Morne Rouge Bay appeared to have no sandflies, which was a huge relief, although they are numerous in some parts of the island.
So, in summary, we can all thoroughly recommend Morne Maison, Morne Rouge Bay and Grenada itself. About as perfect as a holiday could be, as far as we were concerned. Enjoy Grenada, and enjoy Morne Maison!