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Welcome to Grenada.

Be forewarned: Grenada is not for everyone. There are no towering high-rise hotels or glittering casions. You won't find bustling duty-free emporiums offering up spirits, jewels and scents. Service can be quite lackadasical, and you might long for all the amenities of home. But if you are an adventurous island-lover who's nostalgic for the way the Caribbean used to be, then Grenada just might become your personal paradise.

Grenada is perhaps best known as the tiny "banana republic" that stood in the international spotlight in 1983, when U.S. troops invaded the island to restore government power after a violent Marxist coup. Today, it is politically stable and its leaders are energetically campaigning to boost tourism. Unlike other West Indian nations, where European and North American developers run the lion's share of the action, "Most of our properties are owned by black Grenadians," states Jude Bernard, director of the Grenada Board of Tourism. "The managers are black, and the staff is not uncomfortable serving black guests. That's because the boss is black."

Accommodations range from sprawling beachside resorts to tiny family-owned apartment complexes and inns. Compared with other Caribbean islands, Grenada is a bargain. Visitors may rent a homey cottage for two weeks for the same amount they might spend on a seven-day stay at a basic hotel room elsewher. You might opt for the Gem Holiday Beach Resort, a small but friendly apartment complex on picturesque Morne Rouge Beach. What it lacks in polish it makes up for in funky charm. The resort is owned by the local Bedeau family, and the staff takes a personal interest in the comfort of its guests.

If your idea of shopping includes duty-free imported goods, stick to St. Thomas. St. George's, Grenada's capital, doesn't offer much in the way of fancy sounvenirs, but you'll delighted with the array of fragrant spices nestled in colorful straw baskets at Market Square. The island is well-known for its abundance of spices, especially the ubiquitous nutmeg. Cloves, cinnamon, ginger cocoa and turmeric, called saffron in Grenada, are also cultivated. Once you've tasted the real thing, you'll never go back to canned condiments again.

Indigenous tropical flowers are the basis of fragrant perfumes and body oils. At Spice Island Perfumes, on the harbor front, you'll find potpourri, teas and wonderful scents, such as "Island Man" and "Frangipani." Your strolls around the harbor will work up your appetite, so take a break at Delicious Landing or Nutmeg for a tasty meal of conch or fresh fish with spicy rice and peas. Wash it down with a nutmeg-dusted rum punch or, if you don't imbibe, a frosty, sinus-clearing Baritt's giner beer.

When dinnertime rolls around, you'll have a tempting selection of fine restaurants to choose from. For sheer romance, it's a toss-up between Coconut's located at Grande Anse Beach, and La Belle Creole at the Blue Horizons Resort, which features a breathtaking view of the palm-studded hillside. The Spice Island Inn is also an elegant, but pricey choice--about $85 per couple for dinner. The chefs at these establishments make judicious use of native fish and produce, turning out tender callalloo crepes, tasty christophine (a Caribbean squash au gratin, intricate conch and dolphin (the fish, not Flipper) dishes and tangy ginger and mano-based desserts. For more casual dining, check out Mamma's or the Green Flash.

Grenada is a lush, verdant island, and you're cheating yourself if you don't venture out and explore. If you're a fearless driver who can easily navigate rolling hills using a stick shift and righthand steering, by all means, rent a car. Highlights of your might include a visit to the spectacular Annandale Falls--crystal-clear cascades splashing in a Garden of Eden setting; LaSagesse Nature Center; historic Fort Frederick; and the stunning Grand Etang National Park, where a pristine volcanic lake sits in the middle of a misty rain forest.

Take a tour of Gouyave, a tiny fishing village, and Greenville, Grenada's "second city" and home to a colorful outdoor market. For a quick, tasty lunch, look for the Indian roti shop, Rins Take-Way, on Grenville's main strip.

Wherever you venture, you will meet friendly folks who are proud of their lovely island, and eager to make you feel at home. Getting there: American Airlines and British West Indies Air (BWIA) daily service to Grenada from New York City.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:visitor information
Author:Ilaw, Marianne
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Sep 1, 1993
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