THE MAN in the dusty T-shirt and battered jeans is trying to convince me that $15 dollars is a fair price for a necklace made of nutmeg and string. I don't care. I want it. He hands me a bag of cocoa balls and tells me that when mixed with milk they will make the strongest chocolate elixir I have ever tasted. Ten dollars? Done. Perhaps it's the air, sweetly scented by a cornucopia of indigenous fruits, or it's the sight of a majestic waterfall in the rain forest out the shop's window. Regardless, I'm an easy mark: Whatever he's selling, I'm buying. I hastily pack my new possessions and hurry out the door. I've got a resort to get back to.
Situated on beaches whiter than an alpine mountaintop, a coconut's throw from an ocean that feels as if its temperature were set by climate control, the Spice Island Beach Resort would be worth the trip even if it offered the amenities of a Motel 6 and the cuisine of a chain restaurant. It does not.
Spice Island is all about options. The weary traveler just looking to decompress can take a stroll across the sprawling, 348,000-square-foot campus to Janissa's Spa before enjoying cocktails at the oceanside bar. Or take a leisurely evening tour of an island sprinkled with quaint shops and boutiques, such as the one that plied me with cocoa balls—an island so clean that residents pull their cars to the side of the road to refill water bottles from natural springs. For the more energetic vacationer there's tennis, scuba diving or a trip through the spice aisle at an outdoor market in St. George's, the capital.
Me? I'm more of the weary-traveler persuasion. After one day of sightseeing I became a bit of a homebody. But what a home. My room was an airy 1,440-square-foot palace that would've made even a duchess blush. My mornings were spent jogging along the winding beaches and my afternoons relaxing in a hammock outside my room or on a plush lounge chair by the pool. Four days passed like four hours, and when it was time to go, just one thought flashed through my mind: This is the perfect elixir.