Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn
Relax―you’re in the islands. Meander through a landscape of jaw-dropping hills, bypass a few tiny huts, and wind your jeep to the top of the dirt road. Turn right and you’ve arrived. You won’t find the glamour associated with more-touristy Caribbean destinations; there’s virtually nothing over-the-top about Carriacou. But one glimpse at bright, colorful Belair Garden Cottage and you’ll know you’re on vacation.
The open-air cottage with gingerbread trim and a tin roof is so immersed in its tropical environment that you can pick a fresh-fruit breakfast while standing at the kitchen sink. Owners Michael Ward and Rebecca Sawyer lovingly hand-built the structure on 3 acres overlooking the windward valley of Carriacou and 14 other islands in the Grenadines chain. Rebecca, an artist, took inspiration from the setting when choosing the color palette. The base coat reflects the inside of a ripe papaya, and the trim work mimics bougainvillea and alamanda, Rebecca’s favorite tropical flowers. A bright blue floor echoes the sea. “The transition between indoors and out is almost transparent, allowing the cottage to feel open and airy while maintaining its coziness,” she says.
If you can tear yourself away from the adorable rental, there’s plenty to do on the mountainous island. Swim, catch some rays, or explore the underwater world. The island, known for its unspoiled reefs, hosts an array of dive sites just offshore. Boat charters can be arranged for day trips to nearby islands. For those who prefer dry land, there are abundant hiking trails. The main village, Hillsborough, offers local crafts, music, and culture. Should you require assistance, just ask. Rebecca is more than happy to oblige.
But chances are you’ll find the most enjoyable spot is the cottage’s hammock, where you can gaze out over an endlessly fascinating landscape. As you sway in the cool afternoon breeze, embrace the simple pleasures of this cottage and its captivating setting.
(published May 2008)