Inside Soho House's First Property in the Caribbean
Jetsetting creatives have breezed in and out of Soho Houses since hospitality power broker Nick Jones founded his first members-only club in 1995. Born in London, the brand quickly became synonymous with exclusivity — with membership limited to those in artistic fields, and only granted after a lengthy application process. Today the company has 27 properties globally, including entries into the restaurant and hotel sphere. And last year, Soho House made its first splash in the Caribbean with Soho Beach House Canouan, which opened in March 2021.
Canouan, a three-square-mile island in the Grenadines in the shape of a fish hook, has flown under the radar as a travel destination except for an elite few — the kind of traveler to anchor a million-dollar vessel at Sandy Lane Yacht Club, or enjoy a massage in one of the private open-air spa suites at the Mandarin Oriental.
The Soho Beach House offers a different approach to paradise. Here, the sandy-toned buildings are no taller than the surrounding palm trees; when I checked in over a long weekend in January, rather than endless marble and blasting AC, I found thatched rooftops and guests padding barefoot from the quiet beach to the outdoor restaurant.
The property also differs from most Soho Houses in that it prioritizes disconnecting and requires a puddle-jumper (or private jet) to get there — quite unlike the urban destinations in New York or Berlin that are ideal for meetings, screenings, or making professional connections. (Though you might strike up a leisurely dinner conversation with the table next to you, like I did.) There is still that air of exclusivity — you need to purchase a Soho Friends membership to make a booking — but once you're inside, it feels like you've been handed the keys to a private retreat, where the only things on the agenda are deep relaxation and great cocktails.
"Other Soho Houses are about networking, but the Beach House is different," said Philip Spee, the area general manager of the Miami and Canouan properties, who I met during my visit. "There aren't a lot of electronics here, no TVs in the rooms." (A welcome exception: the seamless Wi-Fi that never skipped a beat, plus complimentary converters.) The staff were warm and relaxed, stepping out from behind the open-air reception desk to show me the wicker lamps where hummingbirds make their nests, and lingering by my table at dinner to recommend local delicacies, like roasted breadfruit.
The hotel sits along the curving beach of Grand Bay, with 40 rooms (each with an ocean-facing balcony) grouped in a few freestanding buildings on the beach. The Soho House design team restyled the resort, previously the Tamarind Beach Hotel, with natural grasses, reclaimed timber, and vintage cane and rattan furniture. (Design lovers, good news: some pieces are available to purchase on the Soho Home website, like the bubbled Reith rug I felt under my bare feet and the textured ceramic lamp next to my bed.)
I visited the on-site boutique twice, browsing caftans from Mrs. Mandolin, reversible jewel-toned bathing suits, and bags of handwoven grass produced in partnership with Grow in Time, a local nonprofit on nearby St. Vincent that offers craft and entrepreneurship programming for incarcerated people. There's also a deli counter, an outdoor restaurant and a couple bars, a two-story fitness studio lined with retro tennis racquets, and a lounge area dotted with sun beds and hammock chairs.
Amazingly, the bay — just steps from where I ate breakfast each morning on my balcony — is completely devoid of the whir of motorized Jet Skis and powerboats. Instead, 60-foot catamarans bob with flags from Barbados, France, and Norway. Closer to shore, pelicans dive into the turquoise water seeking fish, so close that swimmers can hear the surprisingly heavy thwunk, like a basketball crashing through the surface.
During my stay I met travelers Christian and Sally Wilse, who were visiting from their home in England. "The attention to detail is why I love Soho House," said Christian, who has been a member since 1996. "You feel the quality everywhere. And they are famous for finding those precious locations — there's only one place in the world you can get this horizon."
The Wilses and I teamed up to embark on a boating day trip arranged by the property, complete with rosé in the cooler. During a stop at the nearby Tobago Cays, we snorkeled with sea turtles and stingrays, then feasted on an outdoor lunch of grilled spiny lobster on Petit Rameau Island.
Another popular excursion: hiking to the top of Mount Royal. On my last day on Canouan, I took it all in after reaching the 877-foot summit with the Beach House's trail guide, Floyd Cupid. The island stretched out below us, surrounded by the nearby islands of Mustique, Grenada, Trinidad, and Tobago. Cupid told me that, if you look south, you might see Venezuela hidden in a haze of blue.
"Stargazing is amazing up here," Cupid added as we began our descent, startling a massive iguana from its sun-warmed rock. "There's very little light pollution, and the cooler temperatures at night make a nice change." Back at the beach, I rewarded myself with a rum punch — and a signature Soho House chocolate chip cookie — and pretended I could stay at least another week.
There will be more to explore next time: plans are in the works to build a pool, a Cowshed Spa (from Soho House's signature wellness brand), and villas for exclusive-use rental. In the meantime, visitors have access to all amenities at the nearby Mandarin Oriental, including the swimming pools, spa, and 18-hole golf course. But most Beach House guests stay right where they are.
How to Book Your Stay
So, how do non-club members book a stay? The Soho Friends membership, a new tier introduced during the pandemic, allows travelers to purchase access to stay in any Soho House property. After creating an online profile, which includes writing a brief bio and paying the annual $150 membership fee, travelers can book rooms around the world; access walk-in studios for music recordings or photo shoots; and receive discounts on Cowshed Spa treatments and products, as well as meals at Soho-branded restaurants (that don't require full membership).
Rooms from $245 per night, sohohouse.com.