Living the caribbean dream
Nestled in lush, emerald hills and facing the pristine waters of Portici Beach near Grenada’s Quarantine Point, LaLuna Beach Resort and Villas is the manifested dream of its owner, designer, and host, Bernardo Bertucci, who came to the island 15 years ago in search of paradise. The fashion designer and former consultant to Prada, Armani, and La Perla, Bertucci says he got the land on which his resort sits by pure luck. “I wasn’t looking in Grenada,” he says. “Every couple of months, I was flying down from New York, going around with a real estate agent. I went to Tobago, St. Kitts-Nevis, Antigua, and Barbados. Then when I came to Grenada, I was lucky enough to find this beautiful piece of land on this beautiful island. When we arrived, I bought two and a half acres; today we own 35 acres in the same bay, so we own the entire bay. We were pretty lucky.”
Whether by luck or design, Bertucci’s dream has achieved international fame as one of the Caribbean’s most beautiful, albeit, most remote, luxury resort destinations. Well-known as a laid-back site for company retreats, as well as a setting for photo shoots and film backgrounds, LaLuna was recently inducted into Trip Advisor’s Hall of Fame after receiving a Certificate of Excellence for five straight years. TripExpert recently awarded LaLuna its Expert Choice award, and the resort has been featured in numerous travel magazines, including Hideaways Life, Ocean Home Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler, Bazaar Escape, Caribbean Travel and Life, Fortune Magazine, Vogue, and the Sunday Times Travel Magazine, among others.
A tasteful mélange of Caribbean, Italian, and Balinese design elements, LaLuna is an amalgamation of its owner’s eclectic tastes and travel proclivities. Its original 16 cottages, painted in warm Tuscan hues, were co-designed by Bertucci, himself, and renowned Italian architect, Gabriella Giuntoli; all rooms feature Italian linens and bath products made exclusively in a monastery in the Italian Alps. Chef Daniele Gaetano prepares authentic Italian cuisine in the resort’s beachside restaurant, with ingredients imported directly from Italy and flavored with herbs from the resort’s own organic garden.
In 2008, Bertucci added a yoga pavilion on the beach and a wellness center with an Asian spa, staffed by Balinese therapists who offer traditional Balinese massages. “I lived in Bali for some years, so the influence of Balinese culture and the look is everywhere in LaLuna,” he explains. Indeed, all of the resort’s rooms feature four-poster Balinese beds and open-air, bamboo bathrooms with Caribbean Sea views.
Over the last three or four years, Bertucci expanded the resort by adding seven luxury villas, four of which have already been sold, and all of which are available for rental. LaLuna has 55 employees and is open year round for its mix of American, British, Canadian, and local Caribbean visitors. After taking a year’s sabbatical from construction, Bertucci says that he wants to build some more villas in 2017, but on a much smaller scale. Instead of the four and five bedroom buildings he recently completed, the new villas will likely be two-bedroom units. And, instead of each one having an individual plunge pool, several units may share one.
As is typical of many Caribbean resorts and hotels, LaLuna maintains a 70+ percent occupancy rate, which is perfectly fine with its relaxed host and the atmosphere Bertucci wishes to preserve for his guests, many of whom have become good friends over the years. The resort markets itself digitally and a brand new website should be up and running by January, 2016.
But many visitors hear about LaLuna from former guests. “Word-of-mouth has always been very strong marketing for us,” Bertucci says, “because people have a great time with us and they send their cousins and their friends. The thing that I always hear is that people are surprised to find such a gem. I travel a lot for business, and I’m still surprised after 15 years, when I come to LaLuna. It’s really a special place. If you like more parties and more people around you, maybe LaLuna is too quiet. But if you’re looking for a perfect vacation with some relaxation, good food, yoga, and some massages, nobody beats us.”
Bernardo Bertucci is a man who has realized his dream of paradise and is more than happy to share it with others. “My dream that I had when I was living in New York is happening. I keep dreaming and I keep adding to my dream. But we will never build something ugly or big or intrusive. I love Grenada. In five years, you will find me here with my hands dirty with cement and paint.” Or perhaps, you will find him happily mingling with his guests; a glass of fine Italian wine in those hands; watching a beautiful Caribbean sunset over crystal-clear, blue waters. If so – don’t wake him. The more he dreams, the better.
AT A GLANCE
WHO: LaLuna Beach Resort and Villas
WHAT: One of the Caribbean’s most beautiful and remote luxury resort destinations
WHERE: Portici Beach, Grenada