ON THIS tiny finger of an island, bypassed by Columbus in the 15th century and pretty much everyone else for the next 500 years, size matters. Raffles—which devours more than a quarter of the five-square-mile island—boasts the Caribbean's largest swimming pool (12,900 square feet) and longest par-3 golf hole (304 yards). One more detail, a resort employee helpfully points out: Canouan's most famous native (and until the construction of Raffles in 2004, perhaps its tallest landmark) is Adonal Foyle, the 6' 10" backup center for the NBA's Orlando Magic.
Still a regular visitor to the island, the Adonal looms large on Canouan, much like the Donald, who casts an outsized shadow over the resort. Though the complex is owned and run by an Italian conglomerate, it was Trump who constructed the Raffles casino (which includes the spectacular restaurant La Varenne) and its postcard-perfect golf course. The 6,900-yard layout starts low and steadily climbs to a breathtaking apex on the back nine. It's not unusual for the high ground to be occupied by as many nongolfers taking in the 360-degree views of Canouan as it is by players. From the tips on the 13th, on clear days you can see as far as Grenada to the south, St. Kitts to the north, eternity to the east and west. "We like to call Raffles a playground for the lucky few," says general manager Gilbert Madhaven.
The course isn't alone in offering stunning vistas. So do Mount Royal, a lush 900-foot peak that can be reached in less than a half hour of vigorous hiking, and the bluffs on Canouan's northeast coast, best reached by mountain bike. For the less aerobically inclined, Raffles offers all the usual amenities of a paradise by the sea: white sand, clear blue ocean and, on the tennis court, A-list dignitaries.
Translated from Carib, the island's predominant tongue along with English, Canouan means Land of the Turtle. Like the ubiquitous tartarucha, life on the island does indeed move slowly. (Until the 1990s, Canouan didn't even have electricity.) But that's the whole point, isn't it?