BARBADOS A piece of paradise!
An awe-inspiring coastline, perfect temperatures and the friendliest people in the world, it’s no wonder UK holidaymakers return to this paradise over and over again. Without question, it’s an island of contrasts – sleek and modern in many ways, yet clearly still bound to the customs, traditions and religious influences of England. You’ll find a wide range of accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets, fine food, charming local restaurants and all manner of festivals and events – the biggest problem you’ll have is fitting everything in!
The island is easy to get around and isn’t huge at around 166 square miles. You’ll find English heritage that will make you feel right at home. Get out and about and explore the island, with beautiful scenery and a warm welcome from the local Bajan people.
I have just returned from an amazing 10 days in Barbados, during my stay I managed to visit 9 lovely hotels on the West Coast of the island – here’s my inside view of each along with some top tips of where to go for the best beaches, outstanding food and stunning surroundings.
Tamarind Hotel was my base for the duration of my stay. The hotel is located on a lovely stretch of beach which is perfect for morning strolls to get your day started. Tamarind is a good choice for families with a great kids club and excellent water sports which are supervised by a great team. Motorised water sports are included at most of The Elegant Hotels which keeps the older kids busy all day… I would say the only downside is that the levels of service do vary dependant on staff member which is not ideal.
I stayed at the hotel on B&B but you can book half board and choose whether to use your half board meal at lunch or dinner which is great as there are so many amazing restaurants to choose from, including the famous Cliff Restaurant which is the most breath taking restaurant I have been in – it is just a 2 minute taxi ride away or you can walk in the day time directly along the beach from Tamarind to the stunning Cliff Beach Club – there is no beach here but spectacular views – definitely worth a visit.
Next door to The Tamarind Hotel is The House which is part of the same hotel group as Tamarind, Elegant Hotels. The House is a contemporary adult only hotel offering a chic but relaxed atmosphere. This is an all-suite hotel with all rooms offering stunning sea views. A great choice for a romantic holiday with someone special.
Further up the West Coast is The Coral Reef Club, on arrival at The Coral Reef you are immediately impressed! It is easy to see why it has won so many awards over the years, it is very much a stylish retreat for the rich and famous! The Coral Reef has been in the O’Hara family for the last 50 years and I was delighted to be greeted by Mr O’Hara on arrival who gave me a real flavour of the charm that the hotel offers. Coral Reef is a plantation style resort with beautiful furnishings throughout. The hotel is renowned for impeccable service and I can understand why so many people return to The Coral Reef Club again and again. The spa on-site is beautiful, anyone who enjoys spa treatments will be very impressed.
The resort offers villa accommodation which is ideal for families or groups looking for their own space.
I was fortunate enough to view a Plantation Suite during my visit – simply stunning, I was quite speechless! Perfect for a honeymoon or special occasion. Overall I would recommend The Coral Reef Club for mature adults looking for a luxurious upmarket retreat.
Next door to The Coral Reef Club is The Sandpiper, a small intimate resort which is full of character. Another sophisticated resort but with a more relaxed atmosphere. Rooms are scattered along tiny paths along lush tropical gardens. I didn’t eat in the hotel but have heard it is excellent and worth a visit even if you are not staying in the hotel.
Harold’s Bar overlooks the beautiful beach and is a stunning spot to watch the spectacular sunsets. Harold himself is a real character and most definitely gets the party going!
The main pool is new and is probably one of the nicest pools I have come across in my career and I has seen quite a few! The rooms are traditionally decorated with a contemporary twist – really lovely. I was lucky enough to view their Tree Top Suite, oh my!!! If I could stay anywhere it would be here (if only….) – definitely one for a honeymoon or if you can afford to splash out this would by my recommendation out of everywhere I visited on the island.
All rooms have recently been refurbished with a beautiful décor and I would recommend requesting ground floor as the extra space you get is great, for example a double day bed on your terrace or your own seating area for four people. The Ocean view Suites and Luxury Poolside rooms are simply stunning with custom-made wooden furniture, French doors, white washed wooden ceilings and large bathrooms.
There are four pools including one with a swim up bar for those afternoon cocktails or sunset cheers. Most of the main areas of the hotel overlook the beach which is really spectacular in the evenings.
Next on the list was The Colony Club, another hotel from The Elegant Hotel Group. I was most definitely impressed by The Colony Club, it’s elegant but relaxed with rooms set out around the most beautiful gardens – just lovely! I would definitely recommend a stay at The Colony Club.
Heading South down the coast line I visited Crystal Cove another hotel from The Elegant Hotel Group. Crystal Cove has a livelier atmosphere and is a more mainstream all-inclusive resort ideal for families.
The resort is like a small local village with brightly painted buildings. The beach at this resort is quite narrow but the pool area does overlook the beach. As with all the Elegant Hotel’s Crystal Cove offers complementary motorised and non-motorised water sports – great fun for all!
My last Elegant Hotel was the newly re-opened Waves Hotel & Spa located on a stretch of white pristine beach on the Platinum West Coast of the island. Waves is an all-inclusive resort ideal for adults but families are welcome too. The décor in the hotel is really fresh with lots of light woods and turquoise colours of the beautiful Caribbean Sea. The rooms are really spacious, but I would recommend the Ocean front rooms as the views are uninterrupted and breath-taking.
The hotel itself is split into two areas with an adult only area across the road from the main hotel building. Within the adult area is a lovely big pool, top notch Spa and rooms overlooking the pool (no sea views over this side).
Waves is a good choice for adults who enjoy the beach, Spa treatment, sports activities and lovely surroundings – I would definitely stay here, a good affordable option.
During the day Elegant Hotels operate a free water taxi service between Waves – Crystal Cove – Tamarind – Colony Club, which enables you to sample facilities are each of the different hotels. Or you can simply jump on-board and enjoy the scenery as the boat goes on its journey.
Treasure Beach was closed for refurbishment during my visit, but the management there were more than happy to show me around and I was pleasantly surprised with what I saw. The resort looks like nothing from the road but once you walk through the lobby and take in the view out to the beach you are sold on Treasure Beach! This is a small intimate boutique hotel with high rates of returning guests. All rooms are suites ranging from smaller suites to two large ‘honeymoon’ style suites with Jacuzzi baths on the terrace. Treasure Beach is ideal for those looking for charm and simplicity with great personal service.
Last but not least is The Fairmont Royal Pavilion, a very well established traditional upmarket beachfront hotel with all rooms commanding stunning views of the Caribbean Sea – wow! The ground floor rooms have spacious terraces with your own sunbathing area, uninterrupted views and are a stone’s throw from the water’s edge – wow again!
The Fairmont gets lots of repeat guests year after year due to their exceptional service levels – I watched staff engage with residents on a first name basis and lots of big smiles.
I would recommend The Fairmont to a more mature clientele looking for traditional Caribbean charm along with English colonial touches such as afternoon tea and tours of the impressive exotic gardens.
My favourite places to eat
There are so many great places to eat on the island, here are my favourites:
- The Lonestar is simply one of the most beautiful restaurants I have been in, set on the beach, contemporary décor and fantastic food – you have to click the link and view for yourself. Price bracket £££
- Tides is another beauty similar to Lonestar in terms of stunning location, interior and food – a must when you go to Barbados. Again click the link to be blow away by the setting. Price bracket £££
- The Cliff and The Cliff Beach Club are famous for their dramatic location on the edge of a cliff (funnily enough!), The Cliff is very romantic and perfect for a special occasion. Price bracket £££
- Cin Cin by The Sea is a contemporary restaurant with a large outdoor terrace at the edge of the sea – lovely! Price bracket £££
- Lobster Alive is a shack on the beach with real atmosphere and open layout, with a beach deck and tables in the sand. serving fresh lobster straight from their huge tanks. They have a jazz band playing on a Sunday afternoon – a great day out!! Price bracket ££
- The Fish Pot is located North of Speightstown and is part of Little Good Harbour Hotel. The food here is amazing and never fails to disappoint. Price bracket ££
- Mullens Beach Bar, low key beach bar with style! Great food and a great atmosphere.
Top 5 Experiences
- A trip to Barbados isn’t complete without a visit to Oistins Fish Fry on a Friday or Saturday night! Enjoy the excitement and buzz of Barbados’ most popular market place, with local arts and crafts, freshly caught and prepared fish and chips, and entertainment galore. Dance next to the beach and under the stars to reggae bands and ballroom for an unforgettable night out.
- Visit Harrisons Cave – an amazing limestone cave network where you can travel deep beneath the earth; hear the rushing of the streams and see the different shapes and sizes of the stalactites and stalagmites. This is not hidden, but is a true gem. The beauty of the caves is truly mind blowing and the guided tour on board the tram is enlightening, with an insight into the intricacy of nature.
- With so many water-based activities available, why not sail on a catamaran, surf the waves, kiteboard or even take part in an eco-dive for your chance to see shipwrecks, stingrays and barracuda. You might even be lucky enough to swim with turtles in their natural habitat, and the view of the coastline from the water is quite magical.
- Enjoy one or more cocktails at the Mount Gay Rum Visitors Centre, and discover the colourful history of Mount Gay Rum. Learn how the world’s finest rum is made and enjoy tasty Bajan cuisine in the Verandah restaurant overlooking the sea. See how this precious spirit is created and become a rum expert yourself as you explore the subtleties of flavours that will tickle your palate.
- Whether you pick up a hire car to explore yourself, or go on one of the island safaris available, you must experience the contrasting scenery across the island. The North and East Coasts are quiet, spectacular and unspoilt with incredible views. The centre of the island consists of beautiful countryside, rolling hills and sugar cane plantations where you can escape from it all.
Give me a call on 01292 737 767 for more information or to book your spot on that white sand beach!