Barbados is home to glitz and glamour; it’s the bedrock of film stars, pop stars and famed celebrities. The place where not only the best rum in the world is made, but where you can find the trendiest restaurants and most stunning beaches, not to mention hotels…But do you need a big bulging wallet to enjoy this ultimate island of the big spenders? On a jet plane, I set out to find out what the deal is!
The Club Resort and Spa, located on St James Beach on the West Coast, also known as the Gold Coast has a rock star location next door to THE Sandy Lane Hotel, but at a fraction of the price.
One of only nine all-inclusive hotels on the island, it offers buffet style breakfasts and lunches, a la carte dinners in two of its restaurants and premium drinks, all included. The main reason this hotel hits the mark is it serves excellent food. Fresh fish, meats, fruit, all prepared and served by friendly and attentive staff.
Nestled within five acres of lush tropical gardens it offers panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea, three fresh water swimming pools, a gym, free tennis, free water sports, spa and a salon. You can spend your entire holiday there without leaving and indulge in as much good food, drinks and sports as you like, as well as soak up the rays. I was very pleased I packed my Helly Hansen running shoes and t-shirts as early morning gym and tennis games meant I could take advantage of the three meals a day on offer.
There’s heaps of entertainment during the day and evenings from, historical walks, rum tastings, a cookery school within Enid’s Restaurant and Caribbean dancing classes.
If you do want to explore outside the all-inclusive set-up, then getting around the island is easy, and as cheap as chips. The yellow ‘Reggae Reggae’ and Blue buses are both speedy and reliable. Paying just 2 BBD Barbados Dollars (0.60p) if you want to do one stop or taking you as far as you can go, makes this a very cheap way of seeing the island.
The nearest town to St James Beach is Holetown. A bustling place, bursting with small independent boutiques and a designer shopping mall, LimeGrove, for the more expensive items. For down-to-earth Holetown, head for the ‘One Love Bar’ to experience Mount Gay Rum at its best with the locals, then afterwards, take in some sun on Surf Side and join the party set to watch the sun go down.
A hidden gem on the island is Café Bar Carizma, owned by an English couple. It’s based amongst beautiful gardens in the centre of the Chattel Village, Holetown. On Tuesdays and Thursdays they have live music by 1359 and serve the best Spanish tapas.
It’s safe to go out at night and day. Friday night’s most people head to Oistins. It’s an active fishing town on the south coast and is a hub of activity with lots of people and music. Excellent fresh fish from tuna to marlin, lobster and the local mahi-mahi and flying fish are cooked in front of you. You can get your fish grilled or fried depending on which you go to. I headed for Pat’s Grillin’ and Chillin’ where I had a whole Red Snapper and chips costing around BBD 15. (£4.50).
Alex Ferguson had taken his friends to Lonestar, known as ‘The Ivy’ of the Caribbean recently. Next door, with the same view and pretty spectacular fresh seafood, call into JuJu’s, a beach bar restaurant without the celebrity prices.
North-West of the island is Speightstown, a magical place with lots of heritage. Pop into Frangipani Art, where you can buy some local cards and paintings. And just a short walk towards the Port St Charles you can find some amazing beaches and hire sun loungers for 20 Barbados dollars. Further along, you will find the Port St Charles Yacht Club, where you can stop to have lunch and sunbathe on the deck or use their lovely pool bar swimming pool.
A further walk ahead you will stumble upon Little Good Harbour. A charming village of one Rum bar and shacks of fishing huts where the locals are bringing in their catches and filleting their Flying Fish. Locals were dropping by in their bus loads buying up bags full of fish for their dinner. The local restaurant is the Fish Pot, serving premium quality food overlooking the sea. Head back on the bus to Mullins Beach bar for a sun downer and a final swim in the sea for the day, or stop by at The Colony Club Hotel for half-price cocktails during its happy hour from 5pm to 7pm and watch the sunset.
If you’re a Member of the National Trust, then don’t forget your Membership card as it will gain you free access and reduced entry to the fascinating sites managed by the Barbados National Trust. Choose Wildey House or the wonders of nature at the Andromeda Botanic Gardens or see the stunning views of Gun Hill Signal Station.
You can’t go to Barbados without snorkelling with the turtles. If you don’t fancy paying the price of taking a boat ride out, then taxi over to JuJu’s beach bar and head out when the catamarans arrive. This triggers turtle feeding time and you will see and swim with plenty. You can also rent beach sun loungers from here too to make a day of swimming and turtling.
All the beaches in Barbados are free and accessible to the public, meaning it’s not uncommon to spot the stars swimming in the sea or basking in the sun. Think nothing of dipping in the sparkling waters smack bang outside the hotel of Sandy Lane and swimming into someone you recognise.
Strolling past Sandy Lane’s pink umbrella and towels, we bumped into friends we know staying at this luxurious $4550 a night hotel. We were kindly invited up to the Lower Terrace for drinks and promptly introduced to the beach bar waiter, as well as Alpha Jackman. Described by the late Michael Winner as ‘a likeable, local, charming chap,’ I can only assume that’s why he’s so excellent at being Guest Services Manager there and made us feel so welcome, even as non-residents.
After what became a decadent lunch of sushi, grilled fish and lamb, we strolled back along the ocean side. A three minute walk and we were back at The Club Resort, a world apart from Sandy Lane Hotel, but very much a great holiday hot-spot within a stones-throw of the glitz and glamour to be found on this magical island.
What to Pack:-
- You’re near the equator, so burning sun means lots of sun cream. Try ‘Sunsense’ Cream
- Glamorous swim wear – check out www.HeidiKlein.com
- Goggles and snorkelling gear to check out those turtles and fish
- Helly Hansen Running Shoes & T-shirts for tennis, walking and gym
- National Trust Membership card
The Club Hotel & Spa Barbados, All – inclusive, adults only (Over 16’s).
7 nights on an all-inclusive basis at The Club Barbados from £999 per person in a Garden View Room (saving £582 per person), includes return flights from London with 23kg luggage allowance. To book: Call 08444 999 330
Kate was a guest of The Club Hotel and Spa Barbados and was given clothes and shoes to wear from Helly Hansen.