14th July 2017: The Caribbean has always been on my list of places to visit but I had yet to make it there so, when I was offered this trip, I felt very honoured and very excited! I was lucky enough to travel with ITC and BTMI (Barbados Travel Marketing Inc) – or in short the Barbados Tourist Board! British Airways kindly upgraded us to World Traveller Plus too, so that was very welcome.
Barbados; what a place! It definitely doesn’t disappoint. On this trip I was extremely lucky to travel around and visit the island’s very best restaurants and hotels. This trip was different to many others I’ve previously been on as for much of my time here, we ate locally, which was a great help as I’ve now to be able to come back and give first-hand experience and advice about the local cuisine. I often find on these kind of trips you tend to only dine in the hotel restaurants so to be able to eat locally was a great experience.
Two restaurants which stand out as serving some of the most incredible lunches during my stay were the Animal Flower Cave and the Cliff Beach Club.
Animal Flower Cave
Firstly the Animal Flower Cave as it name suggests is built in a cave, overlooking the ocean. This informal restaurant is great for grabbing a bit to eat in a relaxed holiday setting; I had one of the island’s famous Rotis, the closest thing I can compare this with is a chicken curry wrap. It was delicious! While the views here were stunning, they were even better at my absolute favourite restaurant…
Cliff Beach Club
The Cliff Beach Club is a more formal but absolutely amazing restaurant offering the most beautiful views of the surrounding crystal clear waters. Its décor, simple yet elegant, is complimented with beautiful works of art which give the corners and booth spaces at the club a cosy and relaxed atmosphere. You really have to see this restaurant to believe it.
A fantastic little sushi restaurant with a great atmosphere. For sushi lovers and for those who don’t like sushi there’s a great menu selection and it’s four dining sections; Sushi Bar, Downstairs Dining Room, Courtyard Dining and Bar and Lounge, offer customers a great range of dining atmospheres. As Nishi is in the centre of town, it’s a great location to do a bit of exploring for those pre or post dinner drinks.
This exclusive restaurant is one of the island’s most famous and exclusive. The waiting list to dine here is over a year and I felt extremely lucky to get the opportunity to be there for dinner. This high quality al la carte restaurant is truly stunning. Not only this, the views at each of its four sections overlook the breath-taking azure waters below where you can watch stingray and tarpon swim along.
Something which I felt sets the Tides apart from other places, aside from it’s beautiful décor and rich food, is the fact it has its own art and photo gallery. Its gallery not only contains works of art inspired by the colours and culture of the Caribbean, it’s also home to work from across the world. So if you want to dine here during your stay, my advice is to book now!
One of my fondest memories of this trip was dining in Champers a restaurant and wine bar which has the most incredible views out into the ocean. Whilst dining here during the day we could spot turtles in the crystal clear waters below; a real treat! I also hear Champers is one of Simon Cowell’s favourites! So, if it’s good enough for Simon…
I visited many hotels while on Barbados. I think my personal favourites would have to be The House and the Fairmont Royal Pavilion. Both are very different from one another. This reinforced for me just how important it is to make sure the hotel chosen for each person is absolutely perfect as an incorrect smaller detail can make-or-break a guest’s holiday.
The House, as the name suggests, is aptly named as it has the atmosphere and feeling of being and staying in a House! It's small and intimate and importantly, adult only. Chic and contemporary in décor, its 34 rooms are elegantly decorated and offer guests the perfect place for relaxation. As it's a smaller property, naturally some of the facilities such as the pool/bar area are smaller but importantly, never crowded as it is more of an intimate resort.
As part of the Elegant Hotel chain, you get access to a free water taxi and the opportunity to dine in the other hotels if you wanted to.
Fairmont Royal Pavilion
Fairmont is a chain of hotels which provides guests with exceptional service and standards. With just 72 rooms, the hotel itself feels larger as it is set within 11 acres and situated on a half mile stretch of beach. Elegant and colonial in style, the Fairmont is one of the most exclusive and luxurious resorts in Barbados.
World renowned as one of the most luxurious hotels in Barbados, Sandy Lane is an absolute dream. From its plush bed pillows to its exquisite cuisine and everything in between your stay in this hotel will be truly unforgettable. During my time here, we had a delicious lunch. The staff here are the stand out for me. You can see and feel their passion for the resort and this really did show. Not just for us, but watching the staff interacting with their in house clients was very inspiring.
A gorgeous resort, of course on the ocean front, has recently undergone a stunning refurb so it’s now more modern in style in comparison to its sister hotel, Coral Reef. Sandpiper is tranquil and serene and we were lucky enough to have sampled some of its lovely food too. We had pre-dinner drinks and canapes in the resort’s luxury beach-front suite which was simply amazing. We felt like absolute royalty. Don’t forget to take the time to explore the Sandpiper’s beautiful spa set within a tropical paradise garden. Each of its four treatment rooms contain their own private foot ritual patio and garden. Many of the treatments here have been formulated with locally sourced, natural ingredients too.
Greeted with Champagne upon arrival, the service here is extremely lovely and welcoming. After politely excusing themselves, the staff made sure they had a drink with their other guests, which is a custom they always make sure they achieve on a Tuesday night. The aim of this hotel is to make sure guests feel as though they’re staying at a ‘home away from home’ and this is definitely reflected in the way I felt about this place. Cobblers Cove, is a small, cosy hotel with British owners who provide guests with an intimate and cosy stay. My only downside of this hotel is that the beach here is very small, which is sadly, a common occurrence in Barbados due to coastal erosion.
During my time on the island I had the amazing opportunity to make use of the Fairmont Royal Pavillion’s water sport center where I was taken out into the ocean to do some snorkelling! To say I was apprehensive about this is an understatement as the last time I tried snorkelling, it resulted in a panic attack after seeing a stingray; and the guide mentioning stingray on this occasion, didn’t help matters! However, on these trips, sometimes you’re given opportunities which are too good to turn down and snorkelling in Barbados is definitely one of them!
So, I plucked up the courage and swam from the beach out into the coral reef. In all honestly, I couldn’t believe I was doing it! And, to top it off, a turtle gracefully swam past me; so close in fact, I could touch it! Truly incredible. I wasn’t however, keen on the huge puffer fish which followed the turtle, but you’ll be pleased to know there was no stingray in sight! So I managed to swim safely back to the beach this time, with no panic attacks!
Paint and Groove
Another unique experience I had in Barbados included a ‘paint and groove’ class where you dance and paint on the beach front. In all honesty, I wasn’t sure about this one as I’m no artist but I loved it! Our gazebo was set up right on the beachfront and our teacher was a lovely lady who was more than happy to help find things to inspire us. Well it wasn’t hard to find inspiration, we had music playing, champagne flowing and waves lapping onto the ocean’s edge. Wow!
After being treated to a glorious afternoon tea at The House, which included a few sundowners, we were collected for a private trip on board a catamaran; a night to remember!
We cruised the Caribbean on board and watched the sun set while our chef cooked us dinner. This experience was just amazing, there is no other word for it! The staff on board were so accommodating and kind and I definitely felt as though I was living the life of the rich and famous. After sunset, dinner was served and we sat upfront lying on the nets gazing at the stars. A night I will remember forever.
Barbados did not disappoint, if anything it completely exceeded my expectations. Not only did I learn so much on this trip, I was also lucky enough to do things some people can only dream of. I’m really excited to share my experience with the next person who wants to travel to this beautiful island; I can’t stop talking about it!
I genuinely didn’t know how easy it was to get around in Barbados. Before my trip, I would never have recommended car hire, however having gone and experienced the island for myself, I would now. With so much to see and do it would be a shame not to. My thoughts on Barbados before my trip was that its very all-inclusive but I couldn’t have been more wrong. In fact, it would be a huge shame to go to Barbados and not dine out for lunch or dinner. The island has so many beautiful spots to experience and I can’t recommend it enough!