The Best of Barbados

In Destinations, North America by LA Travel Magazine

You’ll find some of the very best hotels and restaurants in the Caribbean on the west coast of Barbados. But the island’s appeal is far broader than that, it offers a winning combination of the familiar and exotic activities and attractions.  The beaches are beautiful offering powdery sand and cerulean waters. It’s an island where, by and large, everything comes together offering pure relaxation even for the most stressed out traveler. With its turquoise seas, rich vegetation, English customs and exclusive five-star hotels, Barbados is the ‘Little England’ of the Caribbean offering a mix of the familiar and culturally exotic.

Where to Stay

When visiting the island of Barbados there is only one place to stay if you are looking to be pampered and enjoy the best of the best and that is Sandy Lane. There are a few places in the world, where the word luxurious is the most appropriate adjective for every single thing you experience here.  It is no surprise after visiting that it is one of the world’s best resorts. Located on the western coast of the island, known as the Platinum Coast, Sandy Lane sits on 1,000 feet of white sand. The resort boasts 112 opulent rooms and suites with hi-tech amenities, decadent interior designs, marble floors and a private veranda to enjoy the ocean views. Each room offers touch screen controls at your bedside to adjust the air conditioning, change the TV channel, open the curtains and of course adjust the lighting to set the mood. The entertainment center includes a 42-inch plasma screen TV and is just what you’d expect from a sophisticated resort.  Did I mention you can find heated mirrors and multi-spray showers in the over-sized bathroom?

The visitor experience is over the top perfection, with superb customer service from the extremely warm, friendly and helpful staff, which ensured that our stay was an absolute pleasure from start to finish.  It is obvious staff members are treated well here and not only love their jobs but also respect their team leaders. From the moment we arrived we were treated like royalty. Even the kids at Sandy Lane are catered for to keep them entertained while parents sit back and relax.

There are four restaurants, seven bars, nine floodlit tennis courts, dedicated clubs for both kids and teens and three world championship golf courses; even better all courses have been approved by Tiger Woods himself. The resort is famous for its three golf courses, two of which are open to the public; The Old Nine and The Country Club while the Green Monkey course (Tiger’s favorite) is exclusively for use by resort guests. We golfed the challenging 72 par, 7,060-yard Country Club course which was designed by Tom Fazio; the same designer of our favorite local Pelican Hill course in Newport Beach.

The magnificent 47,000 square foot spa on property provides a range of treatments and is second to none.  The treatment list is pretty extensive and highlights traditional cultural therapies from around the world. There are 14 personalized VIP suites, relaxation and meditation rooms, a panoramic sauna, a 2,500-square-foot gym and a 7,500-square-foot free-form swimming pool. There is also a Chakra therapy room, a Hydrotherapy room and Jet Blitz room. The spa has recently introduced a teen spa menu for guests from 9 to 16 years old that offers manicures, pedicures, facials and massages.  I went with an aromatherapy massage which was wonderful and left me in a state of tranquility for the rest of my day.

Dining

Cuisine counts at Sandy Lane and with so many dining options it can be hard to choose. Upon arrival we made a reservation at Bajan Blue, the resorts casual beachfront restaurant located on the lower terrace.  We ordered the Yellow Fin Tuna Tartar with Pickled Cucumber Carpaccio, Crème Fraiche and Wonton Chips. For our entrée selections we went with the Chicken Pesto Linguini and the Bajan Blue Surf and Turf.  Everything we tried was fresh and left our taste buds wanting more.  The cocktails were exotic and unique and ordering one of their signature cocktails called the Green Monkey is a must!

After dinner we headed over to the Monkey Bar to enjoy a cocktail and check out the scene.  We didn’t stay too long as it had been a long day and were excited to get back to our luxurious room for some R&R!

The next evening we dined at L’Acajou, the resorts signature open-air waterfront restaurant. The menu showcases the freshest ingredients including seafood from the island itself, local delicacies and much more.  It is truly an indulgent meal to remember with its French flare and white linen covered tables adding to the ambiance.  Upon entering the restaurant you can feel the luxury and start to imagine the list of important people that have dined here before you. This is an experience; one you will take with you and remember for years to come.

We started with Seared Maine Scallops with Cauliflower Puree, Smoked Almonds, Curry Spices and Cauliflower Tempura.  For our mains, we enjoyed the Roasted Local Free Range Chicken paired with Gnocchi, Sweet Corn Succotash and Smoked Chicken Jus and the Prime Aged Creek Stone Beef Tenderloin. Everything we had was fantastic; this is clearly the best restaurant in Barbados. The menu demonstrates a melding of the past and present by combining classical cooking techniques with contemporary combinations. Combine that with the freshest produce and you have a five-star restaurant fit for a foodie.

When you’re ready to leave the resort and explore the island (most don’t by the way as Sandy Lane has everything one could need) a visit to Harrison’s Cave should be on your list.  It is a bit of drive and can be difficult to get to with the lack of signage on the island so hire a driver or tour guide!

The cave consists of stalactites hanging from the roof and stalagmites that emerge from the ground, with streams of crystal-clear running water that drop from breathtaking waterfalls to form deep emerald pools. The stalactites and stalagmites were formed over thousands of years and in some places the stalactites have reached down to the stalagmites and a spectacular pillar has been formed.

Visitors are driven in electrically operated trams down through the extensive system of caves and at the lowest level point in the cave, visitors are invited to leave the tram and walk alongside a spectacular waterfall which plunges into a deep pool below.

If you are feeling adventurous and want to explore the island from another perspective we suggest swimming with the turtles. Most turtle tours are on catamarans which provide lunch, masks and snorkels. We went with a private boat hire to get right in on the action. We stopped over a shipwreck and the turtles came right up to us for crackers.  Yes, they like crackers which I found pretty odd but hey it did the trick and we spent the afternoon swimming alongside them, watching and observing their every move.  It was magical!