There is a huge amount of pent-up demand to travel as soon as we are able. With so many travel plans thwarted in 2020 and now also in 2021, everyone is eagerly looking for holiday ideas and somewhere safe, inviting, hospitable and let’s face it with uncomplicated entry protocols to visit. Sun, sea and sand are closer than you think, and I was lucky enough to be on one of the first planes out to ‘green list’ Barbados at the beginning of the month. If Captain Sir Tom Moore was able to visit pre-Christmas (read more about his stay here) then there was no stopping me! The inclusion onto the Green List is testament to the low number of current infection rates on the island and their successful vaccination roll-out over the last few months. Entry protocols are easy, simply put fully vaccinated travellers are just required to show a negative Covid test before boarding and another taken on arrival. Known for some of the most open and inviting luxurious hotels, spacious beaches and rich culture and history, Barbados lends itself as the perfect post pandemic travel destination.
Below are a few of the highlights of my recent stay:
Barbados has two distinctive coasts, the calm Caribbean west coast with narrow sugar sand beaches and aqua marine waters, my favourite was Mullins Beach an idyllic spot to soak up those Bajan beach vibes. The East Coast with the wild Atlantic pounding its shores couldn’t be more different. I’d highly recommend hiring a car and exploring this rugged and picturesque landscape.
St Nicholas Abbey
A tour of the north of the island wouldn’t be complete without a visit to St Nicholas Abbey and one of Barbados’s top attractions. One of the oldest homes on the island, and one of three Jacobean mansions left standing in the world, the Abbey is a stunning relic of Barbados’ past. Lovingly restored by the Warren Family, the historic home boasts rum tastings, tours of the 17th century home and for railway buffs a heritage railway experience. The Cave family, owned St. Nicholas Abbey for nearly 200 years, largely as absentee landowners. The plantation ran under management of an overseer, producing sugar and syrup at the plantation’s mill. The family made periodic visits to the property and in 1935 Charles J P Cave filmed an absolutely charming home movie which is now shown in the great house and is an absolute must-see. It provides a glimpse of plantation life as well as the mill in operation during the height of the sugar cane season and will bring back happy memories I’m sure for many, of the clothes and manners of our parents and grandparents.
Keen gardeners will enjoy a visit to Hunte’s Gardens, full of rare exotic plants, exquisitely arranged with wonderful flair and artistry. The wizard who created it, Anthony Hunte has for many years been one of the leading horticulturists on the island and his storytelling and potent rum punch are not to be missed. You’ll need to be able to manage a fair few steps but taking a leisurely stroll through the tall palm trees of what once was a regular gully is a wonderfully peaceful and serene way to spend a morning.
Bushy Park Circuit
I’m gradually ticking off my bucket list experiences, although forever adding new ones including riding as a passenger in a racing car, 4 terrifying 100 mph miles around Bushy Park Barbados Circuit and a world away for the tranquillity of Hunte’s Gardens. You don’t need to be a petrol head to enjoy Bushy Park, the leading circuit-racing facility in the English-speaking Caribbean. You’re kitted up in a suit (mine blue and sadly not Ferrari red) and helmet, so you look the part, with the car a Radical SR3 driven by a professional driver. It’s a noisy and thrilling ride and something that’ll seriously impress any grandchildren who ask what you did on your tropical island holiday. Watch those jaws drop.
A walking tour of historic Bridgetown’s City Centre & Exchange Museum
If you can tear yourself away from the beach, historic Bridgetown’s city centre, Exchange Museum and the Garrison Historic area are well worth a visit. The Exchange Museum is housed within a beautifully restored 18th century building which has served many purposes over the years including being a school and Masonic Lodge. It’s where I posed with a model of Rebecca Pringle and learned more about the fascinating story of this Afro-Barbadian hotelier.
Rum Vault at Colony Club
Barbados is considered the birthplace of rum and Mount Gay distillery founded in 1703 is believed to produce the oldest rum found anywhere in the world. The Rum Vault at The Colony Club hotel is the first of its kind in Barbados and features 150 rums from around the globe and a 3-course storied rum dinner. On my first night I enjoyed being informed and entertained about all things rum from rum ambassador Corey Sobers whilst feasting on rum glazed pork belly paired with spiced sorrel rum sour followed by a coconut crusted red snapper paired with The Fennel Act (Mount Gay Silver, fennel and ginger syrup with lime). Also, for the first time in my life, I not unsurprisingly suffered no jet lag and slept through the night.
Barbados has no shortage of hotels from very small and intimate boutique hotels to large resort hotels. I was a guest of Elegant Hotels Barbados and stayed at two of their properties Colony Club and The House. Colony Club is a timeless retreat, restored from a former private colonial club, replete with soaring palm trees and lagoon-style pools amongst its seven acres of serene tropical gardens. Garden rooms are all on one level and metres from a gently shelving beach and the warm waters of the Caribbean. The House is a luxury, all-inclusive adults only (no noisy children splashing in the pool disturbing your latest Ian Rankin) resort and perfect for romance and relaxation.
At last, we are able to turn our lockdown dreams into reality and if you’re hoping for a last little taste of summer or wanting to run for the sun as winter approaches, then Barbados is very much back in business.
For general information on Barbados visit www.visitbarbados.org