There is a gentleman here that is on his 69th visit to the resort. 69! I couldn’t imagine picking the same nail colour that amount of times let alone committing to a hotel in this way.
Ashley, 28, has returned to The Club Barbados Resort and Spa with her whole family – they came here 10 years in a row for their family holidays when Ashley was younger. Now her and her sister have grown up, her sister has married, and so the new husband has come to The Club with them too. Ashley recognises most of the staff and a good number of the guests too, “It’s like a set of Neighbours’, she laughs.
The Club was known as The Almond back when these guests first came. Today The Club Barbados Resort and Spa has retained many of the aspects these repeat guests love as well as introducing some of the Elite Island Resorts (the new owners) style and activities. The new management are listening to their repeat guests (Note to Manager: Ashley says please can you bring back Karaoke in the Piano Bar) but are also reaching out to new guests, like the way they now offer hosted tables at dinner for the solo travellers.
But what makes these guests come back, 10, 20, 69 times? I can think of a few reasons why.
The Club Barbados is situated in the prestigious parish of St James, right next door to the island’s most well known (and most expensive) property Sandy Lane. It’s a beachfront resort which means the sea facing rooms (like mine) come with jaw dropping views of the Caribbean Sea. Every evening I would sit on my balcony to watch the sunset and be reminded that this is a special place.
The beach in front of the hotel is quite compact, most of it has been cleverly used to house the hotel’s main restaurant, the self-explanatorily named Sunset Restaurant. All beaches in Barbados are public though so by just moving to the hotel’s left or right you can set yourself up on your own piece of perfect beach.
Just outside the hotel walls is Holetown – home to the chocolate box cute Chattel Village, the sparkly luxury lifestyle mall LimeGrove and top quality restaurant The Tides (more to come on these places soon). Sunsets, shops, and sand all on your doorstep – that’s a big tick in my ‘location’ box.
The Club Barbados is also spectacularly placed to visit some of the local hardback heroes. As I mentioned in my previous post one of the highlights of my week was getting to swim with the loggerhead turtles who live just off the coast from The Club. The hotel runs regular small boat trips out to visit them, with a stop off for some super snorkelling also just off shore from the hotel. If you would prefer to just take a mini cruise instead of getting in the water the Watersports team can take you out for a free ride along the coast.
Uniquely for a Caribbean all-inclusive resort The Club only offers an evening buffet meal twice per week. The rest of the time dinner is served a la carte in the Sunset Restaurant. Guests must book a table at the restaurant for each evening, thus ensuring you don’t have to queue at the door, but also that there is a more formal feeling to the evenings proceedings (there is also a dress code – no legs or feet on show for the men please!). The food was invariably fantastic; from jerk pork to Bajan curries and giant lobsters (an optional extra), I cleared my plate each night. At Enid’s, the secondary restaurant on site, you can enjoy a whole menu of typical Bajan fare in a tropical coloured setting.
It’s no secret I’m a big fan of tea and cake so I was delighted as well as surprised to discover the hotel also offers a sit down Afternoon Tea every day of the week. Tables with white cloths and elegant cutlery are laid out in the afternoon and with no need to book in advance, you can just plonk yourself in one of the seats and be treated to finger sandwiches, pastries, scones and cream. A very British tradition served in the Bajan sunshine!
The Club have very recently hired a new activities team, the bouncy bright duo of Cole and Latonya. They put on a schedule of activities everyday to suit all tastes: stretch in the morning, aqua aerobics in the pool, rum tasting in the rum shop and Caribbean dancing for the very brave. For the foodies you can take a cookery class in Enid’s to cook and then consume a traditional local dish, and for the boozies (like me!) a pop up Mojito bar magically appeared by the pool one day.
The Club is a very relaxed resort so will never find the activities coaches getting in your face or making you feel bad for not taking part, but if you are looking for something to do they are there for you. The resort issues a newsletter on a Sunday referencing what will take part during the week ahead and I recommend you hold onto your copy of this (there is also a daily resort induction which I highly recommend you attend so you can find out about things like the Afternoon Tea and trips to the turtles.)
There is also a gym (relatively small but fully functional) and a spa on site. If you feel like you need to iron out a few kinks after the flight then seek out Ernest. He was my therapist for a Swedish massage and knew how to apply just the right level of pressure to make my back and shoulders feel good again.
For the guests that have visited several times the resort must feel like a second home. They greet Kevin from Guest Relations in a giant bear hug like a long lost relative. Staff knew their favourite time to eat and the cook remembers how they like their meat. But you don’t have to have been to the hotel a million times for this treatment. After just a few days most of the staff knew me and my friend by our first names. They enquired after the health of her bump (she’s pregnant) and knew before we asked what time we would prefer to eat. The resort isn’t massive so it doesn’t take long for staff and guests to become familiar with you, and you them.
Some evenings, although we had each other, my friend and I would join either Latonya or Cole as they hosted the solo travellers table for the night. The evenings were always filled with interesting conversations and unexpected connections. I like this kind of resort where you can travel alone but never feel lonely.
For me there was another way I could become quickly familiar with the resort – I was part of a 4-blogger team relay visiting here. Before arriving I had already made note of the things I was bursting to do after reading about them on the blogs of Travel With A Mate and Inside the Travel Lab. Matt’s post on the turtles and Abi’s photos of the sunsets had got me daydreaming about The Club long before I even arrived. Then when I got to the resort Abi was there waiting to share her tips, like letting me know I needed to book a table for dinner, and this was something I could impart to Niamh from Eat Like A Girl when she arrived. (Be sure to check out her blog as she has been having all sorts of culinary adventures both in and out of resort and she will share the recipes with you!)
The Caribbean can be expensive, Barbados especially so. You’d be hard pressed to find a resort on the West Coast with sea views, table service meals, afternoon teas and a wide range of activities for less than £1100 for 7 nights all-inclusive. But that’s what The Club Barbados Resort and Spa offers. And that to me has got to be a key factor in why the guests just keep coming back, time and time again.
I visited The Club Barbados Resort and Spa as part of a four-blogger ‘blogathon’ team. Thanks to Elite Island and The Club Barbados Resort and Spa for organizing and hosting this brilliant project and to the co-sponsors Tropical Sky. Thanks also to Barbados Tourism. Subscribe here to be kept up to date with more details of the Barbados Blogathon, coming soon!