My friend Meg's special birthday prompted a trip down memory lane, to visit Barbados, where we had both worked as teachers many years before. This experience had been magical for us both and although we knew the island would be very different, we just couldn't wait to find out for ourselves.
My school was in the heart of Bridgetown and Meg's was close to the airport, and we lived for that special year on the south coast, in Rockley. We wanted to visit our old haunts but for our holiday chose to be based on the Platinum Coast, where all those years ago, we had relaxed, partied and frequently sneaked into the posh hotels to soak up the sun in style.
For our arrival, we had arranged an amazing Fast Track service and were whisked through Passport Control and Customs at great speed, and en route to our hotel in no time. It is worth that little extra to avoid long queues so thanks to St James Travel and Tours for their excellent service.
The Club Barbados Resort and Spa was the hotel we chose for our holiday. It is perfectly located on the stunning Platinum Coast, within walking distance of Holetown, a cute town with some lovely shops and beach bars. The Club Barbados is an "Adults Only" resort, with excellent facilities and an all Inclusive board arrangement. On checking in, we felt we had really arrived back on our special island, when we received that warm Bajan welcome. The Club's greatest asset is their staff, who without exception do their utmost to make guests feel at home. It was common to see mutual affection when guests were leaving or returning to the hotel.
There is no doubt that tourism has greatly increased to Barbados since the time we were there, and the standard of local cuisine and fare compares with London's best. The top end restaurants are expensive so an All Inclusive arrangement was perfect for us. We did venture beyond The Club, to sample Fish Friday at Oistins, the islands most famous fishing port and a big tourist night out. We were also invited to lunch at the Barbados Yacht Club and chose to eat at the reputable restaurant, Daphne's one evening, for a treat.
We were very pleasantly surprised with The Club's main restaurant, Sunset. It offered much more than the usual buffet and at first glance, I believed it to be an a la carte restaurant. Sunset Restaurant faces the beach; tables are elegantly dressed with white table cloths and napkins at lunch and dinner. Most evenings guests can choose from selection of dishes on the menu. They also offer themed evenings, a barbeque or select local or international dishes from the buffet. The food was very good.
The wines served in the bars and restaurants were imported from California, Chile and Spain. Quality reigned throughout. The cocktails were also made to order and a must at sunset. The obvious favourites and whisked in a jiffy are Rum Punch and Planters Punch. (Wonderful memories came to mind of hard working days with the children, followed by cocktails at sunset and nights of music and dancing.)
Bookings for dinner in the Sunset Restaurant, or the hotel's lovely a la carte restaurant Enid's are taken at breakfast time. The cuisine in Enid's reminded us of favourite Bajan dishes we had enjoyed so much during our teaching days. Although Enid's doesn't offer the view of the Sunset, the colourful interior is cosy and reflects the charm of a Caribbean chattel house.
On our first visit to Enid's, where the menu changes each Tuesday, Meg chose the Island Blue Crab Cakes, garnished with cucumber pickle and pepper coulis – her view simply delicious with a perfect balance of ingredients. Crunchy Chicken Wings with a guava sauce were too tempting for me to resist and I wasn't disappointed.
The fish of the day, Mahi Mahi, blackened and served with a sauce and fresh vegetables, was a delight; it is difficult to beat a fresh catch, cooked to perfection.
Our meal finished with a mouth watering Bajan Trifle, full of cream, tropical fruit and as one would expect, laced with Mount Gay rum. It was a perfect ending to a delicious dinner- the only thing left to do was head to the bar for a night cap!
When the menu changed we returned to Enid's and by chance a friend had surprised us with a birthday treat for Meg, a bottle of Veuve Clicquot, chilling in champagne bucket beside the table. Dinner was once more full of delicacies, with appetizers of Seafood and Avocado Salad and Caesar Salad, served with Goujons of fish and a zesty dressing. The Molasses Glazed Pork Loin was our choice for our main course, served with braised red cabbage and a Mount Gay Rum sauce, and Bajan Herb Fried Chicken which came stuffed with peas and rice and a honey grain mustard sauce – it makes my mouth water remembering just how good the food tasted.
With such excellent food served in both the Sunset and of course Enid's Restaurants, there is no need to go beyond The Club to eat, unless as mentioned you want to sample some local Bajan life.
We did enjoy swimming once again in the warm Caribbean Sea, and spent time working off the calories in the swimming pool and gym. Life in the hotel revolves around the pool areas and of course the beach.
Our trip down memory lane was a wonderful blend of past and present and we fell in love with Barbados again. The Club Barbados Resort and Spa is a great place to stay, and a homely base from where you can experience the island's many attractions. The resort excels in all aspects of service, from the genuine welcome of their staff the facilities on offer and the wonderful cuisine. Everything we tasted was fresh, tasty and served with a smile. It is a great choice for singles or couples – you will not be disappointed with this typically Bajan resort - so go see for yourself.