By Villa Specialist, Lauren Jenkins
My friends and family poke fun at me and say that every time I come home from a work trip, I claim that the island/country I have just returned from is my favorite! I defend myself by reminding them that I am a destination specialist and that every destination has to speak to me or else I would not be good at my job – and not to anyone’s surprise… Barbados spoke to me – actually it yelled at me. 🙂
Grantley Adams International Airport is big and quite nice. It is located about a 30-45 minute taxi ride to most of the villas on the island (or on the West Coast at least). In planning for the Travel Keys Barbados trip we were given arrival documents just as our guests get for each rental. In these papers we found all of the necessary information to make sure our trip went fluidly! First, we knew to look for someone outside the airport with our names on a sign! This was the transfer service our concierge had set up to take us to our villa! He was really nice (as was every single person we met on the island) and he drove quickly through the island while giving us information on where and what to eat for our first meal on the island! It is easy to see why in general we have guests’ cars delivered to their villas. There are A LOT of roads – and the ride from the airport to the West Coast is a busy ride full of roundabouts and craziness. I believe starting and ending the trip without the stress of driving is a must!
Our taxi driver dropped us off at the gated and beautiful Coral Cove 5 – Shutters unit, located on Paynes Bay just south of Holetown. We were first greeted by the awesome teddy bear of a security guard, Romeo, and then by, our manager, Vicki, showed us everything we needed to know, and were told our rental car would be delivered at 5 p.m. That gave us one hour to eat and get back to the villa/condo to meet our car rental man! That one hour was very important – within 5 minutes the laid-back Barbados experience was already settling inside us. We ran down to ask Romeo where we could walk to get a quick meal. He told us to hop on one of the crazy yellow/blue buses that went flying by every 5 minutes and ask them to drop us off at “Just Grillin” – you don’t ask a man like Romeo for advice and not take it. As we walked out of the gate we saw the bus flying around the corner and we ran for it. $1 each and we took a fun and fast 3 minute ride into Holetown to eat at the oh-so-yummy “Just Grillin”. Garry ordered some chicken and I went with the infamous Dolphin, which I was very relieved to hear WAS NOT Flipper but rather something like Mahi Mahi. The Bajan Hot Pepper Sauce and Banks Beer (the official beer of Barbados) could not have complemented the rice and peas, grilled veggies and grilled “Dolphin” any better!
After a peaceful night’s sleep we were geared up and ready to meet our hostess and partner in Barbados! We arrived at the office early to meet the crew and prepare ourselves for the next full days of villa viewing. We saw so many different properties and met so many wonderful staff members it is very tough to pick favorites; but there is one thing I know we can both say with confidence: the villas and condo units on the island are seemingly impossible to capture in a photo. Everything was bigger/better/brighter than we thought going into the tour.
Why go to Barbados: Beaches, Swimming, Surfing, Shopping, Eating, Drinking Rum, Horse Races, Golf, Nightlife, Oistins Fish Fry, Harrison’s Cave – the list goes on and on!
Who should go to Barbados: Everyone! This island has everything necessary to be the perfect family destination. The girls can go duty free shopping in Bridgetown or in the new and incredibly trendy Limegrove Lifestyle Center located in the heart of Holetown. Limegrove is close to the majority of the villas on the West Coast and it offers luxury boutiques, cafés, bars, restaurants, art galleries and more. It is a shopper’s paradise! Shopping is not the only luxury pastime – people come from all over to golf at one of several famous golf courses or to simply relax on the beach!
The best meal: Just Grillin – it was a lovely little spot just minutes up from our condo on Paynes Bay and just South of Holetown. The menu was very traditional in cuisine. I went with rice and peas, potatoes, grilled veggies and Dolphin for my meal. It was perfect! I loved everything about this place and the prices were not bad either.
When I felt the most happy: Each villa has a head of staff who takes care of the villa as if it is their own all year. I found this to be very unique. I loved the way the “maid” cared so very much about his/her villa. Each claimed to be the best cook on the island and told us how they had the best welcome meal for every guest who stays with them. I think the happy outlook and pride in their work truly makes the experience “the best” for each guest at each villa.
Best nightlife: Everyone says you have to do Oistins Friday Night Fish Fry – they are right! We were lucky to go with two locals on island and had the very best time eating, dancing in the streets and – dare I say it – doing Karaoke until the morning hours! This was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. It was new and exciting! I am lucky to be able to travel for work and to see new things all the time. I can say, however, that to find an experience that is new and not just the setting is very rare.
Barbados filled me up and made me happy. Going back to the desk after these trips is hard – no more touring villas in the sun or dancing in the streets. It is back to the keyboard and telephones. I can say, however, that I am thrilled when I get to talk to someone who calls in wondering if they should go to Barbados or not. Each time I get to share my knowledge and love for the island and the villas I feel warm and happy. Fortunately, this is what I do for a living so when my day is busy and stressed, it is almost guaranteed that a phone call or email is coming to thank me for helping a perfect vacation take place. There is no other feeling like it, and each time I receive the follow-up I feel like I am back on the island again!