I am entomophobic. I’m not talking seeing a bug, screaming, summoning up the courage to kill it and moving on with my life. I have it BAD. I once took my Marshmallow (may she rest in peace) for her afternoon walk when I lived in Atlanta where all sorts of mutant insect species exist, and when we got back to my house, there was a bug hanging out on my front door daring me to enter. After crying and having existential thoughts, I did what any logical person would do. I went to my neighbor’s door and when I realized he wasn’t at home, I stood outside and waited a little over an hour for him to arrive and rescue me. The creature was probably the size of a pebble, but in my terrified eyes, it could have easily been mistaken for a dragon.
One of the items on my bucket list is to spend an extended amount of time in another country for a minimum of 8 weeks. I am fortunate to have a job where I can work from anywhere in the world but each time I start making plans, the entomophobia kicks in and my first thought is, “who is going to kill bugs for me?!” I spend much too much time contemplating the bug-to-human ratio. As the Caribbean is first on the list, I often wonder which island would present me with the best combination of what I seek. I am a young and active woman so it is imperative that:
A) The beaches are beautiful and there be good snorkeling
B) There is enough to do to keep me entertained
C) There is a low propensity to run into dragons
You can only imagine my elation when I discovered that not only does Barbados have all of the above, but I did not see a SINGLE bug during my trip!!! Not one. (I am sure they exist there but please don’t rain on my parade).
I often get lost in conversation with clients, taking up way too much time discussing everything I love about a destination: an excursion I took, a delectable dish that must be tried, the best beach(es), easier roads to maneuver on… I usually have to be hushed back into reality. There’s good reason though! It is because each time I travel somewhere I have not yet been, I fall in love. Once I have planted my flag and claimed a destination as my favorite, it gets knocked down to the bottom when I take the next trip. Turks & Caicos held its ground for me for a long time for no other reason than the beaches. I have had better food, there definitely is not enough to do on the island [for me] to spend a great amount of time there but the incredible beaches made those facts irrelevant. Turks has been dethroned and I have planted my flag on new territory: Barbados.
I will bypass the flight troubles I experienced in Miami with American Airlines (it is rumored that Jet Blue is working on offering flights out of Ft. Lauderdale, which would be most amazing) but I reached Barbados in the evening and after making a pit stop for nourishment, my driver dropped me safely at my first accommodation in Paynes Bay at Chanel No. 5 within Mahogany Bay Townhomes. What a lovely property! Can I just mention that the minute I flicked on the light, I noticed that the townhome had Caribbean-style windows at either side of the front door and I panicked? Luckily, there were no creatures. A wave of relief came over me and once my mind was unclogged, the sounds of the waves crashing onto the shore filled my ears and transported me to a place of peace and relaxation. I was surprised by the size of the townhome as I was not expecting it to be as massive as it was. There is plenty of room for family and friends to enjoy being with one another, not to mention immediate beach access just out the back door. Paynes Bay is wonderful – white sand, turquoise water… the perfect combination. After hauling my bag up 38 steps to the master suite on the top floor, I settled in for the evening and was excited to view the island in the light of day.
The days that followed were filled with property tours and sunshine. Though it was hot, Barbados has a steady stream of amazing breezes that actually made the temperature cooler than it was in South Florida where I reside. This made touring much more enjoyable for me. I have traveled to many destinations, viewing a ton of villas throughout the years and not every villa invokes a reaction. With some, you kind of tilt your head and give a half smile and others, you look unto with wide eyes and wonder when you might win the lottery to buy or build such a place. I found that the properties [I viewed] held such a high standard and there was something engaging about each, not to mention every staff member I met was extremely professional and treated me as though I was a client. I saw first-hand why so many guests befriend the staff and view them as family.
I am usually drawn to modern, more high-tech villas but I have a soft spot for the older, restored villas as well, such as Mullins Mill. While walking the grounds, the house manager shared with me that the entrance maintains its original steps. The owner refuses to have it any other way. I love that! I adore how many of the villas have these expansive yards with beautiful gardens (the perfect place for kids to turn off the electronics and enjoy being a kid OUTSIDE); some have fountains and others, koi ponds that complete the ambiance. Still, no matter if you are on or off of the beach, no matter the size of the pool or the way the wind blows, what makes these villas special is the attention to detail and care of the professional staff.
Bon Vivant in Sandy Lane Estates offers a private fruit and vegetable garden where clients can enjoy prepared meals with the freshest of ingredients. Despite being a 9 BDR villa, it still maintains a sense of intimacy. I really like that you don’t feel like the space is too large – at least I didn’t! Don’t let me start talking about the incredible staff at Bon Vivant as I will go on and on! Sublime!
Gardenia is unbelievable. The land resembles an enchanted garden and the villa is so appropriately named. The beautiful interiors are equally matched by the villa’s exquisite exterior. Sadly, Gardenia is currently on the market so select dates are being rented at this time. My advice: TAKE ADVANTAGE WHILE YOU CAN and rent Gardenia!
Crystal Springs, Greensleeves, Landfall (an episode of Made In Chelsea was filmed in Barbados and villa Landfall was its main backdrop)… the list of amazing villas goes on! I know what you’re thinking… “Of course she will like all of the high-end villas.” Luckily, there are rental options for any budget! I was introduced to Bora Bora, a beautiful 2 BDR which rents together or separate (upper and lower levels). I plan to bring my mother here one day, and it’s not just because I cannot afford the other options on my own – ha! It is such a charming space with direct beach access, and it is convenient to Holetown. Belair is a six bedroom property right on Mullins Bay – you cannot beat this location! Belair made me smile – a great option for a family or a group of friends that wants to hang out at the beach all day and pay a reasonable rate to do so! You know what else I really loved? (I am not a hippie but I have hippie tendencies. I love everything). Royal Westmoreland. What a lovely resort! It is larger than I imagined, with many sub-divisions within the community. There is also a complimentary shuttle that takes guests to and from Mullins Beach. Sugar Cane Ridge offers an incredible rate for the caliber of the property. It sits directly next to Coral Blu for larger groups who want to be close to each other. There are, however, larger options available as well.
*Ask me about more of my favorite villas!*
When I wasn’t touring, I was mastering driving on the opposite side of the road and familiarizing myself with the island. I drove coast to coast and everywhere in between (the “in between” was accidental). There is one main highway that runs along the west coast, known as the “coastal road/highway” or “Highway 1”. One thing I will mention is that you must have patience. Set your watch to Caribbean time. Buses will make frequent stops so you can often get trapped behind them. Venture to the center of the island if, and only if, you are good with roundabouts and don’t suffer from anxiety. Otherwise, do not enter!
Additionally during my downtime, I got wonderfully lost while searching for the Wildlife Preserve. I did not panic, I did not stop for directions. I whipped out my map and found my way. Nearly every local was extremely impressed with my ability to maneuver about, considering I flew solo on this trip. Finding the Preserve was so worth it! I was surrounded by Green monkeys, turtles, peacocks (I did not approach as I was once chased by a street gang of peacocks in Utah but that’s another story for another time), among others.
It is odd that Barbados does not see as many American tourists as it does Canadian and European. America, get on board! You have no idea what you are missing. Seriously.
The favorite parts of my trip in no particular order:
- Oistins Fish Fry on Friday nights (Do yourself a favor and get here, fast! Use as much pepper sauce as you can possibly handle and wash everything down with Banks, the local beer.)
- Driving on the opposite side of the road on the opposite side of the car
- Getting lost
- Calabaza Snorkeling Excursion (Amazing staff, beautiful sea creatures, good food, great fun!)
- The people (Friendliest. Island. Ever.)
I cannot stress enough how Barbados has become my current favorite. I am already making plans to return. There is much more to experience that I was not able to get to – seeing as how this was a business trip. I’d like to visit St. Nicholas Abbey and the Rum Distillery, the Steam Mill; I’d like to explore Harrison’s Cave and also, Animal Flower Cave in St. Lucy.
There is loads of fun waiting for you on the beautiful island of Barbados. If you need me, you know where to find me…
(Stayed tuned for my write-up on west vs. south coast!)