I had the opportunity to visit Barbados, a majestic island in the Caribbean northeast of Venezuela. It is an independent British Commonwealth nation.
The island encompasses 166 square miles, and it’s mostly flat, but does have some mountainous areas which are over 1,100 feet above sea level. The water is turquoise blue and crystal clear while the beaches feature a white/pink sand. The capital city is Bridgetown, while Speightown, Holetown and Oistins are also frequently visited by tourists. The major exports of the island include hard liquor and sugar. There is one airport on the island, Grantley Adams International, that is easily accessible from most major east coast U.S. cities by American Airlines and Jet Blue, to name a few. You will need a valid U.S. Passport to enter the country. The official language is English while Bajan is also widely spoken.
The national currency is Barbados dollars, which are widely accepted along with American dollars. The exchange rate is approximately 2 for 1. $1 American will get you $2 Barbados dollars.
There are six golf courses on the island from which to choose. Two of the most popular are the courses at Sandy Lane, named The Country Club and The Green Monkey.
Grantley Adams International Airport
I was warmly greeted upon my arrival from Miami International airport. Going through customs via Fast Track was a breeze. I had luggage in hand and was on my way to my resort within 15 minutes of touching down. The airport is clean, colorful and airy while the people are friendly. The food court offered many options for one’s palette. Note: either bring cash or a major credit card as the airlines do not accept digital payments. It was a pleasant experience and a great way to start my adventure.
Crane Resort in Saint Philip
I arrived at the Resort at 10 p.m. and was expedited to my room. A young man took my luggage and guided me the short distance from the Reception area. Along the way I passed by a beautiful, well lit pool area which consisted of three large pools and a bar area.
Once entering my ocean front one-bedroom suite, I was immediately impressed with the large bedroom that featured a two post queen size bed. The master bath consisted of a Jacuzzi tub and an oversized, glass enclosed shower. There was a full kitchen if you choose to eat in and a washer/dryer combo in the room, perfect for those who are staying an extended period. The view from the living area is breathtaking, facing southeast, perfect for those morning sunrises on the oversized veranda. Venture up to the rooftop floor, accessed by your personal in-room spiral staircase, and you are treated to an outdoor kitchen, loungers and your own personal soaking tub overlooking the ocean. Sweet.
Food choices at the Resort are plentiful and the views from the restaurants are amazing. Every meal was carefully prepared to my liking and quite tasteful. In the Resort’s Village area there are small shops that are great for window shopping and small convenience areas to pick up those small items that you may have left behind when packing your suitcases.
Stay and play options are available at www.thecrane.com
Sam Lord’s Castle
Named after the island’s infamous buccaneer Sam Lord, this 422-room ocean front luxury hotel has been built on historic grounds on Barbados’ southeastern shore. Now owned by Wyndham Grand Resort, the newly renovated family destination offers upscale rooms and suites, fine dining options, an ocean front pool and bar options, a fitness center and a day spa.
Remnants of Lord’s original castle still remain on the property.
For more information visit www.slcwyndham.com and download their brochure.
Located in the central highlands of the island is the popular attraction named Harrison’s Cave. Here you can explore the underground natural beauty of this limestone cave, which is 2.3 kilometers in length and 15 meters at its highest point. Once inside, the inquisitive traveler will find active crystallized formations, towering columns and pools of crystal clear water. You will ride through this wonder on a tram with a tour guide offering insightful information along the way. Hairnets and hard hats are required, which are supplied.
For those looking for more, there is also zip lining, a bird aviary, and a swimming pool and bar area. At the end of your adventure, experience the Mount Gay rum tour and sample some of the local favorites! A must do for those exploring the island for the first time!
For more information visit www.chukka.com
Bajan Bus Tour
Looking for a fun and upbeat way to experience what the island has to offer then look no further than booking a trip on the Bajan Bus tour. These colorful busses have been artfully restored and offer seating for up to 30 occupants. Skilled tour guides will show you highlights of the island that are only accessible from the open aired bus. Another must do when you are visiting Barbados. Even the locals give it five stars!
Sandy Lane Golf Course
Designed by famed golf architect Tom Fazio, this 7,060 yard, par-72 gem is a must play when staying on the island. The course features five lakes and impeccable views of the Caribbean Sea. From the moment that you enter the grounds this place screams quality. A beautiful array of flowers and manicured landscaping guides you to the clubhouse. Once entering, you are treated to a breathtaking view of 18th hole and the sea. The open air restaurant and bar area afford a memorable view of your surroundings. The pro shop is without a doubt one of the finest I have ever set foot in. Bring your wallet as it is near impossible to walk through there without picking up some of your golf essentials or souvenirs to take back home.
Amenities include a 450-yard driving range, oversized putting and practice bunker area, locker rooms and shoe and club rentals.
From tee to green the conditions are flawless. A cart and caddie are required to play. My caddie, Michael “Apple” P., gave me sound advice on the type of shot to hit and putting lines all day. That left it up to me to focus on just executing the stroke. Many times I didn’t “see” what he did but low and behold Michael was spot on. On the back nine I had learned to trust his knowledge and instinct. By the way, the carts do have built in GPS to aid the golfer with club choices.
The course is relatively wide open and I played all 18 holes without losing a ball (I am a 14 handicap). There was a choice of five tee boxes to accommodate players of all skill levels. I chose the middle (blue) tee box, which played slightly over 6,500 yards.
If I had to pick a few of my favorite holes I would say numbers 3, 9 and 18 stood out. Hole 3 is a manageable par-four that allows the average player to hit a short iron into a large sloping green. Sounds easy but the real challenge is navigating a large tree that one must hit over on their approach shot. If lucky enough, you will witness one of the many monkeys that live on the course while playing this hole (hint: bring small pieces of banana with you!).
Holes 9 and 18 offer stunning views of the clubhouse in the near distance. Number 9 is a picturesque par-three that requires a well-placed mid-iron into an undulating green, while number 18 is a formidable par-five that allows the player a par opportunity with three well played shots to end their day.
Visit www.sandylane.com/barbados-golf for more information and pricing options.
8th Annual Barbados Jazz Festival
The 8th annual Barbados Jazz Excursion and Golf weekend, which was hosted by Sam Lord’s Castle Resort and Spa, was held October 12-15. The purpose of the festival is to raise funds for the “Never Lose Your Drive Foundation”, which sponsors scholarships for music education on the island.
The event was sponsored by Elan Trotman who was born and raised in Barbados. Trotman was educated at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. He is now an Associate Professor at the school as well as a philanthropist.
Featured artists who performed over the weekend were Peabo Bryson, Regina Belle, Chris Spencer, The Nicholas Brancker Band, Flex Alexander, Everette Harp, Elan Trotman, Adam Hawley, Kellie Cadogan, Ch’An, Jazz in Pink, Kweku Jelani and DJ Sapphire.
The main event was a concert held on the main stage at llaro Court, which is the official residence of the Prime Minister of Barbados. Concertgoers were treated to an eclectic mix of contemporary jazz and R&B classics that lasted for 3 and a half hours.
It was a busy and fun trip to one of the Caribbean’s most beautiful and action packed islands.