Sandals Royal Barbados, an all-new retreat in the spirited St. Lawrence Gap area, offers undeniable luxury with inventive accommodations spanning three unique villages, world-class cuisine with international appeal, including a festive Indian cuisine restaurant, and innovative bar and pool designs. Our Chief Laura Bartlett recently went to unwind to the relaxed calypso beat, enjoy the sun & surf and explore the sexiness of their suites, an abode designed with your utmost comfort in mind and featuring everything from ocean views. Here’s how that went…
Anyone who knows me, knows how in love I am with Barbados. The very mention of the name makes me want to float away to the sound of gentle waves and the smell of that tropical sea breeze. And the rum, don’t even get me started on the rum.
But before the powder white sand beaches, the turquoise waters, the heritage, the culture, the food (and rum) – the thing I like the most about Barbados is the people. A few years ago, while visiting the Sandals resort in Barbados, I met a man named Rodney. I never told him this, but he made me fall in love with the place. At that point I knew I had to be back, and it had to be here.
Straddling the white sands of Dover Beach is Sandals Barbados and Sandals Royal, two connected resorts which are easily accessible to one another, meaning you get a giant mega-trip for the price of paying for just one resort. Combined, Sandals encompasses six pools, five whirlpools, 12 bars and an astonishing 18 restaurants – which means an average two week trip would literally not have time to dine in a different place each evening, and that’s before you’ve even left the resort.
Usually, that’s what we’d condone, a bit of exploring, but there’s a magic at Sandals that draws you in. It’s also completely all inclusive, and it would take a few village worth of people to drag me away from a bottomless bar.
The resort is a beautifully landscaped Eden of glittering pools (do like us and make a B-Line straight for the pool with the bar inside), with waterfalls and hibiscus growing everywhere you look. Poolside fire pit and swinging love seats certainly make for a romantic getaway, but it’s not too much that you’d feel awkward sat on one with your Gran. Sandals Royal (the newer side of the resort) is also a first for many things, including a rooftop pool (an infinity pool, no less), a bowling alley, a craft beer garden and even a donut shop. Fun fact, out of all the Sandals resorts throughout the world, it’s this one that comes top of the popularity list with the Brits… that’ll explain the bowling alley.
Room types come in 14 different categories, but luxury is a standard throughout. Even the most basic rooms here are easily on par with the more expensive offering from other hotels. Every room is a testament to Barbados, with cool sea blue soft furnishings and prints of little green monkeys on the walls.
Depending on which room you stay in, the hotel will give you a phone which accesses your very own, round-the-clock butler to summon for your any need. It sounds a bit la-de-da, but staff at Sandals resorts worldwide have a can-do attitude in a league of its own. The butlers are actually trained by the Guild of Professional English Butlers whose alumni host guests in some of the lavish hotels in the world, London’s The Ritz and the Bellagio in Las Vegas to name a couple.
The only stressful thing about the resort is trying to decide which luxurious restaurant to eat dinner at, although if you ask nicely, your butler can probably just decide this for you. Sandals is completely void of pretension, so when nighttime comes, it’s completely your call. One night you can be dining in a luxurious high end restaurant, dressed up to see where the night will take you, and the next you can be chilling by the pool eating chicken from the jerk shack.
It’s safe to say that when there’s a party in Barbados, everybody gets involved, and nobody loves a party more than the Sandals staff. Pool parties are sure to include all the reggae music you can dance to, and when the music stops you’re encouraged to keep your own party going. Ours was in the form of a travel speaker, but it didn’t stop our favourite staff from joining in the fun.
One of these favourites was Raquelle from the bar. The only thing more fun than her were the cocktails she was shaking up. If there’s a ‘must-try’ here it’s got to be the appropriately named Bob Marley, full of bright colours and lots (and lots) of rum.
As much as Sandals love a party, it’s also a perfect place to relax. Also, when they say all-inclusive, they mean the activities too (minus spa treatments, and diving is only included for qualified divers), so we had our own masterclass with a sailboat. After a lesson with a qualified pro, the boat is yours for the taking which makes for an incredible, and sometimes slightly surreal, memory. If you need a little more throttle between your legs (pardon the pun), you can swap the sailboat for a jet-ski with the help of some of the locals, which is a slightly different, higher energy experience.
But above everything – above the cocktails, the infinity pool, the sailboats and the gourmet food, it’s the memory of being reunited with my old pal Rodney that will stick with me forever.
Well, until next time anyway.