August 2005by Doug Snow
We were taken care of exceptionally well at Sandalo when it came to meals, but that didn't keep us from venturing out to restaurants from time to time to sample the local atmosphere and relish a change of pace. Invariably we would end up in Holetown, a little village in the middle of St. James parish just to the north of Sandy Lane known affectionately as the "restaurant district" with grocery stores, shops and a wonderful variety of eating spots. Glenn's personal favorite had to be the outdoor terrace at The Fish Pot, where delicious fresh seafood ruled. One of the finest intimate restaurants on the island is The Mews, rivaled by Olives, a popular Holetown bistro featuring Mediterranean and Caribbean cuisine. A great spot for children is Cocomos, and for elegant beachside dining we were impressed by Daphnes down the road on Paynes Beach.
In our travels around the island we discovered that Barbados can be enjoyed at many levels. Food and accommodations happened to top our list on this trip, but the wealth of available activities and lifestyle options runs deep. Barbados has been called a sportsman's paradise and for good reason. Golf courses flourish—there are any number of championship venues here, the most notable of which include the Country Club at Sandy Lane featuring two 18-hole courses, and the Royal Westmoreland Golf Club featuring a world-class Robert Trent Jones18-hole course. Deep-sea fishing and sailing are at your beck and call aboard half- and full-day charters that stage out of the Careenage in Bridgetown. Scuba diving and snorkeling are epidemic. Surfing happens on the boisterous east coast, particularly at Bathsheba Soup Bowl, and windsurfing is popular along the southern coast in Christ Church. There is tennis—even squash—along with horseback riding, hiking, helicopter touring, swimming with turtles...you name it. For the spectator in you there is organized rugby, soccer, polo and, of course, cricket.
But we were there to see villas, and we must have visited close to 50 of them. What struck me is how seamlessly they blend into their lush, leafy Bajan surroundings, how attractively decorated they are, how elevated their level of comfort and refinement is. I have waxed on about Sandalo already. Here are a couple of others I that found particularly noteworthy:
We moved from Sandalo midway through our stay (with tears in our eyes!) to Buttsbury Court (Villa RL BTC), a lovely four-bedroom villa located adjacent to the polo field at Holders, St. James. It features a tennis court and pool with a wonderful one-bedroom guest cottage that can be rented separately when the main house is empty. Between Holetown and Speightstown right smack on the beach in Reeds Bay is Villa Moon Reach (AA RCH), a graceful residence with five marvelous bedroom suites—all of them intensely private—and a rambling kidney-shaped pool in a luxuriant tropical setting. Villa Olivewood is a newer house located on a hillside in the Sandy Lane Estate area with four bedrooms and landscaped grounds overlooking Sandy Lane's golf courses and the Caribbean beyond. In St. Lucy on a ten-acre site above the beach is the five-bedroom villa Fustic House (BS FUS), featuring old-world charm tastefully wrought by designer Oliver Messel, plus a phalanx of extensive gardens and a pool literally blasted out of stone; it has to be one of the more established and more impressive villas on Barbados by anyone's standards.
So goes a mere glimpse of the villa possibilities under Wimco's wing on this island. It is key to remember that beyond the properties are the special charms of the place itself. We dined out on fresh flying fish, snapper, grouper and dorado, on homemade calalou soup, cold celery soup and christophene. At Sandalo we could walk down the beach to a fish market, buy fresh catch and bring it home to be cooked by chef Rodney. We were entertained by the ever-present tree monkeys that come out of the woods in St. James parish to cavort along the golf courses. We went to sleep each night lulled by a symphony of frogs, and awoke in the mornings to the singing of tropical birds. Paradise.
And of significance to many, it's easy to get to—a jet ride from the States. The travel logistics are far simpler than those associated with the majority of Caribbean islands. Once there, the people are friendly, the visuals intense, and the accommodations top. My first visit to Barbados was fantastic and certainly will not be my last.
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