I’ve been wanting to visit Barbados for years and when the opportunity came up a couple of months ago, I didn’t have time to research hotels and resorts. We lucked out thanks to a few contacts I made through my years at IMM and the New York Times Travel Show who knew the lay of the land, so to speak, and recommended a few great options. We stayed at one of the Ocean Hotels properties and dined at others. We also spent time on several of the properties’ beaches and in their pools. Let’s take a look.
02 Beach Club & Spa
Ocean Hotels in Barbados have three properties located on the South Coast. Although they are a short drive from each other, they couldn’t be more different. We loved our experience at 02 Beach Club & Spa, which offers an all-inclusive experience where you stay in traditional rooms or one or two-bedroom suites. Below is one of the main pools that winds around some of the rooms as well as a swim-up bar, which was quite fun. At the end of the pool, you have sweeping views of the beach and ocean beyond.
On a higher level, there’s a smaller pool that is quite exclusive and for adults only. There’s a bar on this level and a happy hour period which is always a fun experience.
Below is a view of the beach in front of the property – we both walked and swam here and did I mention that we also sipped on Pina Coladas in the afternoon as well?
The property has 1,000 feet of a powder-white beach, 130 Luxury Rooms and Suites including swim-up rooms, three pools, two of which are adult only, six dining options (both indoor and outdoor), and seven bars (two swim-ups, one on the roof deck (above) and one late-night one). There’s also a full-service spa which we tried, whirlpool tubs, and an 8th-floor roof deck terrace (also above), a teen lounge, and a 24-hour gym.
Below, kids take part in an arts and crafts class outside facing the beach.
In their Luxury Collection, there are modern, spacious Junior Suites for adults only, with stunning ocean views, king bed or double queen configurations, designer touches and sweet amenities. These are located by the adult-only river pool and swim-up bar. In their Concierge Collection, there are one and two-bedroom suites with ocean-front views, and add-ons such as spa treatments, personalized grocery service and exclusive Masterclasses for those interested in learning. Below is one of their more elaborate offerings.
Below is another room style on the property . . . a little smaller but still lovely and a great option for a couple.
Downstairs in the casual sitting area between restaurants.
Drinks are part of the package, access to dining at any of their restaurants and non-motorized watersports. They also have a complimentary shuttle at their Sea Breeze Beach House property and golf. We sampled food and drinks at two of their restaurants. The choices include Elements, which offers a great mimosa breakfast, as well as themed menus from around the globe for lunch and dinner; Oro, which is their fine-dining experience with a vintage modern style and exquisite views from the 9th floor, Bluefin (where we had lunch), which offers a casual open-air beachside grill and pizza oven, and Brisa, which has a cozy, nautically themed rooftop tapas lounge with small bites and great cocktails, fine rums and liqueurs, all with an amazing 270 degree view.
Lastly, Oasis in the poolside lounge has specialty coffees, spiked mochas (YUM) and sweets. They also offer a unique personalized experience at their Chef’s Table with rum or wine paring for couples or groups of up to 12 for an incredible gastronomic event.
The Crane Resort
As the oldest continuously operating hotel in the Caribbean, The Crane Resort is all about luxury. Their amenities range from cascading cliff-top pools and award-winning restaurants to a kid’s club and Crane Beach, which we were told is slated to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
This is the notorious beach we noted above and I have to admit, it was spectacular. We didn’t want to leave.
They boast five pools, one of which is known as the Cliff Pool Complex, a 1.5-acre cascading pool area that includes a children’s wading pool, a waterfall pool, and an alfresco Jacuzzi spa pool. Other options are more hidden if you like, with more privacy.
They have private pools as well, corner tower plunge pools; ground-floor pools of up to 28 feet, many with an infinity edge and breathtaking ocean views; or 12-foot pools in penthouse suites with rooftop garden decks. Wow, right?
There’s also the adult-only Historic Pool. This one is all about tranquility and relaxation and it is framed by a row of classic Doric columns, and built right on the cliff’s edge.
Another pool on the grounds below.
Here is a larger more family-friendly pool.
And how about this one? Breathtaking, right?
We were moving around too much so we didn’t have a chance to dine at this exquisite resort but they have both inside and outside seating options. Romantic, decadent, elegant and chic are all words to describe their restaurants. There are eight options in total including fine dining, cafes and bars.
They have rooms and suites. The style is much more traditional, as you’d expect from its historical past. For example, this 1,000-square-foot one-bedroom deluxe suite features a spacious balcony overlooking lush tropical gardens, an artisan-crafted mahogany king bed, oversized plush sofas, a fully-equipped granite kitchen, and a private marble bathroom with double vanity.
Because there’s so much history here, it’s dramatic just to walk the grounds. Truthfully, there’s so much to take in (or should I say, breathe in?)
Two thumbs up. For more information, including how to book, be sure to visit their website.
Sea Breeze Beach House
Also part of the Ocean Hotels is the Sea Breeze Beach House on the South Coast. The hotel is situated on a beautiful beach and has a lovely pool, sundecks, and jacuzzis. We didn’t stay at the property, but we did spend time here, including a long, leisurely dinner at their finest outdoor dining restaurant followed by dancing to live music, cocktails and coffee.
The main beach is spectacular. We walked along this white sand gem and then had cocktails in the afternoon before dinner.
Offering over 1,000 feet of white, sandy beach which is great for swimming, it’s situated on the south coast. You can choose from two beaches depending on your mood – one is great for watersports and adjoins the family pool and the other one is a bit more secluded when you’d like to get some rest or read a book.
Like its sister property 02B Beach Club & Spa, Breeze Beach House is an all-inclusive resort, but more boutique in style. You can lounge about at one of three pools on the property, including an adults-only pool and whirlpool tubs. Yes, please. There’s an all-inclusive poolside drink service as well with absolutely fabulous cocktail options.
Here, there are 122 rooms in two categories: 78 Classic Collection rooms and 44 luxury suites, all decorated in a contemporary Caribbean style. They have hardwood floors with a style that brings in the ocean vibe and the surrounding gardens. There are four bars, six dining experiences, four of which offer ocean views, weekly rum tastings, and nightly entertainment with dancing under the stars, the latter of which we experienced one night until quite late.
Their Classic Collection rooms are situated in three locations across the property and they come in four different room categories. All Classic Collection rooms have air conditioning, ceiling fans, covered private balconies, flatscreen TVs, large bathrooms featuring a relaxing rainfall shower, premium linens, safes, iPod docking stations, and mini-fridges. Their Luxury Collection, also referred to as the Mahogany Suites, includes very spacious options with great ocean views.
The rooms offer upgraded furnishings and amenities, luxury bathrooms, and complimentary privilege inclusions such as a pre-stocked mini bar, nightly turndown service on request, complimentary beach bag, upgraded in-room coffee service, and a personalized concierge service.
Their 1,200-square-foot two-bedroom suite is made up of 2-interconnecting Oceanfront Junior Suites. They each have an en-suite bathroom and are great for families wishing to stay together. There are two spacious furnished balconies as well . . . great for sipping your morning coffee over a spectacular view of the ocean below.
There’s also a vibrant kids and teen program, watersports, fitness room, beach activities program, separate meeting room, a personalized concierge service for specialized groups, weddings and events.
The property is considered an ideal location since it is near a host of South Coast attractions including St. Lawrence Gap (great for nightlife), Oistins Fish Fry (meant to be amazing although we didn’t have a chance to try it), Barbados Golf Club, the Concorde experience and more. For more information, including how to book, visit their website.
South Beach Hotel
We stayed at a boutique property called South Beach Hotel, which is an all-suite hotel nestled along Barbados‘ South Coast. BTW, it is also part of the Ocean Hotels group. We love how convenient the location was — only a stone’s throw from Rockley Beach, which is noted to be one of the nicest beaches on the island. There are three different categories: Junior Suites and one or two-bedroom Suite options. This 4-star, 49-room property is oozing with a “retro chic” décor and ambiance. That said, it is undergoing a renovation so later this year, you’ll be seeing new style changes to the property, inside and out.
Breakfast is included with your stay and there’s also a full suite of concierge services to help you during your stay. There’s a pool in front of the hotel facing the street but it has lots of cushioned loungers, poolside food and drink service.
Let’s take a look at the style of some of the rooms.
Outside by the pool area. Our room wasn’t ready when we first arrived, so we spent time around the pool swimming and drinking Pina Coladas.
The on-site restaurant includes a continental breakfast buffet everyday, with fresh fruit, yogurt, hot or cold cereals, sweet and savory pastries, and an assortment of bread, cheese, jams, jellies, coffee, tea and juices.
The below shots give you an idea of the front of the hotel.
There’s also complimentary WiFi, a fitness room, and onsite spa services. All rooms have kitchen facilities as well as covered balconies overlooking the pool deck and restaurant lounge, many of which have ocean views as well. Nearby is the South Coast boardwalk where there’s a variety of bars and restaurants to pick from on any given day or night. And as noted above, Rockley Beach is across the street, where you can go for long walks and swim, which we did three times during our stay.
For more information, including how to book, visit their website.
ECO Lifestyle & Lodge
Lastly, for something a little different, there’s a great option for those who are into sustainability and eco-friendly properties. Meet the ECO Lifestyle & Lodge, which unfortunately we didn’t have a chance to visit during our stay. We’d love to review it on a future trip. Located in Tent Bay, Bathsheba, this place is tucked away and very much off the beaten path.
Overlooking the dramatic seascape of the East Coast, ECO Lifestyle & Lodge, which was once called Sea-U Guest House, was founded by two New Yorkers. It’s more rustic on the exterior although their rooms and suites are tastefully and elegantly done.
For more information including how to book an option with them, visit their site.
Renee Blodgett is the founder of We Blog the World. The site combines the magic of an online culture and travel magazine with a global blog network and has contributors from every continent in the world. Having lived in 10 countries and explored nearly 80, she is an avid traveler, and a lover, observer and participant in cultural diversity.
She is also the CEO and founder of Magic Sauce Media, a new media services consultancy focused on viral marketing, social media, branding, events and PR. For over 20 years, she has helped companies from 12 countries get traction in the market. Known for her global and organic approach to product and corporate launches, Renee practices what she pitches and as an active user of social media, she helps clients navigate digital waters from around the world. Renee has been blogging for over 16 years and regularly writes on her personal blog Down the Avenue, Huffington Post, BlogHer, We Blog the World and other sites. She was ranked #12 Social Media Influencer by Forbes Magazine and is listed as a new media influencer and game changer on various sites and books on the new media revolution. In 2013, she was listed as the 6th most influential woman in social media by Forbes Magazine on a Top 20 List.
Her passion for art, storytelling and photography led to the launch of Magic Sauce Photography, which is a visual extension of her writing, the result of which has led to producing six photo books: Galapagos Islands, London, South Africa, Rome, Urbanization and Ecuador.
Renee is also the co-founder of Traveling Geeks, an initiative that brings entrepreneurs, thought leaders, bloggers, creators, curators and influencers to other countries to share and learn from peers, governments, corporations, and the general public in order to educate, share, evaluate, and promote innovative technologies.