Ratcheting up its already sky high star power, Barbados is honoring her own with a three-year partnership with superstar Rihanna. One of the best-selling artists of all time, the sultry singer signed the deal with the Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA) to promote Barbados as a tourist destination. “Barbados is a place like no other and one of the reasons for this is the spirit and national pride of our people,” she said, “I want each and every visitor to this beautiful island to experience what makes this destination different from all others and that is the spirit and warmth of my fellow Barbadians.
The most eastern island in the Caribbean, Barbados is affectionately known as “England in the Tropics” courtesy of its blend of British and African influences and ongoing love affair with afternoon tea and cricket matches Swanky resorts, Zagat-rated eateries, hip nightlife and plenty of flights from the US have earned the island enormous loyalty from discerning travelers and savvy love birds.
Courtyard by Marriott is the chains first property to open on the island. In Bridgetown, the modern hotel has 118 rooms with complimentary internet access, on-site restaurant, pool and gym. Marriott’s other Courtyard properties in the Caribbean are in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; Port of Spain, Trinidad; and San Juan, Puerto Rico. www.marriott.com.
The 76-room Mango Bay is flip-flop friendly with a pool, beach barbecues and a spirited bar where the ‘Burning Flame’ cocktail is a time-honored tradition. Close to the shops and bars in Holetown, the all-inclusive resort is tops with the romance crowd with glass-enclosed penthouse suites that boast spectacular views of the sea. www.mangobaybarbados.com. Owned by the Mango Hotel Group, the new Waterside Restaurant in St. Lawrence Gap celebrates the wizardry of chef Michael Hinds. “With main dishes like fire roasted tiger prawns with papaya relish, our customers are sure to have a dining experience that will leave them satisfied,” said Peter Odle, chairman, Mango Hotel Group. The gourmet eatery welcomes wedding receptions and rehearsal dinners. www.watersiderest.com
Cradling both the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, coastlines range from gentle to rugged with idyllic backdrops for fairytale weddings. Beaches for swimming on the western side or Platinum coast include Mullins Beach, Church Point and Paynes Bay while windblown Bathsheba on the east side is popular with surfers and newlyweds who cherish seclusion. Carlisle Bay, Accra Beach and Casuarina Beach on the south coast are the go-to spots for body surfing, Dover Beach is better suited for snorkeling and Crane Beach is picture-perfect with pink sand and limestone cliffs.
The last remaining sugar windmill in Barbados, Morgan Lewis impresses as an engineering wonder with four giant arms and gears that rotate to face the direction of the wind. Visitors can climb nearly to the top for commanding views of the eastern hills.
Now amongst the ranks of the Pyramids, Statue of Liberty and the Great Wall of China, Bridgetown and its Garrison are the newest sites to make UNESCO’s World Heritage list. An example of British colonial architecture, the Garrison includes a museum built in 1817 as a military prison. A National Trust building, Bridgetown’s Nidhe Israel synagogue was built in 1654 and restored by the islands Jewish community. Open year round, Jewish weddings are encouraged and can be arranged in advance with the Synagogue staff. www.nationaltrustbarbados.com
Here’s the Catch
A stay in Barbados would not be complete without dinner at Oistins Fish Market. Busiest on the weekend, traditional fare from flying fish and souse to Jug-Jug, made from green peas and guinea corn are dished up as old timers sway to the sounds of calypso. Arrive early for a meander through the craft booths that line the perimeter.
The first port in Barbados, Speightstown is an authentic slice of island life with plenty of shops, restaurants, Arlington Museum and the Gallery of Caribbean Art that spotlights local and regional artists. Sitting pretty in the heart of town, Cassareep Cafe serves platters of fiery curries on the beachfront deck. On a lagoon with a staircase that leads into the sea, nibbles and libations are served at the Port St. Charles Yacht Club where honeymooners covet the deck lounges and stellar service.
Make a Date
October 31- November 10: Barbados Darts Festival is open to players and fans alike.
November 18-21: Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival is an epicurean bonanza with celebrity chefs and tastings galore. www.foodwinerum.com.
A Click Away
Red, White & Barbados
Barbados was the only place outside of the US that was visited by George Washington. The plantation house that he rented is now a museum.
- During a visit in 1913, Teddy Roosevelt thanked Barbadians for their contribution in building the Panama Canal.
- Bill Clinton stayed at Bush Hill and Ronald Reagan slept in a villa owned by the actress Claudette Colbert.
- The current US Attorney General, Eric Holder was raised in New York and his extended family lives in Barbados.