A February 2003 trip
to Barbados by parramore
Quote: Surviving a New York winter means finding sunny escapes whenever possible. A trip to the south coast of beautiful Barbados fit the bill.
Sidewalks in Barbados are few and far between, so people often walk along the side of the street, often slipping out of the way at the very last second while you slam on the brakes.
The downside is typically cheesy tropical-themed decor, although I've seen a lot worse, and something far harder to understand: namely, the ability for the staff to screw up and their genuine but ultimately frustrated efforts to correct problems.
The hotel messed up my reservations, erroneously putting me down as a no-show and giving my room away on a weekend when the hotel was completely full. They seemed truly sorry about this rather large issue, promising me a "courtesy room" at a lower rate, without many of the amenities our reserved room featured, such as view and kitchenette. They even offered complimentary drinks while we waited. That seemed okay, but the complimentary drinks turned out to be a hassle to get, and the room took over two hours to prepare, as they had to have it cleaned and get a key cut. On top of that, the room was small and noisy and didn't have hot water for the first day. Again, when informed about these problems, the staff seemed contrite, and let us check out as late as we wanted on the day we were leaving, which was very helpful to us. So, at the end of the day we weren't the angry guests we could have been, but we weren't exactly jazzed by our experience either. You take your chances at this place!
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on February 17, 2003
Hotel | "Divi Southwinds Beach & Racquet Club"
Divi Southwinds is a large resort complex, offering two sizable swimming pools (one was closed for renovations in March, '03), a kiddie pool, tennis courts, two restaurants (love the beachside cafe) and a lovely strip of beach. Depending on where your unit is located, you may be across the street from the beach, but some units are beachfront. The surf on this part of the island is wonderful--not too rough, like the east coast, and not so boringly placid like the west coast. Nicely vigorous waves even offer limited opportunities for surfing--and there's a surf rental facility next door to Divi. Note: be prepared for the rental guides to try prying extra money out of your wallet when you return your board. You may want to offer a small tip, but beyond that, be firm. Sailing expeditions are also an option.
On the negative side of the column, I found that the staff can be exasperatingly clueless, and ubiquitous sales representatives can be pushy--even calling your room in the early morning for a pitch. The prefabricated concrete buildings have a slightly shabby appearance, and the decor is a bit timeworn and unimaginative. Our room was serviceable, but not exceptionally comfortable: the pillows on the bed had gone to seed a long time before our arrival and the furnishings were on the spartan side.
Depending on what you came looking for, you may enjoy the organized activities offered at Divi--such as the 'Meet the Management' poolside cocktail party on Monday night, or you may find such events annoying. Certainly the older folks staying at Divi seemed to noticeably appreciate this kind of socializing. On the other hand, hearing the loud strains of "Feeling HOTHOTHOT" coming from the pool might make you less than excited.
All in all, Divi offers a solid, though not spectacular, timeshare experience.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 27, 2003
Divi Southwinds Beach Resort
St Lawrence Main Road
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 17, 2003
St. Lawrence Gap
Christ Church, Barbados
At and around Sandy Point on the south coast you'll find decent and sometimes good surfing opportunities. I went out and learned a bit (never having surfed before) and didn't find the experience too intimidating. We were at a particularly friendly spot for my intitiation--the waves were clean and the only hazard was the lack of sandy beach to land on--very hostlile looking rocks waited at the shoreline, making timing rather important.
Renting a surfboard cost about US$10 per hour, but you'll need to put down a $50 deposit if you plan travelling with the board. I understand you can take a board on the bus, but we rented a car for our surfing safari so didn't have to try this. As crowded as buses get, coupled with the fact that sometimes there are only minivan buses available, I would think this route could be a hassle.
I liked the fact that at this venue locals and tourists mixed without tension. I was told that the crowd can get a little "gangsta" after midnight, but we didn't stay long enough to find out. Barbados does have its drug element, though not as pronounced as Trinidad or Jamaica. There are gangs, and the atmosphere, I'm told, can feel a little threatening to an outsider late at night in some of the clubs and party spots. Personally, I never saw anything to give me pause, but I thought I'd pass on the advisory.
Oistens Fish Fry
In a book on the island''s history displayed on the first floor, I learned that white indentured servants were a significant part of the early labor force -many of them Scottish and Irish. They were often treated worse than African slaves, for a very grim reason. Because they were promised land at the end of their tenure (seven years was a standard), greedy plantation owners would try to make sure they didn''t survive long enough for their reward by giving them the most punishing tasks.
Sunbury is a popular site for weddings, and has a restaurant and bar. The grounds are lovely and contain dramatic bearded fig trees and the first teak tree to be planted on the island. Guided tours are available, but we just did a self-guided tour that was fine, as plenty of placards on the walls explain the history of the house.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 22, 2003
Across from the market is an inviting seaside park, and just down the road is a fish market where you can watch experts filleting flying fish and other local catches.
Pelican Craft Center
Pelican Point Shopping Ctr
246 427 5350
The local brew is Banks beer, which to me tasted quite a bit like the more familiar Jamaican Red Stripe - a little on the sweet side. Rum, naturally, is also abundant.
Note: at the Causarina hotel, I made the mistake of ordering a hamburger for lunch as the kitchen was out of just about everything else. Big mistake - Bajans don't really eat hamburgers and their rendering leaves a lot to be desired. I truly think the meat was microwaved.
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