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The Best Options on BarbadosApril 1, 2008 By: Joe Pike Home-Based Travel Agent
What and where to book your clients on this Caribbean island
Getting There: Delta Air Lines (www.delta.com) is launching nonstop service to Barbados from Atlanta on April 10. Air Jamaica (www.airjamaica.com) offers three weekly flights departing New York's John F. Kennedy (JFK) International. American Airlines (www.aa.com) offers the most flights to Barbados, including service from New York and Miami.
Getting Around: For clients looking to tour the island, we recommend hooking them up with the Barbados Tourism Authority's personal driver, Winston Holder. He also operates his own tour-operator business called Winhold Tours, Inc. Call Holder at 246-433-9858 or e-mail [email protected].
Tour Operators: Delta Vacations (www.delta.com) and Future Vacations (www.futurevacations.com) are offering a "Best of Barbados" package. Agents should contact Delta Vacations' General Manager Doug Knapp at [email protected] or Future Vacations' General Manager Patti Paton at [email protected]. Both offer commissions of up to 15 percent on all Barbados bookings. The package includes $200 air credit per person ($300 per person for travel in September), the first night free (two nights free for travel in September), a free breakfast daily and a $25 voucher for dinner for two at Oistins Fish Fry, among other offerings. Island Destinations (www.islanddestinations.com) has a "Romance in Paradise" package at the Sandy Lane resort that includes a $100 resort credit; a Luxury Ocean Room, Dolphin Suite, Luxury Orchid Suite, Luxury Dolphin Suite or Penthouse categories; a bottle of champagne on arrival; one candlelight dinner for two; one catamaran cruise for two; and one spa voucher of $100 per person or one round of golf in the Country Club per person with a cart. It's valid on new bookings for travel from April 19 to October 31. Five nights in a Luxury Ocean Room start at $5,600 per couple. (Guests pay for four nights and get the fifth free.) Seven nights in a Luxury Ocean Room start at $8,400 per couple. (Again, one night free is included in the cost.) Agents can contact Island Destinations' Caribbean specialist Claire Arrindell at 914-833-3300, ext. 108 or [email protected].
Where to Stay: During our stay at Almond Beach Village (www.almondresorts.com/Resorts/AlmondVillage), we were able to see only room #7426, a Superior Deluxe Beachfront unit that offered a spacious balcony with great views of both the ocean and the pool. There are a total of 400 units in 10 room categories. Almond Beach Village is a great fit for families.
Almond took over the property in 1994. The last major refurbishments were done about two years ago, when a fifth floor was added. But expect that to change. We were told that plans are in place to add about four treatment rooms to the resort's spa. Almond Beach Village offers a 10 percent commission. Agents should call Julie Boyce, reservations manager, at 246-422-4900, ext. 5813.
Almond Resorts plans to launch its new 289-room Almond Casuarina Beach Resort (www.almondresorts.com/Resorts/AlmondCasuarina) in the spring. Situated on Dover Beach on the south coast of the island, the resort is undergoing a $30 million expansion and a complete refurbishing of the existing property. The family-oriented, all-inclusive resort will offer dining at three gourmet restaurants, four bars serving premium brand drinks, three swimming pools, a fitness center, tennis courts, golf, a range of free water sports, and a fully equipped Kids' Club.
Six categories of rooms will be offered, ranging from standard units to two-bedroom suites. Guests staying at Almond Casuarina Beach are also invited to experience the other two Almond Resorts in Barbados. (Complimentary shuttle service between the properties is available.) To book this resort, agents can call Scott Bulger, reservations manager, at 800-4ALMOND or book online at www.almondresorts.com.
What makes Sandy Lane (www.sandylane.com) unique is its golf courses—specifically, the world-renowned Green Monkey. The resort offers the Old Nine, an executive nine-hole golf course, and the professional Country Club Golf Course, which hosted the PGA tournament in 2006. The Green Monkey, however, with its waterfalls and cliffs, is by far the most aesthetically rewarding course in all of the Caribbean. Take note: It's expensive. One round of golf here costs between $300 and $400 for guests. In an effort to dissuade non-guests from playing on the course, the resort charged a whopping $4,000 fee for one round for four people, or $1,000 per person. We were told that this strategy has failed and that, in fact, businessmen often jet into Barbados for one day, play a round at the Green Monkey and then fly home. It's part of the growing island golf-hopping trend in the Caribbean.
If you have clients playing here, recommend Quintyne "Q" Griffith to be their caddy. As Green Monkey's starter/marshall, he's been employed by Sandy Lane for the last five years and knows the course inside and out.
We saw room #401, a two-bedroom Dolphin Suite. Each of the four available suites comes with a small bedroom and master bedroom, equipped with 42-inch plasma TVs. We were most impressed by the balcony, which offers stunning ocean views and a small sofa for an outdoor nap. Sandy Lane gives a 10 percent commission. Agents should contact Michelle Babb, reservations manager, at [email protected] or 246-444-2001.
Note: As it does every year, Sandy Lane will be conducting some minor upgrades to the property. We were told that this year's improvements, which will include minor construction, might disturb guests because of the noise. Therefore, the property will close from August 31 to October 2.
Visit www.visitbarbados.org for a complete listing.
What to Do: Book your client on these must-see excursions in Barbados.
Swimming with the turtles: Book with Cool Runnings Catamaran Sailing Cruises (www.coolrunningsbarbados.com; 246-436-0911) and Rubaiyat Catamaran Cruises (www.rubaiyatcatamarancruises.com; 246-436-6921).
Harrison's Cave (www.harrisonscave.com) is a crystallized, limestone cavern surrounded by clear water and flowing streams. George Washington House (http://www.georgewashingtonbarbados.org/), also known as the Bush Hill House, is the site of George Washington's stay on the island. We recommend tour guide David Jones. Call 246-228-5461.
St. Nicholas Abbey (www.stnicholasabbey.com) is Barbados' second-oldest sugar plantation. We recommend tour guide Heather Stoute. Call 246-422-8725.
Where to Eat: Home-Based Travel Agent dined at Champers Restaurant (www.champersbarbados.com) and recommends it to clients looking for a romantic dinner with stunning views of the Accra Beach. The dimly lit establishment mostly offers seafood. We had the coconut shrimp and the peanut-crusted barracuda. For seafood fans, it doesn't get much better than this. Be sure to recommend clients wash their meal down with a glass of Pinot Grigio. The food is expensive (the barracuda was about $35), but well worth it, and reservations are required. Champers, like most upscale restaurants on the island, has a dress code of Caribbean casual attire, which is khakis and a buttoned-down, collared shirt. Call 246-434-3463. —JP