Barbados Blogathon Begins!
By Matt Preston
Great destinations often require great journeys and Barbados is definitely on that list. The exciting Barbados Blogathon project has finally begun and it started with an alarm clock at 4:45am. Our Virgin Atlantic flight from Tropical Sky may be some 5 or so hours away but getting up, driving to Gatwick Airport and boarding our plane all takes some time.
Driving through the thick fog at 5:30am on a deserted and dark motorway in England is a world away from sipping rum cocktails on a coral beach in the Caribbean. But the winter drive was easy enough. The sun never rose until long after we were sipping coffee at the airport, staring out the window at barely visible planes through the relentless fog.
Being delayed by an hour for technical reasons gave us more time to shop at Gatwick’s south terminal. We realised our recent busy schedule of our epic 6000 mile Great British Road Trip and the family duties of Christmas had ill prepared us for a tropical holiday. Sunglasses, flip-flops and sun cream were all desperately needed and thankfully easy to obtain.
Boarding always takes longer than you think and it was 11:25am before we taxied to the runway and took off, immediately puncturing the low foggy cloud before popping out in to the beautiful blue skies and sunshine we always knew we’re up there somewhere.
Our flight was smooth and sunny all the way. Lots of on-demand movies and so much food you’re likely to miss a treat if you take a nap for 30 minutes. Thankfully if you grovel nicely to a flight attendant they’ll gladly give you an ice cream! The friendly Bajan pilot had a that warm and welcoming Barbados accent that made us feel like we were there already. The only strange part of our flight occurred when charging our iPhones on the in-seat USB port and being told by a flight attendant “You can’t charge your iPhone there, it can get too hot and may cause a fire“. If you really can set fire to a plane by plugging in an iPhone I’d say this may be a slight design flaw but I’m pretty sure she’s wrong on that one.
Arriving in Barbados
Flying for 8 and a half hours, all in daylight is a great way to arrive on a small Caribbean island. From the right side of the plane you get mostly views across the expanse of Atlantic Ocean. On the left you’ll get views of a number of other small islands on the approach to Barbados. Either side is good enough when you’re coming in to land. Sweeping over the green fields and pretty houses before touching down at the Grantly Adams international airport in the capital, Bridgetown.
I never get bored of being greeted at an airport with someone holding a sign with my name on it. Our private car was waiting right outside the airport and we were soon on our way to The Club Barbados resort and spa. Our home for the next 7 days and what a home it is. We were met at reception by the friendly hotel manager, Gerry, who showed us around the resort and to our gorgeous ocean front room. With a lounge, bedroom and bathroom, we have lots of space to unpack and feel at home. Something that really makes a difference to any accommodation. Our balcony on the 2nd floor has breathtaking views of the sea, small waves lapping at the shore, birds landing on our balcony, palm trees gently swaying in the breeze. All the ingredients that make you melt a little and your troubles seem to evaporate.
Our Barbados Butler
The next morning, after an early start thanks to jet-lag, we had breakfast down in the Sunset Restaurant, quite a buffet, I’m not going to lose any weight this week that’s for sure. Then a quick meeting with our Butler for the week. Yes we really do have our very own Barbados Blogathon Butler! Kevin is a wonderfully friendly character who made us feel very welcome and told us all about our itinerary for the coming days. He’s our fixer while we’re here and there’s nothing he can’t do, in fact he claims the sun is shining thanks to him. I wouldn’t be surprised either, with just one caveat that the rain is not his fault, he only controls the sun. We’ll be making good use of his knowledge of the island in the coming days and I’m eager to find out more about his Olympic athlete son too!
Our first day has been spent at the resort, exploring whats on offer and generally soaking up the Bajan atmosphere. It’s definitely more relaxed than London! It’s also our first all-inclusive experience which I have to say is growing on me. Not having to worry about carrying cash around, or how much your bill might be at the end of your holiday, does help maintain that relaxed Barbados vibe.
Not only is our room right on the beach, there’s also some great coral just metres away too. In fact much of the island’s base is formed from a bed of 300 feet deep coral formed over the past million years. There’s a great variety of fish here and we picked up some snorkel gear from the water sports department to check them out. The beach right in front of the sun beds and our room had some of the best coral and fish varieties but there is also some more challenging snorkelling just a few minutes walk away. There are 3 modestly sized pools at the resort but the ocean is much more interesting! The waves are small although occasionally surprising, the water is a beautiful blue and very clear with no jelly fish or other nasty surprises.
In the late afternoon we were booked in for a “couples massage”. We’re very keen to see what The Club Barbados and the island can offer couples seeking a little romance. The Spa at the resort did a great job of kicking things off. While the music may be the same in every spa in the world, the dim lighting, relaxing aromas and chilled out staff are always a welcome experience. We first had an Aroma Salt Scrub which, judging by the amount of scrubbing, must have done us some good. After a quick shower we had probably one of the best massages we’ve ever had. They were experts at finding all those niggling knots caused by long haul flights and even massaged my stomach which is a new experience (and probably did my intestines some good!). By the end we were both jelly-esque boneless humans who found it tough to leave the zen like state we were in and return to the real world, or at least the resort.
A fairly standard yet tasty enough buffet dinner in the evening concluded a very enjoyable start to our Barbados Blogathon experience. A day of pampering, exploration, good food and good Barbados hospitality. We’ve got lots of exciting activities planned for the next few days so keep your eyes on our websites and social media channels. You can follow us on twitter at @travelwithamate and @placestogoblog as well as our hashtag #bdosblogathon